The prayer to Mary, the coronavirus and, the crisis of politics

On April 25, the feast of St Mark the Evangelist, Pope Francis issued a letter to all the faithful inviting them to “rediscover the beauty of praying

May 03, 2020

By Bernardo Cervellera
On April 25, the feast of St Mark the Evangelist, Pope Francis issued a letter to all the faithful inviting them to “rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home during May”.

For the Catholic Church, the month of roses and the time after Easter are traditionally dedicated to the Mother of God. For this year, the pontiff has composed two prayers to Our Lady. In a letter addressed to the whole Church, he invites us to recite the prayer “at the end of the Rosary”. He adds, “I myself will recite it in May, spiritually united with you.”

Francis’ suggestion comes at the height of the pandemic crisis, and in the midst of many families discovering the joy of common prayer in the “domestic Church”.

With the mandatory quarantine, in many countries — from China to Malaysia, from Sri Lanka to Iraq, to Lebanon and also in Italy and many European countries — families were able to sanctify their holidays by viewing Masses via live streaming or reciting the rosary together as a family. Although this experience has strengthened the faith in many, the Pope himself — at the Mass on April 17 — warned against the risk of a “virtual [virtualized]” spirituality emerging from the sitting rooms of families.

This is also the reason why the Italian bishops have asked their government for greater freedom of worship, making it possible for churches to return to being a meeting place, while at the same time guaranteeing to fulfil the requirements of social distancing and sanitary disinfection.

One may wonder why the Pope then pushes families still to prayer “at home”? We could say it is more than the fear of “virtualizing” our lived spiritual experience. The Pontiff feels the need for an intense faith in the people as they perceive themselves to be more united.

Reciting the rosary at different latitudes is like rediscovering ourselves gathered under the great mantle of Mary, as the ancients depicted her as the one united and undivided humanity.

However, despite the heroism of many — doctors, nurses, priests, volunteers, etc, — there are differences and challenges from this epidemic scenario. There seems to be a lack of coherence, a sense of emptiness in politicians, ideological closures in many, the selfishness of individuals, groups and nations.

This emptiness was visible early on as not one state was ready to face such an unprecedented pandemic. Strangely, the politicians were far from being humble in collaborating with others to tackle the problems of the pandemic. The crisis has become  an arena for them to display their prowess at defeating their opponents. It is really awkward to witness such clumsy conflicts to gain some fame. Unfortunately, they seem to be of equal status when they contribute to the breakdown in human lives and economic disasters before the very eyes of their impotent rulers.

The ideological aspect has meant that the face of the coronavirus has become a kind of tournament between China and the United States, in which fans flock around their champion, forgiving him of everything. So “the right wing” forgives Donald Trump of all his blunders and superficialities in facing the epidemic; “The left wing” forgives China for its silence, dictatorship, injustice and violence.

Perhaps because of the quarantine, which forced them to remain closed in their houses they have tended to become more ideological, eager to reaffirm their preconceived ideas, without opening their minds to the broader horizon presented by all the elements of reality.

On the other hand, individuals and states have become more selfish. This is demonstrated by the state of neglect in a good number of nations. Many citizens have lost their jobs and their homes. Food has become scarce because of the enforced lockdown. Even scientists are competing against each other to see who is faster and smarter in producing the COVID-19 vaccine, and thus attracting more research funds. On the other hand, as is the case with China, the complete map of the virus is shared with other virologists or scientists.

Hence, Pope Francis, on April 13, has invited us to pray precisely for this: “That rulers, scientists and politicians study a way out of the post pandemic period, and focus on the right way to move forward, that is, always in favour of the people, always in favour of the people.”

Faced with the disintegration created by the pandemic, we understand why Francis asks us to pray to the Virgin Mary. There is a need to breathe into humanity an ideal greater than oneself which makes us more humble and helpful.--AsiaNews (Edited)

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