Fear not, I am with you

Let us not forget to be connected to God in prayer, especially remembering all who are affected by this pandemic. May God bless and grant peace and safety to all.

Oct 02, 2021

By Sr Elizabeth John Jothee, FSP

Nightmare broke loose as the most disastrous event in recent times, the dreaded pandemic, occurred. It seemed like darkness was everywhere! Fear and sadness clouded this dark scene as tragic news flowed unendingly in through WhatsApp and various international and local TV channels.

The distinct and frightening sound of sirens from ambulances took over from noisy daily activities as vehicles used to jam the roads previously. As our Convent is situated close to two busy hospitals, Hospital University and the Assunta Hospital, one could not avoid hearing the frequent sound of these sirens. My heart was troubled when I looked out into a street empty of people and cars; I could only pray for God’s mercy and healing on the ailing patients in the ambulances. Our bookshop was without visitors or customers! The faithful were denied physical attendance at Holy Mass in church, and we could not carry out our work of evangelisation through frequent book missions.

Only one thing is certain when fear and anguish torture us in our weakness. Engaging in fervent prayer is the ultimate answer, and I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Gazing at the tabernacle in our Chapel, my attention was drawn to the words written on the wall, “Fear not, I am with you, from here I want to enlighten, have a contrite heart” These were the words of assurance from Jesus to our Founder, James Alberione, when he was sick and praying. How consoling it was for me to reaffirm that Jesus is with us; be not afraid as He will guide and guard all of us. It was a time of reflection and of repentance — a sense of sorrow for our negligence to Mother Earth and how we could empathise with but not yet be out there with the suffering and destitute. For all this we humbly seek forgiveness from Jesus, our Lord and Master.

Jesus, present in the tabernacle, is the model of all perfection; He is the One who made everything (UT Perfectus II, Blessed Alberione) and will do everything for us. Visiting the Eucharist and spending time in reflection strengthens our beautiful relationship with Christ Jesus. Hence, continuous adoration of the Eucharist was organised in conjunction with the DSP communities of each country. For the regional community adoration, we were allocated time from 8.00pm to 10.00pm each night.

In unity with Pope Francis, the bishops and priests, we, the people of God, also offered our prayers. How awesome it was to turn to Jesus in the Eucharist, whose real presence provided us with confidence and trust during these worrying moments. Kneeling in front of the Tabernacle in prayer, we are in solidarity with the doctors, nurses and frontliners who have selflessly given their time to attend to people who were infected with the virus.

Our prayerful support also extends to those warded in ICUs and for families mourning the loss of their loved ones. I must also add that praying the Rosary is our daily routine and, especially in this time of pandemic, we prayed to our beloved Blessed Mother, Queen of the Apostles to succour us in our distress, through her intercession to her beloved Son, Jesus Christ. May our Mother Mary hold us all close to her and to her Son Jesus.

It is worth noting that during these trying times, we were blessed, experiencing tremendous love from people who came by to offer generous support. In appreciation and with heartfelt gratitude, we in turn shared with the needy, both locals and migrants.

So, this moment of crisis does provide us with another positive outlook — one of love and much hope. People were united in prayer, and in unity they organised resources to help one another. Through social media platforms, we followed online Masses, joined Eucharistic adoration sessions and exchanged messages of hope and comfort. These so wonderfully kept us connected with people near and far.

Although our Media Centre was closed, it didn’t prevent customers from purchasing Bibles, religious books and rosaries through online facilities. What a joy it was to witness families coming together to pray and share the Word of God, ultimately giving strength and hope to the people.

We perceived a noticeable increase in spiritually related activities. We were joyfully able to make ourselves available to receiving phone calls from many who needed to talk and share their difficulties. We volunteered to help at the Listening Ears programme organised by the Penang Diocese. We were also involved in the Zoom Conversation hours arranged by Fr Alberto Irenus, SJ and his team in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

In December last year, our community engaged in a small fun project. As a means of connecting with people, we produced homemade ice-cream which was quickly snapped up and kept us happily busy throughout the month. Doubtless, all the Sisters in our community are truly grateful for the love and enthusiastic support given to us!

We know, that with complete trust in God, there will soon be light at the end of the tunnel when we shall see an end to this traumatic period of pandemic. When this happens, we look forward to churches re-opening so that the faithful, hungry for the Eucharist, can return with gladness to give praise and glorify God.

Our thoughts are also with people whose jobs and businesses have been affected by this dreadful pandemic, particularly the financially strained small traders. We pray that resumption of their business will be swiftly approaching.

Meanwhile let us not forget to be connected to God in prayer, especially remembering all who are affected by this pandemic. May God bless and grant peace and safety to all. 

--Sr Elizabeth is with the Daughters of St Paul congregation based in Petaling Jaya.

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