My dear Fathers, Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and Peace of the Holy Spirit!
Covid-19, the global pandemic seems to be unabated at this moment. Presently it is said to be more infectious and many, including children are getting sick with the contagion. Very many families are down with its debilitating symptoms. Sickness and the gloom that follows illness, has cast a dark shadow on the joy and wellbeing of our daily lives. Health and safety of individuals is the prime concern for all today.
In the midst of these challenges everyone has been down on knees seeking the Almighty God’s mercy. Ceaseless prayers are on our lips; petitions for the end of the pandemic are constantly whispered. “Please bring back the old times… bring us back to normalcy” we plead to a kind and powerful God. We seek divine intervention so that the pandemic would miraculously go away. True, the Lord is our stronghold, He is ever present in times of affliction (ps. 46). Yet, are we not called to stop, ponder and pray for the right favors from God during these unusual times? Are we not just asking God to change things, with out realising that we need to change our ways of being and doing?
Besides imploring for the virus to be ended on the face of the earth, perhaps we should also ask for the virtues of strength and fortitude to face new challenges and shoulder more accountability to face the sufferings this pandemic poses before us. To merely pray for the pandemic to end is not the only thing that is demanded of us. Rather, we need to do a bit more on our own for correcting our past errors so that this calamity may not persist. “An awareness of the gravity of today’s crisis must be translated into new habits”(LS209).
The pandemic consistently is pointing towards the humanity’s everyday life-style patterns. Apart from the practice of well accepted green habits of daily life and reduction on the frivolous consumerism, simple courtesies such as use of masks, safe distancing, adapting etiquettes of hygiene and cleanliness, avoiding hyper mobility and unnecessary travel, curbing social get-togethers and opting for preventive steps like vaccination etc are just some of the few life-style changes that are needed as part of the ‘new normal’ to curtail the contagion. “If we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters…(we must check) the impact of our every action on the world around us”(Pope Francis).
Our prayers should then be aimed at seeking God’s grace so that we could rise up, as persons of freedom and hope to act conscientiously and to face humbly the fresh demands and the burdens brought by the COVID pandemic. It is therefore time that we consider praying differently in this situation for the grace of higher attitudes. Let us pray for wisdom; let us pray for patience; let us pray for resilience; let us pray for empathy and compassion; let us pray for trusting in God’s ways and respect to the law of the land; and above all let us pray that we receive a benevolent spirit that will go beyond I-me-myself and think of cultivating a balanced lifestyle that will yield a capacity for a deeper understanding and promotion of Life as a whole.
“Human beings are capable of choosing again what is good” says Pope Francis. “No system can (should) completely suppress our openness to goodness…our God-given ability to respond to His Spirit at work deep in our hearts”(205). Certainly in praying differently, with humble disposition, we will find that our prayers can usher in a time of hope “for the awakening of a new reverence for life”(207) and in that strive for the end to the pandemic sooner than later.
Fraternal wishes for good health to all.
Yours in the Lord,
Bishop of Varanasi