These words from the mouth of a young innocent girl asked by God to perform a monumental task echo throughout history. After first asking, how, “How is it to be done for me to become the mother of the Son of God” her commitment to the task has echoed throughout history for more than 2000 years. Today 25 March, is the commemoration of that day, the feast of the Annunciation. Pope Francis has asked that Christians everywhere at noon in their own part of the world pray in unison the OUR FATHER, the words that Mary’s son taught his disciples years later. These words too echo throughout the world. They are the prayer of all Christians irrespective of growing differences. Similar sentiments are expressed in the prayers of all other religions, all of whom are turning to their God “in these days of trial, while humanity trembles because of the pandemic’s menace” in the words of Pope Francis.
The voice of religious leaders needs to be heard today as much as that of world leaders who with their governments and mainly secular stakeholders make the decisions that could determine the outcome of the pandemic for millions of citizens. World leaders are addressing the health and economic issues. Others are focusing on the practical and psychological realities of life in total or partial isolation for weeks on end.
Religion and spirituality have an important role to play too. In 2016 Pope Francis issued his encyclical LAUDATO SI’ ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME. Over the last century other popes and leaders have warned about the consequences of our abuse of the environment. Francis writes, “the violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness, evident in the soil in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” LS 2.
Governments have ordered a reduction in numbers of people gathering, and more recently a lockdown and restriction of movement. Most church leaders, abiding by these regulations have suspended services to their great disappointment and that of their members at this most sacred season.
Governments and religions are preaching solidarity, standing together in unison. Solidarity is one of the principles of Catholic social teaching. Subsidiarity, another principle, recognises rights and empowers at lower levels, permit that action at family, community and parish levels of society should be recognised by higher levels too.
These principles and values should be inculcated into family life as an essential part of personal and communal formation. Family life after all is the first school where solidarity is practised, at times to the point of over-emphasis, but subsidiarity is a challenge and yet a valuable educational and psychological tool. With our children at home and families cooped up for at least the next 3 weeks, every tool, educational, psychological and spiritual can be helpful as we negotiate and weather this major storm.
As we pray with Mary, “thy will be done,” be it a matter of sickness, life or death let us also take to heart the other great value statement from the Old Testament book of Micah 6:8, all God asks is that you “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.”
IMPORTANT INVITATION. On 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, at 12 noon Pope Francis has asked all believers in solidarity to pray the OUR FATHER to intercede for God’s compassion on humanity at this time of extreme suffering. See Zenit .
IMPORTANT NOTICE. A range of MARFAM RESOURCES are available for this time of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, in line with the 2020 theme OUR WORLD A FAMILY OF FAMILIES. Read more:…………………