- The Prior General reflects on the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, on the world crisis caused by the coronavirus.
- He asks the intercession of St. Joseph so that the Lord “may deliver us from the epidemic and strengthen us in the Spirit”.
- The situation is an opportunity to “contemplate Christ on the cross of those who suffer, pray for them and practice mercy”.
- In his message to the whole Augustinian Recollect family he puts the patron of the Order as a sign of “the beauty of simplicity and the joy of poverty of spirit”.
TO THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECT FAMILY
Dear brothers and sisters:
In celebrating the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, custodian of the Holy Family and protector of the Order, from Maracaibo, Venezuela, I invite the entire Augustinian Recollect Family to get united in living with faith the crisis the world is in due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Let us ask, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, that the Lord deliver us from the epidemic and strengthen us in the Spirit.
In these times of crisis, the governments of the countries at risk have declared a state of alarm and have taken drastic isolation measures to prevent mass contagion. Both Pope Francis and all the bishops have made these decisions their own and acted accordingly. That is what we are asked to do: support what the authorities and society recommend us, assuming the restrictions and sanitary indications.
But let’s go further. Let’s discover this difficult time as a time of grace. The virus holds us back, the economy falters, and our securities fade away. Let us give ourselves a moment to ponder on the stability we think we lost, and let us rediscover our need for humanity and meaning. As pastoral work and activities come to a standstill, this Lenten season provides us with a favorable opportunity to return to the heart, calm our spirit and go out to meet Christ.
Pope Francis has just told us: “In this epidemic situation, when we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of communion that unites all members of the Church. United to Christ we are never alone, but we form a single Body, of which He is the Head ”(March 15, 2020).
Consequently, the coronavirus offers us the opportunity to contemplate Christ on the cross of those who suffer, pray for them and practice mercy. And it also gives us the opportunity to evangelize, and to bear witness to our hope. Powered by faith and love let us strive to create communion and brotherhood in the community. Let us dream of new ways of encounter and relationship in the family and in society.
Prayer and creativity
We all have been made vulnerable by this human and social crisis, but with prayer, creativity and solidarity we can be a blessing to those people who suffer from the coronavirus isolated from others and in solitude. There are many people who suffer, victims of human selfishness; let’s not forget them.
Where there is charity and love, there the Lord is present. Concern and interest in the concrete person, both in the religious community and in families, creates human warmth, encourages and helps to face difficulties. Let us be creative to offer another way to accompany the person suffering from the disease and even to develop the apostolate. Let’s look for new ways to communicate with the faithful through social networks, phone calls, WhatsApp messages … Let’s invite everyone to be united humanly and spiritually.
Our strength at this moment is the prayer entrusted to the Father of mercy. I ask that each community organize prayers and find a way for the entire Augustinian Recollect Family to be in prayer asking the Lord for the health of those suffering from the epidemic and to free us from contagion. We trust in the prayer of our contemplative sisters and in that of all brothers and sisters. “Let us not address God only with words, but with sentiments in our soul and the enlightenment of our thoughts, together with pure love and simple affection” (Saint Augustine, s. Dni in monte, 2,3, 13).
We thank the Augustinian Family (Order of Saint Augustine, Order of the Discalced Augustinians and Order of Augustinian Recollects) for the invitation to participate in the day of prayer on March 20. A prayer has been composed for the occasion which can be used in the liturgical celebrations of the community or, in the case of the laity, as a prayer of the family or of its members.
Saint Joseph, protector and dreamer
Saint Joseph reminds us of the importance of silence to find ourselves and allow ourselves to be found by God. And, in a world in which we tend to complicate our lives and create so many needs, the holy Patriarch shows us the beauty of simplicity and the joy of poverty of spirit. In a world where we seek a rational explanation for everything, he teaches us to discover the importance of gratuitousness and contemplation.
At the beginning of his pontificate, seven years ago, Pope Francis also appealed to him: “Also today,” he said, “before so many clusters of gray sky, we must see the light of hope and give ourselves hope. Keep the creation, every man and woman, with the gaze of tenderness and love; it is to open a gap of light in the midst of so many clouds and to bring the warmth of hope. And, for the believer, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we carry has the horizon of God, which has been opened to us in Christ; it is founded on the rock that is God ”.
In order to promote in each country the care for creation and the effective practice of solidarity and charity, the Order of Augustinian Recollect established the solidarity network ARCORES. And now, when we have just decided to transfer the community of the San Ezequiel house, together with the Institute of Augustinology, the Augustinus publishing house and the ARCORES headquarters, to the to the previous provincial curia of the defunct Province of Saint Joseph along Huesca Street, no. 33 in Madrid, the General Council has given to this new house the name of “Casa San José” (House Saint Joseph). We trust in the protection of our holy Protector so that the Lord continue to move hearts and transform lives.
May Saint Joseph teach us to always trust in the Lord, who even instructs us in the dead of night (s. 15). We ask the Saint to protect the Order and help us to learn to live in simplicity of heart and to dream of a future open to the Spirit so that we all may have one mind and one heart directed towards God.
Maracaibo, March 19, 2020.
Miguel Miró OAR