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updated 12:33 PM CEST, Jul 31, 2020

Corona Virus and our Franciscan Response with faith and science

Humanity can come together

In 1918 the world was battling a vile flue which seemed to have affected a third of the world population and killed more than 50 million people. It was a time when the world community had limited resources and communication to help each other. But yet at that time people of good will, Catholic Church, religious orders and world leaders have done their best to combat that pandemic. And now our humanity again is faced with yet another big calamity, a pandemic that takes away many beloved lives and makes many to suffer. We express our deep solidarity with all those brothers and sisters that are affected and battling this pandemic.

Arm yourself with faith and science

The scientific community is trying its best to find  a vaccine and other ways to support those who suffer. In humans this virus, according to some experts, could cause respiratory infections, fever and other complications which are mostly mild but for some elderly and others who already have health problems it can be potentially lethal. According to WHO (7 march 2020):

Currently, there are no vaccines or specific pharmaceutical treatments available for COVID-19. Public health interventions are and will continue to be an important tool to reduce transmission and prevent spread of COVID 19

Faced with this reality people begin to realize the importance of working together while a few still are selfish with their own vested interests. But our true response consists in obeying the directions of WHO and our respective country’s healthcare directives. Michelle Baschelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights has invited the governments to take great care to protect the vulnerable. Pope Francis has invites us to manifest our spiritual closeness:

“We shall manifest to others our spiritual closeness. Our God is close and asks us to be close to each other, not to move away from us. And in this moment of crisis for the pandemic we are experiencing, this closeness asks us to manifest more ... It is true that today 'we cannot perhaps, physically get closer because of the fear of contagion', but we can awaken in us an attitude of closeness between us; with prayer with help, there are many ways of closeness "."

Universal Solidarity

Some world leaders already begin to talk about solidarity. Yes we need universal solidarity to come together as human beings. Brother Francis of Assisi  our founder has invited us to care and protect the cosmic fraternity. We have to also always remind ourselves of our responsibility to go beyond ordinary ways of looking at the reality or a difficult situation brought to us now. We also need to prepare us and others for a healthy way of living. While safeguarding individual country’s interests what the human world needs to do is to have concern for the wellbeing of all people who are our family members. We have universal responsibility which respects other’s right to live a healthy, dignified and safe life in their mother land. Business avarice, ecological degradation, war and manipulations have torn the world apart. But now the time is ripe for the world leaders to work together, share medical information, support concretely to face the crisis and bring it to an end. As Capuchins we could respond in the following ways with faith, responsibility and fraternal goodness:

Possible Franciscan and human response

Pray: Join hands and hearts in prayer asking God to heal the world further. Prayer brings strength, healing and consolation.

Br. Roberto Genuin our General invites us saying:

Let us plead with him for those who are infected and for those who take care of them; and let us ask him at this moment to sustain faith and hope within each of us and within our fraternities.

Seek Medical help: Meet the doctors if you have the symptoms related to this virus like continued sore throat, headache, coughing, runny nose, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, fatigue, and fever.

Stay Positive: Try to lift up your spirit and that of others with hope bringing hymns, songs and concern filled words. Remind and support people to keep trying to be optimistic. Updating ourselves with scientific and objective news about this crisis can also help us.

Recognize: Hats off to all those doctors and healthcare personnel who work selflessly to heal people. Their work is so challenging and demanding. May they be blessed also with good health. Thanks and bless them.

Support: Let us do what we can do to support the good initiatives of Pope Francis, WHO and our governments. And inspire the rich to think of the needy poor and donate money to care for the vulnerable who are sick.

Strengthen: Individually, we can also strengthen our immune system following the directions of our doctors and other healthcare experts.

Protect yourself and others:  Adhere to the hygiene related suggestions like using the masks, washing the hands with soap and sanitizers, covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing. Avoid crowded areas and follow the directives of remaining at home.

Self-care: Experts agree that if we stay healthy we can combat the virus. Along with the medical care (in need), we can also add healthy natural food, vitamin C and D containing fruits and vegetables, some fitness exercises according to one’s age, getting enough sunlight (contains Vitamin D), positive thinking and spiritual contemplation of God’s love.

Read good books: In the continued lock down conditions people may get bored and depressed. But reading good biographies, spiritual books and self-help books can strengthen us. Visiting healthy websites and reading blogs and watching videos as mentioned below  can prepare us to face the reality.

Handle fear and anxiety: Expert also caution us to avoid repeated watching, listening and reading the news items and videos that can create anxiety and distress. It is good to dedicate a particular moment of the day to get some updates from standard news channels only.

Lift up your spirit with Hope: Many people from China, Italy and other places started to sing and strengthen one another. Singing and encouraging one another brings new hope and motivation.

Pope Francis invites us with these words coming from his heart:

“We have to find the concreteness of small things, to have simple attention towards those around us, family, friends. Understand that in small things there is our treasure. There are minimal gestures that sometimes get lost in the anonymity of everyday life, however gestures of tenderness, of affection, of compassion that are decisive, and important. For example, a hot plate, a caress, a hug, a phone call are familiar gestures of attention in every day realities that make life make sense and that there is communion and communication between us. "

Some useful Links:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-51886547/coronavirus-italians-sing-from-their-windows-to-boost-morale
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/02/how-to-protect-yourself-coronavirus
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

God heal and strengthen our world!

With fraternal solidarity and prayers

Charles Alphonse and Jaime Rey Ofm Cap