Embrace the cross to find the hope that will carry us through this storm

Pope Francis delivers an extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi” blessing to the city and the world – normally given only at Christmas and Easter – from an empty St. Peter’s Square, as a response to the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Vatican, March 27, 2020.
Yara Nardi/Pool via Reuters

Dear Parishioners,

We have witnessed extraordinary happenings in this time of social distancing due to the novel coronavirus threat. Beaches, parks, and movie theatres are closed or off limits to us; our beloved church is closed for all gatherings and Masses (but open from 9-2 for individual prayer); we cannot see our families and friends for fear of becoming ill or exposing them to illness. It is a crazy time in our lives.

One of the most extraordinary visuals to be seen is the photo of Pope Francis, alone in the midst of an empty St. Peter’s Square. Add to that, his purpose for being there: he was delivering an “Urbi et Orbi” address, the title of which is usually reserved for addresses on Christmas and Easter. This one was calling on Jesus to calm the storm created by the coronavirus throughout our world.

Pope Francis prayed, alone, flanked by a miraculous crucifix commemorating the end of the 1522 plague in Rome, and an icon of the Blessed Mother entitled, “Protectress of the Roman People.” The pope likened our current crisis to that of the disciples on that boat during the storm, when Jesus calmed the waves.

He spoke of our need to realize that we are all on (in) the same boat, and that this storm that we are navigating will hopefully teach us how we are all connected, all fragile, and we need to help each other not only through this situation, but throughout our lives. Invoking the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis called upon us all to find the courage to “create spaces …to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.” He urged us to embrace the cross to find the hope that will carry us through this storm. From the pope’s mouth to God’s ear…