Circular Letter of the Prior General
He is risen!
To all the Brothersand Co-workers, members of the Hospitaller Family of St John of God
We are reaching the end of our Lenten journey, and Easteris almost upon us to celebrate the joy of Christ's Resurrection. And so I amsending my Easter greetings to the whole Family of St John of God and to all yourloved ones and the guests in the Centres and Services of the Order, praying thatour Risen Lord will fill you all with comfort and hope. Happy Easter!
The whole world is living through a very particularmoment because of the coronavirus pandemic which is producing so muchsuffering, with so many people falling sick and dying. As I write this Easterletter to the whole Order, the situation is very dire in many parts of the world,especially in Europe, and it is expected to take time before we shall getthrough this distressing period, which will also cover Eastertide. Indeed, inmany parts of the world this year, Holy Week and the Solemnity of Easter willnot be celebrated in the customary manner. Many people will only be able tofollow it on the television or celebrate it in their homes. The important thingis to ensure that it does not pass unnoticed, because this year will also bringEaster and the Resurrection - the very foundation stone of our faith, our hopeand our life.
Beset by so much pain, suffering and death, moretypical of Good Friday than of Easter, it is hard to offer any cheering wordsor even mention joy and life, let alone resurrection. But, we must pin ourtrust and our hope wholly in the Lord of Life in which He also experienced sufferingand humiliation, and even death on the cross, but was sustained and resurrectedby His Father.
This is why the angel’s words to the women recounted inthe Gospel of St Matthew are more topically relevant to us and all humanity atthis time: Do not be afraid, for Jesus, who was crucified, is not here; hehas risen. This is the message of this year’s Easter to a frightened worldand Church, suffering from an unprecedented and unexpected pandemic. There issuch much pain, which I am certain will yet continue for some time to come. Letus not forget that, in all the pain, the Christ of Good Friday remainscrucified with all those who are suffering from the consequences of thispandemic. But let us lift up our eyes, for with Christ Himself we are called tolife and to Resurrection. We might sum up the message of this Easter in thesecular motto that has become popular in Italy over these days: Tutto andràbene- all will be well. Fear not: He is risen, and with Him we shallovercome.
You know from the news we have been reporting how muchthis pandemic is affecting the Order in the world, and especially how the HospitallerFamily of St John of God worldwide is engaging with the rest of society to curband try to halt the pandemic. Unfortunately, a large number of our own Brothersand Co-workers have fallen victim to contagion and some have even lost theirlives. We pay tribute to them for their generosity and dedication, in thecertainty that they are now living forever with the Risen Lord. We shall nevercease to keep all of them in our prayers.
I wish to thank and call to mind all those who areworking on the front line every day, as true and faithful sons of St John ofGod, who is certainly proud of you. Hospitality involves giving everythinggenerously, especially at such times as these. We must do so responsibly, takingall the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and others, but we must makesure that the sick and the poor are being cared for, especially those in greatestneed and who risk being excluded and passed by, such as the homeless, migrants,the disabled and others.
With my Easter letter I am therefore attaching thetestimony of one of our Co-workers from Madrid. His words, and above all hisfaith and commitment, united with that of our entire Family of St John of Godworldwide, are a message of hope, life and resurrection.
I commit the entire Hospitaller Family of St John ofGod to the special protection of our Founder and St John Grande who diedinfected in a plague epidemic. And I also place it under the protection of StRichard Pampuri, whose Jubilee Year at the request of the diocese of Pavia willclose on 1 May this year, in which we have also played a part, especially in theLombardy-Veneto Province. Lastly, we pray for the protection of Blessed JoséOlallo Valdés, of whom we celebrated the 200th year of his birth onFebruary 12th. They, and so many others, lived through similar or even the verysame situations as the one we are now having to come to terms with. Never didthey waver in their trust, faith and hope in the Risen Lord, and they teach usto be bold, and not to fear, as the Angel of the Lord said, because He isrisen! and therefore Tutto andrà bene – all will be well.
The General Government and the entireHospitaller Family of St John of God at the General Curia wish you al a HAPPY ANDBLESSED EASTER!.
Brother Jesús Etayo
Testimony of a Co-workerduring the COVID-19 pandemic
(Sent by WhatsApp to a Brother)
Good afternoon, Brother.
Difficult times to do anything other than offerall my encouragement and support.
I trust your health will allow you to performall your duties.
Over here, I have moved on to perform myprofessional work with the patients, which is what the House most needs at thistime.
Obviously this is a difficult situationfor all of us, as the very pillars that uphold our idea of society are quakingbeneath us. None of us have ever experienced a situation like this, or anythinglike it.
Working with these people as they look atyou with wide open eyes, not knowing whether they will live or die, clinging toa smile to avoid thinking that things might get worse, and knowing that a kiss,a caress, a hug will come up against the barriers of gloves, masks, gowns,etc., they essentially speak through their eyes. Eyes that, looking out over themask, express all the pent-up feelings that their mouth cannot put words to, andfeelings of anguish and uncertainty, and also, - why not? – also the certaintythat eventually everything will be over.
Seeing Jesus in others is an ability thatfaith in Christ alone can reveal, and that, dear Brother, is something I feelvery compellingly at this present time. Seeing the eyes of the suffering Lordbehind the eyes of the patient who is looking at me, makes me overcome thefatigue, concern and distress.
What good Samaritans people can be,without knowing it. What good followers of John of God, without knowing him.How topically relevant is the charism, how precious his legacy!
I thank you Brother, and the Order, for standingby the bedside of the suffering, and for allowing people like me to see Jesusin that bed.
As always, I am at your disposal.
With my warmest best wishes,
Angel Alberto Garcia
Nursing Auziliary at the San JoseInstitute Foundation
Brothers of St John of God
Madrid, 22 March 2020
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