Rescuing Elements

By Angie Escarsa

For months, my family has been faithful in praying the rosary as requested by Pope Francis after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Since March we pray the rosary as a family and offer it for the whole world, especially for many people who have been infected and affected by the virus. I am now back in Ireland, and we continue to pray the rosary as a family. Thanks to social media it is still possible for me to join them online every day

However, recently I suddenly thought that God seems to be very quiet. Every day we bring forth our petition of healing for the whole world, to have an end to this pandemic and that one day we will wake up with some normality of life. We entrust everything to God. Our faith teaches us to believe that “with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:3-7)

But why then does God appear to be silent? The pandemic still imposes a certain fear within people and a sense of anxiety due to the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Then I realized that God always speaks to us and indeed more than ever during this pandemic. I remembered what Jesus said to His disciples “If your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move, nothing would be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:22-27) Perhaps, in this time of pandemic, we are being given the opportunity to rediscover our true selves in relation to God and to each other.

Dr. Gaven Kerr, a Philosophy lecturer in Maynooth College, Ireland, states in his reflection that, “God permits human beings the dignity of coming together and acting in such a way that we can deal with this crisis. This is manifested not only in our turning to God but also in turning to our neighbor.”

We are in uncharted waters; this crisis is real, unpredictable and also dangerous. But rather than despair, he encourages us to search for a “rescuing element.” Friedrich Holderlin in his poem Patmos says “Where there is danger, a rescuing element grows as well.”

So then, what are our “rescuing elements?” Dr. Gonzales offers us the following thoughts, which I believe are true and can be practiced during this pandemic.

First, we need to accept that all things are not negotiable. To be human is to live with and accept non-negotiable truths such as...I will die, those I love will also die, and thus to love is itself the risk of our fragile human existence.

Second, to belong to a shared humanity is to be fragile, in need, and not self-sufficient. When I open myself to others, when I choose to love, I am allowing both suffering and compassion into my life.

Lastly, as Jesus teaches us, we must become as little children again. Here hope lies, not in the power of independence, but in the weakness of codependence which is our sustaining strength.

Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh in his article published in The Tablet magazine on June 27, 2020, believes that Covid-19 pandemic shows it is not true that what we do to the natural world will not have a negative impact on human health and well-being. Either we drastically change our ways of relating to the natural world, or we must get ready for the next pandemic.

We believe that God is the great healer, the source of all beauty and love. By coming together in faith, we are also invited to participate in God’s healing activity in our world today. This choice is in our hands.

Columban lay missionary Angie Escarsa lives and works in Ireland.