Coronavirus 2020: Shadows and Lights

Sr. Mª Josefa Mollar, OP
Dominicas de la Enseñanza de la I. C., Spain

13 March 2020. And then it all stopped.

School activities, gymnasiums, cultural and recreational assistance and activity centres, cinemas, bars, theatres, shopping centres, churches, almost everything, have ceased. Plans, personal projects, schedules, medical appointments, shopping, improvement works and a long list of what was on personal diaries were put on a waiting list.

But life did not stop. We continued to live and to welcome what each new day had in store for us. One of the novelties was the use of a new vocabulary: pandemic, containment, state of alert, gloves, masks, coronavirus, hand hygiene, disinfection, social distance, reduction of groups of people, no travel, fines, protocols, …

Our minds opened to this vocabulary and its meaning; as well as to the reorganisation of our spaces of coexistence, our schedules, our way of working, our free time and all mental plans and structures had become obsolete.

And to think that as religious women, we have always talked about novelty and discovered that we were limited in some many ways…

And then an invisible virus arrived, with a crown that generated many shadows in our lives and disrupted them to the point that we could no longer recognise them.

Now, after a few weeks, we discover that it has been a time of confinement for us to REINVITE ourselves from all congregational, community, ecclesial and mission levels.

First of all, it would be a good idea to talk about the SHADOWS that the virus has generated:

The first shadow was the sudden death of an 89-year-old sister on 26 March. She had been taken to hospital because of a fall the day before. The words of the Gospel of Matthew come to mind (24:42-43): “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept “. This is how the fall came about.

On the same day, March 25, another sister went for tests and was hospitalized until April 23. Leaving home alone and death in her soul as she walked to the ambulance was like a spear that pierced our hearts.

At the same time, in the community, we had two sisters confined and treated by the Primary Care Centre of the Social Security on March 18 and 21.  

And I wonder and we wonder: who brought the CORONAVIRUS to Vallirana? How did it get here? We are a small, insignificant town that almost nobody knows!

Another very dark shadow appeared on the horizon: not being able to give a Christian burial to the body of our deceased sister. On Sunday 29th we made a simple prayer that we sent to the communities and people close to us, remembering the time scheduled for her cremation.

Like so many other religious communities and families, we have experienced very closely a protocol that is incomprehensible and lacking in humanity.

The third shadow appeared in a sneaky and silent way in two of the older sisters affected by our sister’s death: discouragement, a slight feeling of depression and a weakening of physical strength. The days passed and little by little the situation improved thanks to their effort and to the warmth, affection, the closeness of the sisters and the strength of prayer and care for the spiritual life.

The fourth shadow consisted in caring for the confined sisters with care and affection, communicating with them by mobile phone.

And the LIGHTS arrived.

  • The closeness and continuous support of the Prioress General and all the help and guidance she has given us.
  • Signs of affection from so many people who knew the deceased sister, teachers, former students, priests, sisters, and communities.
  • The generosity of some families who sent us prepared food, protective equipment against the virus, services through social services and civil protection, and phone calls that were continuous for several days.
  • A great light was shed by a URC document “GUIDE TO PSYCHOLOGICAL ATTENTION DURING THE TIME OF THE QUARANTINE IN THE RELIGIOUS LIFE AND PRAYER OF THE UNINPSI de Comillas”. The different situations presented in the document, as well as the feelings expressed in it, helped us to identify ourselves and to overcome the situation we were experiencing. Other documents and reflections from the URC.
  • The protection of the martyred sisters Mª Rosa Adrover and Mª Carmen Zaragoza.
  • On April 23rd, our sister came home from hospital. It was a great joy to find the closeness of a sister who had spent her hospitalization completely alone. At the hospital she only had one way to communicate with the sisters: a mobile phone.
  • These lights have encouraged us to REINVENT ourselves:
  • Breaking the usual schedules and setting up new ones.
  • Living the Eucharist and religious services through television or radio.
  • Reinventing our way of living spirituality by welcoming all that the media offer us.
  • Holy Week was followed live from Rome. Living Easter through the experience of death.
  • To discover in the daily psalms the Word of God who spoke to us in the midst of the pandemic with words of consolation.
  • To experience the richness of the community among those present and in the public.
  • Make a community reading of the various documents sent by the URC during this period.
  • Become familiar with various aid and solidarity initiatives.
  • Support the initiative of the Grup de Treball Estable de Religions (GTER) which has created a space with messages and prayers to accompany in case of bereavement, illness or suffering due to the COVID-19 crisis. The denominations that form part of the Interreligious Council of Catalonia have produced videos and other spiritual proposals to accompany in moments of difficulty and suffering.
  • Many other lights have emerged in the midst of this pandemic. These are just a brief example close to the community.

We can add two new lights: one, on April 29th, on the occasion of the celebration of our sister Saint Catherine, the two confined sisters were released. Sunday, May 3rd, was a feast day and again we celebrated fraternity all together.

The second, today, May 5, at 12:30 pm, the ashes of our deceased sister arrived. The seven sisters of the community welcomed them in the porter’s lodge and went in procession to the chapel to place them on the altar. We had a few minutes of contemplation and we did a simple prayer and sang some songs.

I would like to end this reflection with a few verses from the Psalms of Lauds of 4 May 2020. They fill us with light, strength, and hope.

“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains”. Isaiah 42:16.

“Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants… And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us… ” Psalm 89.

   Send article as PDF   

Similar Posts