Cardinal encourages consecrated Catholics to protect their health, and to pray

The prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life has encouraged religious to intensify their prayer during the coronavirus outbreak, and to obey requests of religious and civil authorities for health’s sake.

“The most effective testimony we can provide is, in first place, the serene and convinced serenity to what we are requested from those who govern us, both at the state and church level, to everything that is requested to the protection of our health, as private citizens and as communities,” read a March 18 letter to consecrated men and women signed by Joao Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

“It is a duty of both charity and gratitude that each one of us, individually and as a community, may intensify constant prayer for all those who are helping us overcome this difficult moment. Authorities, members of government, health professionals at all levels, volunteers, all those who offer their valuable work for this calamity may be object of our prayer and the offering of our sacrifices!”

Cardinal Braz de Aviz noted that we are living this Lent “in a very particular manner,” that “no one could have thought of or imagined, and that really requires each day from each one of us a change in our style and way of living.”

“Normally during Lent we multiply charitable initiatives and intense moments of prayer and meditation to prepare ourselves with a renewed and purified spirit for the Easter celebrations, and in our communities the times of celebration and gathering become also more intense. Nevertheless, this year we are called to live the intense time of faith, always with the same intensity, but in a completely different manner.”

Addressing contemplative communities, he urged them to intensify their prayer “even with greater energy … with the certainty that the Lord will not take longer to listen and in his infinite mercy will push away this grave scourge.”

Those who cannot assist at Mass he urged to “offer up to the Lord with joy” this “great sacrifice,” and to live it “in communion with all those who cannot attend regularly because of the lack of priests.”

“For those who can, please do not stop providing concrete signs of closeness with our people, always in conformity with the norms established by the authorities and in full fidelity to our own charisms.”

The cardinal recalled that “the means at our disposal to eradicate misfortunes and calamities in our highly technologically advanced times are the same that were used by our forefathers” Prayer, sacrifice, penance, fasting, and charity; powerful weapons to obtain from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus the grace of full healing from such a devastating disease.”