FROM THE VATICAN – CORONAVIRUS, ITALY AND QUARANTINE: A DAY AT A TIME

Guess what! The virus must have hit Facebook! I got 6 messages from Facebook today regarding two of my recent posts: “Your post goes against our Community Standards so only you can see it. See options.”

One post regarded the online daily Mass of Pope Francis with commentary in English by Sr. Bernadette Reis and the second involved my re-post of a story in Aleteia news entitled, “Yes, there is a Saint Corona!” I got that notice but the two pieces FB seemed to be against did indeed post!

So Facebook’s “community standards” do not include the Pope and saints! I guess we have some new people to pray for!

Here are some photos I took today at the end of the Angelus, the rosary on the Glorious Mysteries and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary recited by Cardinal Angelo Comastri and a small group of faithful (who keep the prescribed social distance!) in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair. I obviously took these while watching on TV.

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There will be a very special moment tonight in Italy when everyone in the entire nation (we sure hope it will be everyone!) has been asked to stop what they are doing and tune in to television or online sites (Vatican, EWTN) at 9 pm for the recitation of the rosary for an end to the coronavirus. Join us if you can or recite a rosary – even a decade (!) – at 9 pm local time wherever you live!

Now, for the laugh of the day: I re-tweeted this today after about a minute of laughing! I dedicate this to teachers everywhere!

shonda rhimes @shondarhimes -· Mar 16
Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.

FROM THE VATICAN

1. PAPAL INTERVIEW: Pope Francis on facing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic: In an interview with the Italian daily newspaper, “La Repubblica”, Pope Francis says he is praying for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, and asks everyone to be close to those who have lost loved ones. “I asked the Lord to stop the epidemic: ‘Lord, stop it with your hand’. That is what I prayed for”. Pope Francis revealed the content of his prayer in an interview with Italian journalist, Paolo Rodari, published in Wednesday’s edition of “La Repubblica” newspaper. (Vatican news): https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-coronavirus-interview-repubblica-pandemic-covid-coronavirus.html

2. GENERAL AUDIENCE: Pope at Audience: Make mercy the air you breathe – During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis re-calls “Mercy” as the first theme he chose to discuss as Pope, adding that as the new Bishop of Rome, he felt its message had to be transmitted. The fifth Beatitude, began Pope Francis, is different than the others: it is the only one “in which the cause and effect of happiness coincide”. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”, he read. Those who exercise mercy, explained the Pope, “will be shown mercy”. (Vaticannews): https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-general-audience-make-mercy-air-you-breathe-5th.html

At the end of the audience, Francis said: “Tomorrow we will celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. In life, work, family, joy and sorrow he always sought and loved the Lord, meriting the praise of Scripture as a just and wise man. Always invoke him with confidence, especially in difficult times, and entrust your lives to this great Saint.

“I join in the appeal of the Italian bishops who in this health emergency have promoted a moment of prayer for the whole country. Every family, every faithful, every religious community: all united spiritually tomorrow at 9 p.m. in the recitation of the Rosary, with the Mysteries of Light. I will accompany you from here.

“We are led to the luminous and transfigured face of Jesus Christ and His Heart by Mary, Mother of God, health of the sick, to whom we turn with the prayer of the Rosary, under the loving gaze of Saint Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family and of our families. And we ask him to take special care of our family, our families, especially the sick and the people who are taking care of them: doctors, nurses, and volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.”
Check your time zone to be united with Italy (Italy now ahead of East Coast by 5 hours).

CORONAVIRUS, ITALY AND QUARANTINE: A DAY AT A TIME

Once again, I am in touch with the outside world via media, especially social media, but I guess most of us are in touch this way nowadays! I did actually go outside today to empty the garbage and get a few things at the mini market outside my front door. They really know how to take advantage of a crisis with their high prices!

Speaking of being in touch: I am very moved and deeply grateful for so many messages from around the world, from family, close friends, friends I’ve not seen in a while, friends and fans from different continents! You bring such sunshine into my life! Not just because of your messages but because of the memories they bring to mind! Countless memories of family events, times shared with friends in their homes or here in the Eternal City during a visit. How blessed I was that it was last summer that two nieces and their families decided to visit Rome! Wow, Beth and Christie, just think if you had planned on 2020! This is one of those many moments we say “Thank you, God!”

I so enjoyed being live (‘live’ being the key word these days!) today with Teresa Tomeo on our weekly “Catholic Connection” radio program (Ave Maria radio and carried by EWTN). Just hearing another voice, interacting with another person, is special. I am sure you are all learning that as well. I’m reading about closures and lockdowns in the U.S, and I see things are developing quickly.

Paradoxically, it seems that “keeping safe distances” is actually bringing people together. Families now watch movies together, play games, read books to their children, invent stories or games – and actually sit around a dinner table and eat together.

I realize the immense difficulties that families with small children, especially 3 or 4 youngsters, have. Children are out of school for heaven only knows how long and they are not supposed to go with Mom and Dad for a walk around the block (not seen as a necessity by the police) or go to a local park to play. I guess that I why the tweet I posted made me laugh!

What I want to bring you today in bullet points are thoughts I have on the crisis, notes I’ve made in recent days and things I’ve heard, seen or read about what’s happening in Italy:

– from Day 1 of lockdown, I’ve wondered what happens if someone has an emergency plumbing or electrical problem or (heaven forbid) WiFi goes out – I mean, a serious problem.. Are plumbers, etc. working? Can they come to your house? Surely we’d still have to stay 3 or more feet apart. I presume everyone would have masks and gloves, including the homeowner,
– I am guessing crime has gone down but so far have not seen any articles about that.
– I have also been wondering about barbers and beauty salons closing down: are we going to see a lot of long hair in coming weeks? Will I be braiding my hair in a month? I know that sounds frivolous but that’s OK!
– I do know that smog and pollution are way down (especially in China!) as I’ve seen some aerial photos of areas known for industry and factories where sir is a lot cleaner. Interestingly enough, I’ve also seen photos from Venice where the boat traffic is almost at a standstill. People posted photos of the empty canals where the water was so clean you could see the fish swimming around!
– Bars (when we say ‘bar’ in Italy we are referring to coffee bars) and restaurants are closed and another category of food has disappeared – street vendors, the kind usually found at or near major monuments.
– Supermarkets are open, as you know and they have strict rules for entering, shopping and keeping “the social distance.” Many announced that they would home deliver but they were so overwhelmed with requests that some are now posting notices that you have to be in a special category such as seniors living alone, to qualify for delivery. Seems fair to me.
– A new hospital catering to ICU units will go up as fast and as soon as possible in Milan. The local fairgrounds have offered a sizeable parcel of land to the region for this purpose.
– I have read that 10,000 doctors under the age of 30 (including recent grads) have been and will be called into service! By the by, pray hard, very hard for all the medical personnel. I’ve seen images on TV that would make you weep. I saw faces of doctor and nurses I thought had been in a fight, eyes red and puffy and faces almost lacerated by the constant wearing of face masks for hours and hours, even 24 hours at a time.
– TV stations here (at least Italian TV as I do not yet have my satellite up and working) have constant public service announcements about washing your hands, keeping safe distances, staying at home unless there is urgency, etc.
– It could be just me but I’ve seen a plethora of ads for cleaning products – especially anti-bacterial products – anything that will clean the surfaces of your home.

Each of us is living this experience in our own way –singles, couples, families, larger communities such as religious houses, etc. The real fun will come when eventually life gets back to a kind of normalcy and we can sit around the dinner table – at home or in a restaurant – and share our stories of coping. What have we learned? What was the hardest part? What was new and perhaps wonderful? What did each of us discover about ourselves?

I sense a lot of good interviews for my radio show, Vatican Insider!

Buona serata! Have a lovely evening!