By Larissa I. López

Pope Francis’ reflections on the COVID-19 era are explained in the Preface of the book “Communion and Hope,” of the Dicastery for Communication, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. and written by Cardinal Walter Kasper and German Father George Augustin, reported Vatican News.

In the Preface, the Holy Father points out that the roots of our life are in Christ; in Him is the strength to address the difficult problems that await us after the crisis; in Him is the model of closeness, love and service.

New Hope and Solidarity

According to Vatican News, “Communion and Hope” is a volume rich in theological reflections, which can awaken “new hope and a new solidarity,” based on the certainty that as the spread of the pandemic happened in the first difficult months, so also today the Lord’s presence accompanies and encourages humanity.

In fact, the work was written by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by Father George Augustin, German priest, Founder, and Director of the Institute, named after his compatriot Cardinal.

Fundamental Questions

The Holy Father poses the pandemic as a “time of trial and choice.” Just as he said in the Prayer Vigil last March 27, describing the coronavirus “as a storm” that took everyone by surprise, changing family life, work, and public activities and leaving in its wake death, economic penuries and distance from the Eucharist and the Sacraments.

This dramatic situation, which unmasks man’s vulnerability, his inconsistency and his need of redemption, questions many certainties and has unleashed “fundamental questions about happiness” and “about the treasure of our Christian faith,” he writes in the Preface.

Where are the profound roots that support us all in storms? What is really important and necessary? The pandemic “is an alarm sign” that leads us, in fact, to reflect on all this. “It’s a time of trial and choice for us to orient our lives in a renewed way to God, our support, and end,” continues the Pontiff.

Solidarity and Service

In the text, the Bishop of Rome stresses his appeal to “solidarity” and to “service” against “global injustice” and indifference. In fact, the emergency situation leads us to understand how much we “depend on others’ solidarity and drives us to serve those that surround us in a new way.”

“We must be shaken by global injustice, to be able to “wake up and hear the cry of the poor and of our very gravely sick planet,” he says.

The Contagion of Love

Moreover, Pope Francis highlights that the start of the pandemic coincided with Eastertide, from whence proceeds the message that illumines the present and the future and avoids paralysis.

It is the message of the victory of life over death. “Easter gives us hope, confidence, and courage; it strengthens us in solidarity” and in fraternity, he recalls.

“The danger of contagion of a virus must teach us another type of “contagion,” that of love, which is transmitted from heart to heart. I am grateful for the many signs of willing spontaneous help and heroic commitment of the health personnel, the doctors, and the priests. During these weeks we felt the strength that came from faith.”

The Eucharist: Strength

The last part of the Preface is dedicated to faith in Christ. In this connection, the Holy Father recalls the “painful Eucharistic fast” that many Christians have experienced due to the halt of public celebrations and the emergency solution of media broadcasts.

However, he also stresses that no “virtual broadcast can substitute the Lord’s real presence in the Eucharistic celebration.” To it is owed the joy of the resumption of normal liturgical life, as “the presence of the Risen Lord in His Word and in the Eucharistic celebration will give us the necessary strength to address the difficult problems that await us after the crisis.”

And, as Jesus did to the disciples of Emmaus, the Pope repeats to the whole of humanity, as a sign of hope for the future, the words: “Do not be afraid! I have overcome death.”

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