As the news of what is going on in the world, leaves us sad and scared, Pope Francis says we must turn to God to help us conquer our fear.
Pope Francis gave this reminder today, March 26, as he offered his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta for the victims of Coronavirus, which so far has claimed over 7500 lives in Italy.
In today’s homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s first reading from Exodus 32:7-14, in order to demonstrate how idols can disrupt our lives, especially when our trust and priorities should instead be with God, reported Vatican News.
As the Pontiff acknowledged a sad reality, Francis observed: “In these days there’s so much suffering. There’s a lot of fear.”
This fear, he recognized, includes that “of the elderly who are alone in nursing homes, or hospitals, or in their own homes, and don’t know what will happen. The fear of those who don’t have regular jobs and are thinking about how to feed their children. They foresee they may go hungry. The fear of many civil servants. At this moment they’re working to keep society functioning and they might get sick.”
Francis then recognized “there’s also the fear, the fears, of each one of us.”
“Each one,” he said, “knows what their own fears are.”
After also in his homily warning against idols which only further distance us from God and His help and closeness, he prayed: “We pray to the Lord that He might help us to trust, and to tolerate and conquer these fears.”
Before concluding the Mass, the Pope exhorted faithful to partake in Spiritual Communion in this difficult time, and ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.
Here are the Holy Father’s words, followed by the prayer for Spiritual Communion:
I prostrate myself at your feet, O my Jesus, and I offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abases itself in its nothingness in Your Holy Presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your Love; I desire to receive You in the poor abode that my heart offers You. While waiting for the happiness of a Sacramental Communion, I want to possess You in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, that I may come to You. May Your Love inflame my whole being, in life and in death. I believe in You, I hope in You, I love You. Amen.
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.
It was announced in recent days that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time.
This comes at a time too when the Italian bishops’ conference has canceled public Masses throughout the nation, until at least April 3rd, following guidelines put out by Italian authorities.
In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican has taken other steps to keep people safe and to stay close to the Pope, even if from a distance. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.
The Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
To date, the Vatican has confirmed that four people have been tested positive for Coronavirus in the Vatican, and those who were in close contact with them are all being quarantined at home. Recent reports, not confirmed yet by the Holy See, note there is an Italian monsignor who works at the Italian section of the Vatican Secretariat for State, and lives the Pope’s residence, Santa Marta, has also tested positive and is being hospitalized for COVID19.
The Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied reports which say the Pope was tested since then for COVID19.
By this evening in Rome, Italy’s civil protection agency will confirm that more than 7,000 Italians have died from the virus.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily can be read below:
In the first Reading is the scene of the people’s mutiny. Moses had gone up to the mountain to receive the Law, which God gave to him in stone, written by His finger. But the people got bored and gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him: “But this Moses, for sometime we haven’t known where he is, where he has gone and we are without a guide. Make us a god that will help us to go on.” And Aaron, who later would be a priest of God, but there he was the priest of the stupidity of the idols, said: “But yes, give me all the gold and silver you have,” and they gave it all and made that golden calf (Cf. Exodus 32:1ff).
In the Psalm we heard God’s lament: “They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.” And here, at this moment, when the Reading begins: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’” — a true apostasy! — from the living God to idolatry. They didn’t have the patience to wait for Moses to return: they wanted novelties; they wanted something, a liturgical show, something . . .
I would like to refer to some things <in regard to> this. First of all, that idolatrous nostalgia in the people: in this case, they thought of Egypt’s idols, but <it was> the nostalgia to return to the idols, to return, to go back to the worst, being unable to wait for the living God. This nostalgia is an illness that is also ours. One begins to walk with the enthusiasm of being free, but then the complaints begin. “But yes, this is a hard moment, the desert, I’m thirsty, I want water, I want meat . . . but in Egypt they ate onions, good things, and here there aren’t any . . . “Idolatry is always selective: it makes you think of the good things it gives you but it doesn’t make you see the bad things. In this case, they were thinking of how they were at table, with these very good meals that pleased them so much, but they were forgetting that that was the table of slavery. Idolatry is selective.
Then, something else: idolatry makes you lose everything. To fashion the calf, Aaron asks them: “Give me <your> gold and silver,” but it was the gold and silver that the Lord had given them, when He said to them: “Ask the Egyptians to lend you gold,” and then they went with them; it was a gift of the Lord and, with the Lord’s gift, they made the idol. And this is really awful. However, this mechanism also happens to us, when we have attitudes that lead us to idolatry, we are attached to things that distance us from God, because we make another god and we make it with the gifts that the Lord has given us — with the intelligence, with the will, with the love, with the heart . . . they are gifts proper of the Lord, which we use to engage in idolatry.
Yes, one of you might say to me: “But I don’t have idols at home. I have a Crucifix, Our Lady’s image, which aren’t idols. . .:” No, no, in your heart. And the question we must ask today is: what is the idol you have in your heart, in my heart — the hidden way out where I feel well, which moves me away from the living God. And we also have an attitude, with idolatry, that is very clever: we know how to hide the idols, as Rachel did when she ran away from her father and hid <the household idols> in the camel’s saddle and among clothes. Among our clothes of the heart, we too have hidden many idols.
The question I would like to ask today is: what is my idol? That idol of mine of worldliness . . . and idolatry also touches piety because they wanted the golden calf, not <for> a circus, no, but to do adoration. “They prostrated themselves before it.” Idolatry leads you to a mistaken religiosity, rather: so many times, worldliness, which is idolatry, makes you change the celebration of a Sacrament into a worldly feast. An example, I don’t know, I think, we think, I don’ know, let us imagine a wedding celebration. One doesn’t know if it’s a Sacrament, where the newlyweds truly give all and love one another before God, and promise to be faithful before God and receive God’s grace, or if it’s a fashion show, how this one and that one and the other are dressed . . . <it’s> worldliness; it’s idolatry. This is an example. Because idolatry doesn’t stop; it always goes on.
The question I would like to ask all of us today is: what are my idols? Each one has his own. What are my idols? Where do I hide them? — so that the Lord won’t find them? And at the end of <our> life He says to each one of us: “You are corrupted. You moved away from the way I indicated to you. You prostrated yourself before an idol.”
Let us ask the Lord the grace to know our idols. And if we can’t throw them out, at least have them in the corner . . .
Finally, the Pope ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, inviting <the faithful> to make a Spiritual Communion.
Here Is the Prayer Recited by the Pope
My Jesus, I believe you are really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. As I cannot receive you sacramentally now, at least come spiritually into my hearty. As You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not let me ever be separated from You.
Before leaving the Chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the ancient Marian antiphon Ave Regina Cael rum (“Hail Queen of Heaven”) was intoned.[ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ full homily at Santa Marta]