Pope Francis again today offered his private daily Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta for the victims of Coronavirus, and encouraged clergy to be courageous and visit the sick.
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. Last night, the situation escalated dramatically when the Italian government announced the entire country now will be on lockdown, essentially extending the ‘red zone’ restrictions to the entire country.
Again during today’s Mass, the Holy Father expressed his closeness to those suffering, the elderly, and all those working to contain and cure the virus.
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on a passage from the Book of Isaiah: “Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow”, reported Vatican News.
Like Adam and Eve, we tend to hide ourselves because of the shame we feel because of the things we have done. Sin makes us close in ourselves. God calls to us to talk about it with Him instead.
“And the Lord calls us, ‘ Come on let’s talk this over’, the Lord says,” Pope Francis said.” Let’s talk about your sin. Let’s talk about your situation. Don’t be afraid. No…. Come here. I’m able to change everything, the Lord says. “Don’t be afraid to come and speak about it. Be courageous even before your misery.”
Pope Francis then told the story about a saint who was discouraged. No matter what he did, he always felt that the Lord wasn’t satisfied. So, he asked the Lord what was missing. “Give me your sins. That’s what’s missing”, the Lord responded, the Pope said.
We deceive ourselves by not speaking with the Lord, Pope Francis continued. We pretend we are not sinners. This is what the Lord reproves the Doctors of the Law for. They did everything for appearance, he said, referring to the Gospel of Matthew 23.
“Appearance… Vanity… Covering the truth of our heart with vanity… Vanity never heals… Rather, it’s poisonous,” Francis warned. “It increases our hardness of heart. [Vanity] says, ‘don’t go to the Lord. Remain alone. Vanity is a place where we close ourselves to the Lord’s call. But the invitation of the Lord is that of a father, a brother. ‘Come on. Come here. Let’s talk. In the end, I’m the one who can change your life from red to white.”
The Pope concluded his homily, saying that the Word of the Lord shows us that our prayer can be real. We can even pray about the reality of our sins:
“The Lord knows who we are…but vanity invites us to cover that up. May the Lord help us.”
In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican is taking other steps to discourage crowds and keep people safe. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.
Moreover, 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, one person, an external visitor, has been tested positive for Coronavirus in the Vatican. The five people the individual had contact with, are being quarantined.
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.