Silence, bells, ambulance sirens, the noise of helicopters, more silence…. The diocese of Bresica suggested that its parish and religious communities make a “wise rereading” of the experiences they lived during the months of lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The title of this initiative was “Following the thread of memories so as to open our minds and hearts to the messages of the Lord.”
Our community, like everyone else, found itself suddenly living an unthinkable situation that forced us to re-examine every dimension of our daily life, literally redesigning the time and space around us. We ran a gamut of emotions: disorientation, a sense of helplessness and insecurity, the experience of the frailty of human limitations, the lack of freedom and the sudden closure of our book center. We perceived, almost tangibly, the tragedy experienced by so many of our fellow citizens in homes and hospitals just a few hundred meters from our own residence and then the expansion of the virus beyond Lombardy to touch people everywhere. We empathized with the sufferings of the sick, the pain of the countless people who died in solitude, grief at the sight of convoys of trucks carrying away their bodies, the almost super-human efforts of doctors (some of whom we knew) and of all those who channeled their professional training and human compassion into trying to treat each person entrusted to them in the best way possible…. As for our community, we tightened our bonds in a simple and real way around what we look upon as our “roots,” namely: a life of prayer and service of others.
All this helped us rediscover in a deeper way what it means to belong to a community of consecrated persons…a community of consecrated Paulines. We felt that the Holy Spirit was asking us to recover the capacity to rejoice in the small and positive things that society managed to give birth to in this trying time, for instance, the solidarity that springs from experiencing one’s limitations, the desire for interiority, and the rebirth of prayer within the family environment.
We felt that the Spirit was also asking us to get even more involved in the diocese of Brescia, to listen to the paths of suffering it has had to follow and must continue to follow, above and beyond the bewilderment of renewing a pastoral plan of action without yet knowing the “how’s” entailed. Moreover, the Spirit seems to be asking us, as FSPs, to rethink our apostolic service in order to be a more incisive evangelizing presence of hope in this part of the country. Finally, we asked the Spirit as a Pauline community, as consecrated women in the Brescia diocese, and as believers in the Risen Christ, to fill us with his own breath, which is the breath of life–risen life!