We have had the blessing of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated at our Motherhouse. What a gift! What an interesting experience this has been. During one of our homilies by Father Donald Kinney, O.C.D., it was noted that this time may be the “finest hour” for our priests. Beyond doubt, for those of us whose charism includes praying and sacrificing for our priests, and knowing so many good and holy priests who love God, His Church and His people, we DO believe this is one of their finest hours. Our priests have given MANY hours in service to their people and during this time when the sacraments are restricted, we realize how blessed we are with their vocation, friendship and loving support. To our dear priests, we thank you, we love you, know of our deep gratitude.
We also wanted to share some beautiful reflections from two of our convents in CO and FL.
On the spiritual side, our priests (and sisters!) have been allowed a trial of closing churches and not having any gatherings with more than 10 persons. Needless to say this devastated our pastor, Fr. Manny and his associate, Fr. Flores. The day Fr. Manny had to lock the church, he said it was very emotional. But he turned that emotion into something proactive. He asked our sisters to join him and Fr. Flores in taking the Blessed Sacrament around the school and neighborhood block as a sign that Jesus has not left His people. It was beautiful to see cars stop and wait for a blessing. Additionally, he has two Masses a day (One in English and one in Spanish) streamed on the parish Facebook page and YouTube channel. We have sent messages to the students and families as well via video for catechesis and encouragement. Father Manny loves our community and told us that we would NOT go without Mass and that he would take care of his Carmelites by having Mass daily in the convent. We prayed a rosary (with Carmelite Music) streaming it to hundreds of families, parishioners and our teachers the day Pope Francis asked the world to pray. That day we also chanted Evening Prayer and many people joined us virtually. Many are asking for more streamed rosaries and prayer. We feel God is calling everyone out of their comfort zones and really turning to prayer during these challenging times. We feel Mother Luisita showing us how our charism is being given to our families in a unique and effective way. This has been a very grace-filled moment in which God is bringing out so much mercy and goodness in a world that has grown afraid and doesn’t know where to turn. Even though Miami is not on lockdown (yet), there is a silence and calm in the neighborhood. The traffic is gone, no noise or blowing of horns. It seems to say, “Now can you hear Me?”
We had a very beautiful experience yesterday. Father Thuerauf, our pastor, offered a private Mass in the church which the parish livestreamed over Facebook. Following the Mass, Father and our deacon felt inspired to do a Eucharistic procession around the neighborhood. The sisters joyfully followed in tow and provided the singing. A parishioner ran ahead and invited a number of our elderly parishioners to step out of their house to receive our Lord’s blessing. It was incredibly beautiful to see the Lord bless these faithful and simple souls. People stopped in their cars as we walked down the street and others spontaneously joined the procession. The parish posted photos of the procession on Facebook and as of 9:00 am this morning more than 32,000 people around the world have seen this beautiful testimony of God’s love. Clearly, we all are realizing more deeply our need for the Lord’s presence and grace.
If you have not read this yet, today’s headlines note…” Italian Priest Dies from Coronavirus After Giving up Ventilator to Another Patient”, “Italian priest sacrifices his ventilator for younger patient then dies of coronavirus”. This is just one of many stories of love and sacrifice, God bless our priests and God bless Father Giuseppe Berardelli.