In this situation of pandemic “that makes us aware that we are all potentially sick, for us, animated by the charisma of Camillus de Lellis, the announcement of Christian hope becomes even more urgent and perhaps even more audible by our brothers and sisters in humanity”.
This is the message shared among the Ministers of the Sick from the communications office of the order which today, 14 July, celebrates the feast of its founder.
“The difficult experience of having to face a pandemic like the one triggered by the coronavirus is proving to be an almost deafening shock”, the Camillians wrote in their message.
“The pandemic changed everything in an instant. If before we were used to living ‘a lot of space’ in ‘little time’, we suddenly found ourselves living in ‘little space’ with ‘a lot of time’ available”, the order continued.
“We have begun to understand, even in our religious or family and professional communities, that in a room, even a small one, you can feel isolated or alone depending on whether the solitude in which you live is able to offer human and spiritual content that allows our heart to be open, and not lose hope.
“We are learning that solitude and isolation are not the same thing: one can feel alone even in the midst of a large crowd.
“We have learned to ‘stay apart’, but solidarity, fraternity and communion among us, between religious communities, between religious institutes, at an ecclesial and/or civil level, have been even more intense, joyful, spontaneous and genuine: face masks, gloves etc…. have ceased to be simple albeit necessary personal protective equipment to become objects to use everyday or to gift between religious communities and provinces. They are a symbol of mutual concern and support in the daily battle for the care of the most fragile people”.
In the order’s note, all the topicality of the fourth Camillian vow emerges, which calls for consecration to the service of the sick even at the risk of life.
“We have seen [the vow] heroically lived by many religious but also by many lay professionals from the healthcare world, who have accepted and reinterpreted it within the ethics of their healthcare profession” , underline the Camillians.
“We were pained by the fact that in some care facilities we were unable, for precautionary reasons, to physically reach the sick: however, we saw, with amazement, that brothers and sisters – religious, volunteers, health workers, lay people – re-invented themselves for these sick people: ‘family members’ in affections, ‘friends’ in solidarity, ‘priests’ in the comfort of faith, ‘companions’ in fear and hope, sacrificing, for weeks, their personal affections, friendships, families and communities, up to the exhaustion of their physical energies and in several cases up to contagion and death.
“This is exactly the experience of Camillus de Lellis, when he threw his first companions in the trenches of the hospital, domestic hovels or great epidemics: in works and words, he was a master of resilience in fear and sacrifice, aware that this attitude generates presence; he embraced risk to create authentic proximity”.
“The pandemic we are going through is not a divine scourge”, concluded the Camillians.
“It is a sign to be read with humility and to be brought with patience and compassion.
“Suffering never leaves us the same: it makes us better or makes us worse. The death of some, the suffering of many and the fear of all are a sign that calls us to a humble and serene awareness: we are all human!
“Prayer is a safe anchor and, in this historical moment, as Camillians we are called to announce the Gospel of life, compassion and care, which entails the ability to evangelise and humanize suffering and death”.