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This month,  we Little Sisters and our residents and staff will observe two major COVID milestones.

On March 11, 2021, we will have been in lockdown for a full year; and on March 19, 2021 we will finish the vaccination process at our residence in Washington, DC, with a compliance rate of nearly 100% percent among those who live and work here.

As I got my second vaccine, I was almost ecstatic. I wanted to sing the old standard, Happy Days Are Here Again!

Reality quickly set in, however. Nothing in our daily routine would change as a result of being vaccinated, at least for the foreseeable future. Our days are still ruled by the movements of an insidious enemy virus and the dictates of a maze of health experts and bureaucrats. I wanted to cry out with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? How long will you hide your face from us?” (cf. Ps 13:1).

But then in his mercy God brought light into my darkness.

I’ve been reading Patris Corde, the apostolic letter written by Pope Francis to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s designation as patron of the universal Church. I believe that our Holy Father wrote this letter specifically for the times in which we are living. His reflections have been helpful to me and I’d like to share them with you.

Referring to Joseph’s virtuous reaction to the Virgin Mary’s unexpected pregnancy, Pope Francis calls him an “accepting father” who can help us to accept life as it is, even when we don’t understand. “The spiritual path that Joseph traces for us,” he wrote, “is not one that explains, but accepts. Only as a result of this acceptance, this reconciliation, can we begin to glimpse a broader history, a deeper meaning.”

St. Joseph did not look for shortcuts, Pope Francis writes, but confronted reality with open eyes, accepting personal responsibility for it. “Joseph is not passively resigned, but courageously and firmly proactive. In our own lives,” the pope adds, “acceptance and welcome can be an expression of the Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude. Only the Lord can give us the strength needed to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.”

Pope Francis also calls St. Joseph a “creatively courageous father.” In the face of difficulty, he writes, “we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even know we had.”

The pope suggests that Joseph was able to turned challenges and problems into possibilities by always trusting in divine providence.

“If at times God seems not to help us,” our Holy Father writes, “surely this does not mean that we have been abandoned, but instead are being trusted to plan, to be creative, and to find solutions ourselves” rather than expecting God to intervene directly.

God trusts us to be creative and take initiative! While I find this an exciting concept, when it comes to COVID I wish God would just swoop down and take it all away!

But I guess that’s not how he has envisioned the COVID trajectory. So I turn again to St. Joseph, looking for encouragement in these trying times.

The pope writes of the “Christian realism” exemplified by Joseph. He shows us that believing does not mean finding facile and comforting solutions. “Reality, in all its mysterious and irreducible complexity, is the bearer of existential meaning, with all its lights and shadows.”

He cites St. Paul’s well-known words, “All things work together for good, for those who love God” (Rom 8:28); and St. Augustine’s addition to this phrase, “even that which is called evil.” Faith gives meaning to every event, however happy or sad, concludes Pope Francis.

God told St. Joseph, “Do not be afraid.” As I turn to St. Joseph, he tells me, “Do not be afraid. Set aside your fears, your frustrations and disappointments and embrace the way things are – both the positives and the negatives – not with mere resignation, but with hope and courage.”

Pope Francis assures us that if we follow St. Joseph’s example, we will be open to the deeper meaning of our current circumstances. “It does not matter if everything seems to have gone wrong or some things can no longer be fixed,” the Holy Father writes. “God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.”

Besides our COVID milestones this month, we will also be celebrating the feast of St. Joseph (March 19). And the day after is the first day of spring – I think I’ll plant some flowers.

Comments from readers

George Cardonas - 03/21/2021 12:44 AM
This blog is a gift from god. It is a blessing. And it is exciting to be seated, waiting patiently and silently, day after day on this spinning planet, for Jesus, the savior of mankind. The feelings of exultation and praise that bestow our every breath is truly of our heavenly father himself. Praise Jesus. Praise is all for you, Jesus. Every tear we cry, every beat of our heart, is for you Jesus. Jesus we adore you. We are nothing without you Jesus. Mary Mother of God gave her only son for our sins, as we are born horrible terrible evil sinners, and our only value and worth is when we return to Jesus for him to save us from our awful sinning ways. All we can do while on earth is sin, because Jesus alone has all power, and so we are left with 0% power and 100.0% sin. We wait for you Jesus. When you forgive us, we will finally be okay. Thank you Jesus for dying for us, it must have been awful, alone, on a cross, while you virgin mother looked on, weeping, while you died on that cross to redeem our nature of sin and evil. Without you Jesus we are all like the devil. But you will fix this for us Jesus, you alone Jesus have everything and we have nothing. If we have something Jesus while on earth we give it to you so that you will save us. If we don't gibe it all to you Jesus you will not save us and we will be thrown into an eternal pit of fire with Satan the devil. Please don't let that happen Jesus we will give you everything to avoid Satan's hell fire. When you return to us on earth, jesus, you will be met by billions of people who love and worship you. You will redeem us. You alone have made us to save us. Our sins will all be forgiven when you wrap your holy arms around all of us sinners and take away all of our sins, which is basically everything we have done, and everything that we are, because again, you alone designed us as sin ERS that can have no power and can only be saved by you because you alone have all power. Yes we love you Jesus.
Jose M Lorenzo - 03/15/2021 11:42 AM
Dear Sister Constance by looking at your picture. I do fill that God have blessed you with the gift of joy even in sufferings; Our Most Holy Trinity blessed me with the same gift. I have being blessed with so many graces that I some time fill largely under deserving them, until recently I came to the conclusion that may be because I had suffer a great deal in my life without complaining that I am overwhelm with divines gifts. This past year I am ashamed to say that it was a good year for me and this beginning of 2021 even better. This my story: I am a repented sinner but I never lost my faith only drifted from our Catholic Church but never from Our most blessed mother The Virgin Mary and the Holy Family. Saint Joseph is my Saint Patron. I went back to our Holy church after my retirement in 2017. From that day on after confession and Eucharist. I went to a 3 year period of purgation and in 2020. I receive again so many graces that it was like a blooming garden of flowers in the middle of the desert. Of course I pray for the sick and less fortunate with all my passion thanking Our Most Holy Trinity for giving me the blessing of loving all men kind through him. I am a living proof that God did not forsake man kind but this is part of a greater divine plan that we could not understand in our current and present time. Very humbly Sister thank you for the great opportunity given to me in your blob to respectfully submitting to every one this my humble opinion and true experience. With all my LOVE IN CHRIST. Jose M. Lorenzo, Usher at Our Lady of The Holy Rosary and Saint Richard in Pine Crest
Valli Leone - 03/15/2021 09:21 AM
Thanks, Sister Constance, for the enlightenment and the encouragement that your writing brings. As we read and listen more to articles like this and to the amazing Word of God, we are able to plunge more deeply into the supernatural joy of the Lord in every circumstance and to give thanks in it all. It’s great to be alive—in Christ Jesus! I think I’ll plant some flowers today, too! πŸŒΌπŸ’•πŸŒΌ
Luisa - 03/15/2021 09:14 AM
I think the message from Pope Francis is perfect for the times that we are leaving. Let’s pray together for our Nation

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