Your Beatitude, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Military and Hospital Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, I urge you to remain firm in faith, firm in hope and active in charity.
As citizens, we are invited to take every sensible precaution by the health and political authorities, to avoid the risk of contagion.
As Christians, we are also called to read the Covid 19 epidemic in the "light of the Gospel" and to intensify our prayers. Intensifying prayers also means knowing better the face of God to whom prayers are addressed. The God we Christians believe in is a Father rich in mercy who takes care of every child, who is close to ev

ery misery and suffering, who does not chastise but forgives, who does not want the death of the sinner, but who converts and enlivens. Our God is the God of life and resurrection, so we must not be afraid, because he will not abandon us, even in the moment of illness and death, even if we have to abandon him.


An adult Christian faith does not ensure us a peaceful life without difficulties, but provides us with a new conception of life that gives us the strength to face the happy and sad events of existence in the certainty that nothing can separate us from the love that Jesus Christ has for us. The faith that is expressed in prayer has its own strength, with which we can entrust ourselves to the Lord to free us from evil and help us fight disease by using all the skill and knowledge of scientists and doctors.
Faced with the evil of disease, man must resist and fight. The Christian faith tells us not to lose heart, to keep hope alive and high, to trust in God who abandons and forgets no-one, to look to Jesus crucified, who wanted to suffer like us, and for us, to show us his love and give us a profound joy which enables us to give meaning also to our sufferings.
Jesus Christ identified himself in the man who suffers, suffering himself, to go further, to overcome evil and death. He is risen, he is alive. He is present with you and in you. Jesus is the good Samaritan who takes care of the tragedies of our humanity. He asks those who believe to do the same by making themselves close to those in need.
Every man who stops to attend to the suffering of another man, whatever that suffering may be, is a good Samaritan.
Every man sensitive to the suffering of others, and who is moved by the misfortune of his neighbour, is a good Samaritan.
A good Samaritan is, therefore, ultimately the one who brings help in suffering, of whatever nature it may be. Help, effective as far as possible.
A good Samaritan is not only someone who practices the profession of doctor and health worker, but he is each and every member of our Hospitaller Order.
From Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen a light emanates that can illuminate our intelligences and warm our hearts with a selfless love from which flows the willingness to share the pain of others, ignoring thoughts of personal gain, but offering our contribution selflessly, as many health workers and volunteers are doing on the occasion of this epidemic.
There is a long tradition among Christians of prayers to eradicate plagues or other infectious diseases and to take care of the sick, or of lepers, as with our Order.
The crisis provoked by the spread of the coronavirus can offer an opportunity to the members of our Order to bear witness to the solidarity, attention and genius that arise from an experience of faith convincingly embraced and lived.
I propose this Christian prayer to you in these times of the coronavirus.
Father of infinite mercy, lover of life, in the uncertainty of this time, full of darkness, we turn to you with the trust of your children, in this moment of concern and anguish for the spread of the virus in many countries of the world. Never before have we felt that we belong to a single human family, despite the fear of contagion infecting our social relationships, with the pursuit of individual interest at the expense of the common good.
Lord of infinite mercy, lover of men, face of the suffering and support of the sick; in this and at all times we invoke you: make Christians bold in love, beyond any narrow closure of the heart. In humility, please educate the rulers, enlighten the researchers, guard the health workers, preserve the healthy, help the infected, free us from all evil.
To you, Lord of infinite mercy, Trinity of love and compassion, from all the earth be glory and honour, forever and ever. Amen.
I greet you with affection and be assured of my remembrance of you all in prayer.

Atavis et Armis.

Monreale, 10 Marzo 2020
X Michele Pennisi
Arcivescovo di Monreale e Gran Priore Ecclesiastico MHOSLJ

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