In the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, I want to share what, like others, we are experiencing in this part of the world, Peru. I begin from my experience of feeling as though I were in a war:

Lockdown that disconcerts, loneliness that paralyzes, meeting with brothers… children, elderly, adults, women… people like us or like our families… experiencing need, living with hunger, almost out in the elements, because of the threat of eviction… unemployed, extreme vulnerability, all touched by suffering…

Every blow, hurt, is painful… we are witnesses of what we have never before seen… and it breaks our hearts to see little children searching through the garbage, “licking empty food packages…” which makes them weaker, lowers defenses, alters health… they are creatures of God, children of life, our children, wounding the emotional stability of their parents.. and also ours…

Surprise, silence, tears, a heavy heart… how are our hearts not broken… and how does this not hurt the soul and the body… it is panful to listen to wailing… it is weakening to experience powerlessness, anxiety, every labored breath. The lack of oxygen, beds, respirators; the contagion and/or the death of doctors, health care workers, police, soldiers, janitors, the vendors in the markets, the firefighters, the journalists, the teachers and priests of the neighborhood, Fr. Cristóbal and Fr. Juan Carlos… or death like that of Fr. Nicolas or of Brother Ari…

Around me there are entire families with the virus…mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors, students, alumni, teachers, pastoral agents, companions…who die, some quickly… others suffering terribly… how much helplessness, grief… we all understand because we are going through the same thing… God allows us to have the fundamental experience of Raphaela Mary, when she said, “I must keep in mind in all my actions that I am in this world as in a great temple, and I, as its priest, must offer continuous sacrifice and praise…” and this is a fitting moment to make all life a tender embrace that transmits joy, blessing, nourishment, life… and that it will be like a seal on the gaze and the smile of everyone.

I contemplate the earth as a sacred space, I look at the world, I listen to how it cries out, I see the violence of the storm that beats down and demolishes life like a tsunami, and reveals what has always been: the corruption at so many levels, the selfishness of some, the irresponsibility of others, many that do not cooperate with staying at home and social distancing, because they have to go out to work in order to eat… or because they go out to have a good time, defying danger… causing the waves of virus to spread out farther and farther. We don’t know what to do!

From our conviction of being “unworthy handmaids”, called… we stand up quickly, and although the suffering of our people affects us, from them and with them we are empowered with dignity because “the heart of a Handmaid cannot limit itself to a small number of people, all have cost the blood of a God”…and with that encouragement we continue going forth, we want to leave aside our own desires and interests… making a path, offering a gaze that repairs, encourages, heals, strengthens, gladdens… renewing commitments that generate desires that all know and love Him.. fostering among all those whom we meet on the way “peace and celebration”, communion, brotherhood.

The CONVICTION  to maintain fidelity in our daily going forth is in the Ignatian question:

Where, Lord, do you want to lead me?

Villa El Salvador, covid 19

Mela Vásquez, aci