Times of crisis can cause us to let go of the worries of our day to day bustle and cause us to think about the truly important things in life. Crisis times set at zero, the ordinary concerns of daily life. They invite us to ponder with proper awe the seriousness of the real mystery of life. Challenging times can deepen our faith and bring out the best in us.
Lately, Anne Frank and her family have often been in my thoughts. Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager who went into hiding during the Holocaust. Her family's happy, tranquil life, as well as the lives of all other German Jews, were derailed by circumstances beyond their control. Despite her enormous challenges, Anne's diary is amazingly optimistic. She is an inspiration for us now.
She said in her diary: "I still believe that people are really good at heart ... if I look into the heavens, I think that it will come out right and that peace and tranquility will return again." Thirteen-year-old Anne wrote this in her diary while she and her parents were hiding from the Nazis in World War II.
Was Anne's faith in the goodness of people merely an opinion? Or was it rooted in something deeper than mere logic? Anne expressed this belief in the face of horrifying events that drove others to despair. I can't help but ask myself - why? What was it about her that allowed her to find goodness and optimism in her challenges? She is a model for us as we too face a challenge beyond our control.
Pope Francis seems to have a similar optimist spirit. He sees his personal mission as welcoming people to the life and energy of the gospel as an antidote to the despair and cynicism of the world. As such, he has been welcomed by millions of men and women as a breath of fresh air.
He said recently, "We find ourselves afraid and lost. We were caught off-guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented ... all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other."
On a rainy evening, in front of an empty St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis offered a prayer of hope for Christians around the world battling to stop the virus and save lives. "May God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace, Lord, bless the world. Give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.”
Peace be with you!
Prayer: Repeat Pope Francis' prayer several times today.
Action: Offer a word of hope to someone you know who is really struggling.