During the pandemic, when we were almost completely in cloistered seclusion at the convent, going out only for the most urgent doctor’s appointments or essential shopping, our lives continued with the daily rhythm of prayer, meals, communal time, and work. Some ministries continued online. And, we were praying without ceasing for so many people out in the world.
All these prayers were added to our usual prayers for regular life concerns and for the state of our sisters, our neighbors, and the world. This was a heavy load of prayer. The more I prayed, the more I needed a solid source of spiritual comfort.
Many years ago, when I was a hospice chaplain, I made a first visit with a new patient who was Jewish. This was a Roman Catholic hospital, so when a room was made ready for a new patient, the staff always hung a crucifix on the wall at the foot of the bed where it was clearly visible to anyone in the bed. We were instructed during the first visit to ask if the patient wanted the crucifix, or a plain cross, or whether they wanted us to take it down.
I assumed this Jewish patient would ask me to take it down, but instead he said, “No, leave it up, I can use all the help I can get!” Then he thought for a minute and pointed at the crucifix and added with emphasis, “He knows. He knows what I’m going through.”
During the pandemic, Jesus became my most reliable source of strength and comfort because he is always available to me and because he lived a human life with all its joys and suffering. In times of difficulty, he knows what we are going through. I continue to need his solid reassurance and find that he is indeed always present, understanding, and providing the spiritual strength I need to carry on.
–Sr. Ellen Francis, OSH
What has changed over time in your relationship with Jesus? How are you preparing for the coming of the Christ child this Advent?