Updated: October 04, 2021 11:45 AM GMT
A Covid-19 patient rests in a parking lot turned into a coronavirus ward outside a hospital in Binan town, Laguna province, south of Manila. (Photo: AFP)
Against the obscure landscape of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Church has once again entered the month of the rosary. It is the second rosary month since the onset of the pandemic — a seemingly infinite plague.
A heart-warming consolation in these tough times, the Holy Rosary is, at no other time than now, being prayed by more and more Catholics the world over. After all, an integral part of the Catholic faith is the conviction that the fastest way to Jesus is through Mary.
According to Father Johann Roten, a world-renowned authority on the Mother of Jesus, the rose symbolizes the rosary with rosebuds that represent the Child Jesus. The half-bloomed blossoms characterize Christ’s passion, while fully bloomed flowers signify Christ’s triumph over death. Called the Mystical Rose, Mary is believed to have enjoyed the blessings that accompany the roses.
As the pandemic continues to claim the lives of millions, in exasperation, people ask: Until when shall we wait? Will this misery ever come to an end?
During this global catastrophe, we see on the one hand the best of people, especially of health workers who, despite the risks, are giving the utmost sacrifice of their lives trying to save precious lives. Hurdling the difficult test of adherence to the Hippocratic oath is unprecedented. On the other hand, we sadly see the worst in people, especially the human rights violators who ironically allow themselves to be instruments of violence and death at this time when saving lives is of paramount value.
Of the essence in these uncertain times are virtues of faith, hope and charity — virtues which are easier said than internalized and practiced. The mysteries of the Holy Rosary manifest such virtues.
Not only do we need an immunity to the virus but also an immunity to the fear of death
At the start of October, I was faced with sad news about a friend who, due to the failure of her heart and lungs, chose not be intubated anymore. She succumbed to Covid-19. In a fleeting video a few hours before death, she poignantly bade adieu to her loved ones. Swinging between hope and despair, her doctor assured her family members that on their behalf he would hold the patient’s hand until her last breath.
Watching the video, anyone cannot but feel fearful of the not-so-remote possibility of experiencing the same fate. Not only do we need an immunity to the virus but also an immunity to the fear of death.
As the pandemic continues to victimize the whole of humanity, faith in God is a powerful weapon for believers. In this predominantly Catholic nation, people commemorate the month of the rosary in creative ways. During the pandemic, the rosary serves as a source of hope and solace for families. We can only be grateful that this pandemic brings family members together to pray. These prayers were not always possible during normal times.
In our times, the mysteries of the rosary are a reflection of the people’s day-to-day lives. More pronounced in this global crisis is the sorrowful mystery. Just like in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed on the eve of his death, people kneel in supplication, pleading for light to illumine the path in this long and dark night of illness, death and misery, and where responses of many governments to their people’s woes are found wanting.
Like Jesus being lashed in the scourging at the pillar, the Filipino people are victimized by pandemic-related human rights violations in the form of arrests, torture, killings, enforced disappearances and detention, exacerbated by dire poverty, joblessness, malnutrition and natural disasters. These are analogous to the thorns, which represent the excruciating pain of the people.
A virtue that springs eternal, hope for the nation’s eventual healing keeps the faithful together. In one of his prayers for the healing of the nation, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, expressed his faith: “We believe, through little prayers; whether through tears or words or in songs, the voice of the Filipino people will reach God through Jesus. And also through Jesus, weeping becomes a song of light and hope.”
The faithful believe that praying the rosary shall eventually shed light on the mysteries surrounding the pandemic. As Oratio Imperata expresses: “We pray that you guide the people tasked to find cures for this disease and to stem its transmission.” Answering the difficult question on why God has allowed humanity to suffer through this pandemic will hopefully be realized from the inspiration of the luminous mysteries.
What is in store for the country? In a few months’ time, the Philippines will hold its national elections. This is an opportune time for the electorate to chart the destiny of a country whose 500 years of Christianity it is commemorating this year, yet whose history is marred by corruption, violence and untold violations of the right to life.
Definitely, a genuine voters’ education, with a historical perspective elucidating the vicious cycle of vote buying, vote selling, political dynasties and corruption, will go a long way toward empowering the people in making a difference to their country’s future.
Realistically, though, the expressions of the joyful and glorious mysteries in the Philippines are translucent or, worse still, opaque
Especially during the month of the rosary, a collective national prayer for clean, orderly and honest elections whose results will bring about genuine public servants that the people deserve will give confidence for a better future. The luminous mysteries will light the path to the desired change in the country’s governance.
Counting the blessings of solidarity through building community pantries, feeding the hungry, giving drinks to the thirsty, giving sanctuary to the sick and other corporal as well as spiritual works of mercy, is a manifestation of our sense of gratitude.
Realistically, though, the expressions of the joyful and glorious mysteries in the Philippines are translucent or, worse still, opaque. People are jobless. They have no food on the table. The sick are not provided basic health care. Human rights are trampled upon. Cases of infections of the virus continue to rise. Instead of responding to the citizens’ needs, the government prioritizes its perpetuation in power.
Believing in the eventual realization of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the predominantly Christian and Catholic Filipinos should take cognizance of the reality that losing hope and wavering faith in these uncertain times is a blunder that we cannot afford to commit.
Together, let us witness the full blossoming of the roses in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
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