A Very Special Lent
Update from the MSC General House in Rome, Italy
By Fr. Mike Miller, MSC
I thought I would give you an update about what is going on here in Rome with the CoVid-19 situation. Since I do not use Facebook, I am sending you this.
I am doing well here with the other 7 MSC in the General House. We have been on lockdown since March 10. It has become stricter since the March 14 weekend with the police checking papers on the roads. We do not go out.
Of the other 4 MSC who usually live here, two are stuck in Rio de Janeiro and one is in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. They too are now under lockdown. Who knows for how long? The original lockdown date in Italy is April 3, but there is talk of extending it, probably beyond Easter.
We are discovering that we have some men with fine culinary skills who are preparing some delicious meals, with other cultural flavors. It is really quite good. The Indonesians are going easy on the hot sauce, which they must have on everything. Not in my taste range at all!
We are all pitching in with the other house needs like cleaning, washing, etc. Fortunately, we have enough supplies like food, bottled water, and toilet paper.
Health-wise, we are well, trying to get some exercise, either in our small gymnasium or walking around our property compound. I have been feeling better since I started using our new Christmas gift gym equipment, elliptical bike, treadmill, and a weight machine.
We can pray Mass, Stations of the cross and daily prayers, etc. together, keeping our distance of course. We have enough hosts and altar wine. “We are praying for you, the families and victims of the diseases and all the health care workers, etc. who are on the front lines in this global fight. We are all well aware of the many difficulties that this is causing many people, in the USA and around the world, especially in the poorer countries that do not have the health infrastructure.” We pray for them all.
Since we still have WIFI connections, we can still get most of our office work done. So yes, we are working from home! We sent our employees home when the lockdown started.
We are fortunate to not be cramped up in an apartment like many of our neighbors. We have a big house and some grounds to walk around. I am sure you have heard already about all the cancellations and closings of almost everything, except grocery stores and pharmacies. The 24 hours stores are now restricted to around 8 am to 7:30 pm. People are allowed to go food shopping but with a one-meter separation. Fortunately, we have most of the food delivered by suppliers. People were allowed to individually exercise in the local parks, but recently they were closed as people would congregate there. Most people are respecting the social distancing and wearing masks and gloves where needed and when they have them. A heavy fine is handed out for those who are not at home without one of the three reasons: work, medical or health needs, or food shopping. One must carry a self-declaration of this to police when asked.
We are living in trying times now. “During this Lent, it helps us to put life in proper perspective. We all have to do our part in this sacrifice.” We know the situation here in Italy is serious and many are concerned, which we all should be, but at the same time we need to remain calm and levelheaded. You probably saw the high number of deaths here in Italy the last week, over 600+ a day. We pray for them and their families. This is mainly in the four provinces in the northern part of Italy. This occurred because people did not heed the warnings. If the whole world, literally, takes this seriously, we will recover sooner. If not, who knows? It seems that it goes in cycles. China is counting more cases again as people enter the country from outside. It seems to be another sign that we are all in it together to help save our planet.
God seems to be speaking to us all through this crisis. Let’s put our trust in the Lord and follow the experts’ advice, pray and do our part to live more simply.
I have been keeping up with what is happening in the USA through all the media. I know what all the major news feeds are saying, plus other sources here that are a bit more comprehensive.
The weather here has been beautiful, sunshine in the lower 60’s by day and 40’s at night. But today a northerly wind started blowing and temps have dropped. Tonight, the forecast is in the 30’s.
I was planning on vacation in the USA this summer, but whether I travel or not remains to be seen. I am not sure about whether it will be possible or not. That decision is farther down the road. So, we are all well here, hoping that this will end soon.
I wish you all the blessings of the Lord during Lent and the Easter season.
Greetings of Peace in the risen Lord Jesus Christ!
Fr. Mike, MSC