Ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic we have been plunged into a real worldwide crisis. There is still no vaccine available, and we will, no doubt, continue to suﬀer the economic and social consequences of this crisis for a long time. But humankind has an astonishing capacity to cope with the most diﬀicult situations – as long as we do so with the conviction that it all has a meaning. For if everything was ultimately meaningless, why would anyone care if the weak, the sick and the elderly happened to die of some virus, somewhere or other on our small planet? But what meaning can we oﬀer in the face of this virus and the massive death toll resulting from it?
Real meaning does shine through, if only in the tremendous solidarity and determination with which people are generally observing the public safeguarding measures, caring for the frail and elderly, supporting our health-care workers and keeping in contact with family and friends. Yet the longer the emergency situation lasts and we are exposed to its eﬀects, the deeper we must search to find the real underlying meaning. Times of crisis reveal the true face of humanity, charity or the lack of it, makes people saints or scoundrels.
Our charity, Aid to the Church in Need, also arose during an international emergency situation. After the Second World War, which claimed over 50 million lives and left many countries utterly ruined economically, Father Werenfried found the courage to call people to heroic charity – towards their neighbours and former enemies. He dared to demand great sacrifices of them, in the conviction that “people are better than we think”. He spoke of the “suﬀerings of Christ”, who took upon himself our sicknesses and suﬀering and who still continues to suﬀer his redeeming Passion in the poor, the persecuted and the refugees. In his famous Christmas 1947 article “No room at the Inn,” which marked the birth of ACN, Father Werenfried warned us against hardness of heart:
“Can you imagine what it was like during the war…? How the friendly oﬀice worker and the small shopkeeper suddenly turned into wild beasts? How every kind of decency and courteous feelings disappeared, and people fought recklessly, each for himself alone? Every man for himself! … Many of us are warm and comfortable; our lives are going well … and despite the post-war shortages of food and everything else, despite the soaring prices, we actually do not lack much. But do we ever stop to think that it is Christ who is weeping in all those whom he has called ‘the least of his little ones’ and beneath whose misery his divine and human countenance is concealed?” Dear Friends, despite everything, and with the same faith that characterised the beginnings of our charity, we dare to turn to you once again and ask your help for all those who were already suﬀering, even before the coronavirus struck. The pandemic has made their situation even worse. Let us also find a little room for them in our hearts!
With my grateful thanks and my blessing on you all,
Father Martin Maria Barta Ecclesiastical Assistant.
Featured Image: Fr Martin Barta. Photographer: Bruno Barata
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