by Ken Rolheiser
COVID-19, prayer, and St Joseph

Is it right that we close churches and keep faithful from penance, instruction and worship they experience there? Should we be closing miraculous healing places like Lourdes during the COVID-19 outbreak? The church through the ages has brought healing and medicine, especially during times of plague and sickness.

 A model of service to the sick, St. Marianne Cope (1838-1918), answered the call of the king of Hawaii to bring her Sisters to Hawaii and serve the lepers alongside St. Damien of Molokai. Marianne assured her Sisters that not one of them would contract the deadly disease. The Sisters worked with the lepers of Molokai for nearly a century without one of them contracting the terrible disease.

We have closed the schools where prayer was banned, and we are subjected to the whims of the faithless, like the Mayor of Indiana who has replaced “Good Friday” with “Spring Holiday” on the calendar. Is it not time to turn back to God in penance and seek God’s forgiveness and comforting peace? 

A good start when facing a contagious virus, pandemic or plague is to invoke the help of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints. Also helpful is knowing which Saint has a vested interest in the particular malady. 

As Canadians we are more familiar with St Andre of Quebec who brought about many miracles with his intercessory prayers to St Joseph, who happens to be the patron saint of Canada. I have seen the crutches piled up in St Joseph’s Oratory. Wikipedia reports: “When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, [St]André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. 

Let me share just a couple of examples of St Joseph’s intervention in time of plague. A Mr. Augery implored St Joseph to help his young son when the surgeons had given him up for dead. They were carrying the boy to the pest-house only to find him cured when they arrived. Nine other members of the family were saved from the plague as well. 

Tevenet, a good old man from a village near Lyons, infected with the plague, asked the vicar of the place whether there were any means for his recovery. The vicar answered him that there were none but by having recourse to St. Joseph, and by making a vow every year to keep his feast … The pious old man immediately made the vow, and at the same time found himself freed from the plague. 

There are stories of Mary’s apparitions in Vicenza, Italy and her interventions during the plagues of the fifteenth century. When the construction of a shrine began the plague almost immediately stopped. Today the shrine of the Madonna of Monte Berico is visited by thousands. 

As to what we should do to combat today’s COVID-19, we need to follow the suggested guidelines to help reduce the spread of virus. In addition we need to be a voice of reason to stop panic and offer assistance to those most vulnerable.

Finally, we need to PRAY. We are in God’s hands and God wants only the best for us and our loved ones. Times of crisis can bring us closer to the arms of our loving God.

Join the many who have started intercessory prayers to end the scourge of this disease. The Rosary is a formidable weapon since our Mother Mary wants desperately to help us. Jesus longs for our embrace as well.

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