“Our nearness to one another” – A Message from the Master of the Order, Fr. Gerard Timoner OP
To the Angelicum Community from Fr. Gerard Timoner OP, Master of the Order & Grand Chancellor (making a SPIRITUAL COMMUNION: http://bit.ly/SpiritualCommunionAngelicum )
Posted by Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – Angelicum on Saturday, March 14, 2020
Message to Students of Angelicum during the Quarantine
Dear Brothers and Sisters, especially our students at the Angelicum here in Rome.
Our brother Benedict Croell asked me to do this video message for you. I hesitated at first but then I thought he is right. Let this simple message be a gesture of our nearness to one another at this time when common good requires “social distancing.” Paradoxical as it may seem, to keep distance from one another, at this time, means we truly care for each other. In this time of quarantena en quaresima, we are invited to pause and ponder the nearness of God to us. When public worship is suspended for the well-being of worshippers, we become keenly aware of the importance of spiritual communion. Jesus remains near to us even as we hunger for the Bread of Life. We have brothers and sisters in remote places who can attend the Eucharistic celebration only once or twice a year. Now we understand, in an experiential way, their hunger for the Eucharist and their longing for ministers.
Let me recall what we know deep within our hearts. If we want to spread the Gospel, we must be with the people, we must be near, we must be close to them! A virtual encounter, like what I am trying to do now, cannot replace a personal encounter. We must cross cultural, linguistic, even ideological boundaries to spread the Word of God. Conversely, if we want to arrest the spread of something bad like the corona virus, we must keep distance, we must refrain from personal encounter. Any proximate encounter has the potential to spread the contagion.
The current pandemic clearly shows that for something to circulate, personal closeness and encounter is necessary. After this pandemic is over, let us not forget the lesson: if we want the Gospel to circulate in our secularized world, the same personal closeness and encounter is necessary. I hope that your studies at the Angelicum would profoundly contaminate you with the Good News. Just as an airport could sadly be a hub for the spread of a virus, may Angelicum be like an airport, a hub, a place where students from all over the world deepen their knowledge and faith so that they may positively infect everyone with the contaminating joy of the Gospel.
We continue to pray for the sick and those who care for them. Even in our solitude, God is close to us, and we are never alone for we all belong to the Body of Christ.