[Province Belgique–France–Suisse] This word, spoken countless of times all over the world since the beginning of this year and experienced by just as many people, has caused physical, sociological, psychological, economical affliction as well as various adversities; its scope will unfold in succeeding months. However, it has also brought exceptional outpouring of generosity, both spiritually and corporally. For a brief moment, let us «turn the medal» (one of St. Vincent de Paul’s famous expressions) and dare to see «lockdown» with hearts filled with hope…
Health workers who served at the front lines of the battle were enthusiastically encouraged by people in numerous cities in France: every night at eight o’clock, applause, joyful noise and sounds from improvised instruments that resounded in entire streets expressed support and solidarity and showed appreciation for the medical workers’ professionalism and dedication. More concretely, food, meals, and gifts were brought to them ; care for their children was organized to ease the demands of their work.
We remembered those whose jobs proved to be essential for other’s survival: cashiers, bakers, garbage collectors… and they never stopped working.
Moments of relaxation were also organized to keep the morale. Indeed, living in an apartment or having a garden does not give the impression of a lockdown. Some have been creative, from balconies or rooftops, they animated games, sang popular tunes or played religious and secular songs written specially for the occasion that invited others to dance; a breath of fresh air before returning inside the four walls…
The vulnerable and isolated were given attention through the initiative of individual persons, associations, parishes, schools…: shopping, phone calls, letters, meals, contact with the social services; health workers, seminary students, and the youth volontarily confined themselves for several weeks to serve older persons in some institutions and to avoid infection.
Prisoners have not been forgotten: a toll-free number has made it possible to listen to them 24 hours a day.
The Diocese of Paris in collaboration with the City Hall of the capital and the participation of more than 500 volunteers distributed lunch packs for homeless persons, 7 days a week; more than 1,400 packed meals were prepared daily through the efforts of a renowned seconday school in Paris.
Many landlords deferred the payment of rentals of their tenants and even cancelled fees for the lease of commercial establishments…
But, «persons do not live on bread alone» !!! Churches remained open so that those who go out to buy basic necessities could make a short visit in the time allowed.
All the technical means of communication have been tapped to bring spiritual nourishment: the Eucharist that is live-streamed or broadcasted, all kinds of prayers: praise, Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, retreats… For the feast of the Annunciation (last March 25), candles were lighted and placed on windows and church bells rang all over France!
In the post-lockdown, will we continue to spread this creativity, this commitment, this zeal, this faith, this capacity to care for others ?