Crisis Times are Holy—Part 1

by Elizabeth Bassarear, Larry Klein, and Fr. David Linder, directors general of MH

The following is excerpted and adapted from two letters written to the Madonna House staff during the early days of the coronavirus crisis.


March 29, 2020

A great sadness has come upon our world. We are being separated from the past, from those we love, and from our day-to-day realities.

Those who are anxious have increased anxiety, the paranoid are more paranoid, and those who thrive on division are using this crisis to increase division.

There is a very real unity among us at Madonna House about this current crisis and about all the decisions we have had to make and all the things we have had to do to isolate and protect ourselves, especially our infirm and elderly members who are so vulnerable. Yet, so far, we are all safe, and we have what we need.

We remain so acutely aware of the extremely difficult circumstances in which so many of you and of our families and friends and those throughout the world are finding themselves, whether financially or with health concerns and other serious crises.

We think of those who already live without basic hygiene, of those on lockdown who do not have the daily earnings to buy bread, of those who are unable to get home, and of so many others.

In our diocese, as in many of yours, there is no longer any church open even for prayer. This is a loss and a grief for many.

Some of us are following the news more than others. Amidst much controversy, no one knows what will unfold in the coming weeks.

Here at Madonna House, in responding to this crisis, have we made wise decisions? Have we done too much or too little? What do we yet need to consider in days ahead?

We are grateful for your prayers and are trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead us at each moment.

Like many of you, many of us have family and friends for whom we are deeply concerned. Some have elderly parents. Some of us have health conditions for which we might not be able to receive ongoing treatment, such as one staff whose “elective” but needed surgical procedure was canceled. Some might be overwhelmed with too much work and others with sudden lack of same.

Each one of us here is being given a share in Christ’s pain. This is a personal gift from the Savior himself. More than ever, all of us need to pray to know the secret of the cross.

There seems little question that the long-term impact of the virus will be tumultuous both on our personal lives and that of our families and local communities, both in the health sector and economically, as well as socially. What might that look like? We can’t know.

In the midst of these challenges, we see blessings. Many begin to see the value of those who stock the grocery store shelves, who drive the trucks, wash and clean our hospital rooms and, of course, the medical people working long and difficult hours.

Some who are not working are suffering from boredom and loneliness and are facing the challenges of living together in small quarters and filling the suddenly empty hours.

Do not be surprised if you see in your hearts things that surprise you and which you are sorry to see. Intensity and stress, with little relief, brings its own surprising blessings. (Smile!) How difficult it is to see and to accept our own inner poverty and sinfulness, but grace abounds for all of us.

This is a time to be kind to one another, to forgive readily, to trust in God and to keep returning to the sacrament of the present moment, the duty of the moment.

The local director of one of our houses wrote recently, “Vulnerable times are holy times, and that is when the Lord does his best work. This is true both in the lives of those who don’t know Him and are truly terrified right now, and for us who can lean on Him for all of our needs.”

Returning to the theme of the Cross mentioned above, Pope Francis said in his address yesterday,

“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved.

We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed.

We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced.

So nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.”