What a Contrast!

by Jeanne Guillemette

MH Belgium

March 20, 2020

During this pandemic, we are keeping a normal house schedule as much as possible. Several of us watch daily Mass on the internet, especially Pope Francis’ Mass at Saint-Martha’s in Rome, where he too is confined.

We have Communion services on Sundays and feast days. We have prayed the Paraclisis, an Eastern Rite prayer service of supplication for the living, and for the feast of the Annunciation, we will pray the Acathist, a sung prayer service of praise to the Mother of God. Of course, we and so many others are praying for protection and an end to the pandemic.

Jocko d’Ursel has been preparing the garden for planting and pruning our apple trees. She planted garlic and is hoping to have an onion planting bee as soon as the soil dries out a little more. (We have had a phenomenal amount of rain this winter!)

What a contrast all this has been to our usual apostolate here! I have been in Belgium a little over 6 months now (It’s my fourth time here!). My impression is of a varied and active apostolate, with lots of people coming to pray, make poustinias, rest, or be immersed in our community life.

We are in a country setting, with a big garden, fruit trees, three chickens and two cats, and wonderful trails for walking or hiking.

We are involved in different movements like Together for Europe and the Yearly Prayer Breakfast at the European Parliament.

We have groups coming here for retreats (like three groups of high school students doing an “itinerant retreat” and spending the evening and night here, and a group of families from Colline de Penuel, who have an apostolate of poustinia).

Or we go to help out with retreats sometimes, like the Coeur du Père retreat, a weekend for inner healing for children. Jocko and Paul Moore even went to Rome in preparation for a conference for young entrepreneurs called “The Economy of Francesco.”

Priests come often on their days off, and our Monday Masses here are preceded by confessions which have become so popular that we rarely begin Mass on time.

But now all of this has changed. We are now quietly isolated in our house.

As a reconfigured team of 5 since the end of August, we are learning to move together in a new way, and hopefully growing in charity and unity.

How important is our fidelity to our Madonna House way of life in these days of crisis. May Our Lady, who revealed her Golden Heart (to a group of 5 children in 1933 in Beauraing, not too far from our house), intercede before her Son for us and for the whole world.