By Devin Watkins
The bells of every Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Chicago have been ringing 5 times a day for the many people affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
As of Wednesday, over 1,500 people had been infected and 16 had died in the US state of Illinois, with Chicago the state’s worst-hit city.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, told Vatican Radio that the bells were tolling for the sick (9am), healthcare workers (12am), first responders and essential workers (3pm), leaders and peoples of all countries (6pm), and those who have died from Covid-19 (9pm).
“We are looking for ways in which we can try and keep people together,” he said. One way is by live-streaming daily Mass for homebound Catholics.
Opportunity in social distancing
Perhaps the idea of “social distancing” will mark 2020. It has certainly had an effect on family life and the global economy.
With families around the world stuck at home, Cardinal Cupich said it is a time for them to think creatively “about how to negotiate all that time together.”
Despite the difficulties, it might even be an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the important things in life.
“We live in a very fast-paced society, and many times families see each other coming and going and don’t spend that much time together,” he said. “So this is going to be an opportunity for that kind of sharing to take place.”
Intimacy in distance
Cardinal Cupich considers the coronavirus emergency a time “in which the Lord is calling us to be healed.”
He said Jesus’ healing of the man born blind in last Sunday’s Gospel reading (Jn 9:1-41) shows us how the Lord draws near to us in our pain.
“He had a very strong act of intimacy with this man, healing his eyes through this anointing of them with the mud He made from His own spit.”
While we are currently unable to draw physically near to one another, Cardinal Cupich said we can “keep each other close to our hearts, and healing can take place when that happens.”
He said we need to use this time to “reclaim our common humanity so that we can begin to see that we are all in this together.”
Facing contagion of violence and racism
Once this coronavirus emergency is over, the Cardinal said we will hopefully be able to tackle the other diseases affecting humanity, like “the contagion of violence and vengeance in our streets, or the infection of racism and hatred in our world, and also the plague of poverty that afflicts so many people.”
Cardinal Cupich offered one more recommendation for the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“We would do well not to squander all that we’re going to learn in these days about our common humanity and vulnerability, but also how we are valued all in the same way by God. That, I think, is an agenda for going forward.”