By Massimiliano Menichetti
"Thank you for bringing Christ into every home" – "Thank you for helping and supporting us" – "Thank you for the message of hope" – "Thank you for the spiritual Communion" – "Let us pray for an end to the pandemic, for everyone, for you, Holy Father" – "Thank you for the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, it made us feel good" – "Thank you for not leaving us alone" – "I had no faith and now I cry before the Crucifix".
From the 5 continents: personal messages, messages of gratitude, prayers, photos, and even videos. Images and words tell the Pope about what has happened in every part of the world as he raised the Blessed Sacrament to bless the world each morning, imploring the intercession of the Lord to defeat the pandemic.
Space for prayer
Everything began on Monday, March 9. Pope Francis prayed for "the sick, for those affected by the coronavirus, for doctors, nurses, volunteers who help so much, for family members, for the elderly who are in care homes, for prisoners who are in prison.”
For seventy days, as the virus spread and many countries were forced to suspend liturgical celebrations with the presence of the faithful, as well as retreats and pilgrimages, the Pope brought us hope and salvation in the concreteness of the Gospel, of the Word of God.
Morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta was simple, as the Bishop of Rome reflected briefly and simply on the Readings of the day, helping everyone to identify with what was recounted and witnessed in the day's readings. There were spaces for silent prayer. There were a few minutes of Eucharistic adoration at the conclusion of the celebration.
Near during the lockdown
Millions of people gathered in prayer each day – their geographic location and the time difference from Rome were not a problem. Radio, TV, internet, and social networks became doors and bridges to the small Vatican chapel. Entire communities, families, workers, children, adults, even men and women religious followed the Mass, listened to the Word, prayed, and rediscovered spiritual communion, while waiting to be able to physically receive the Body of Christ once again.
Pope Francis’s morning Mass also became an appointment for those who rarely attend Church, or not at all. Many non-believers tuned in to follow the homilies of the Successor of Peter during the global lockdown.
Countless Mass participants
An incalculable – though certainly very high – number of faithful around the world faced the pandemic accompanied by the Pope, who often exhorted us not to forget "those who are most in need, the hungry, children, and those who flee from war".
Pope Francis prayed for the leaders who "must decide" and for the scientists seeking solutions in this difficult time. He always thanked all those who help others, especially the weakest and most helpless, such as the elderly and disabled, in "these days of so much suffering" and "fear".
He prayed for the men and women religious who "give their lives", as they remain close to those who are in pain and trial. He prayed for all the victims of the pandemic and their families. He recalled many categories of workers: from doctors to nurses, from pharmacists to teachers, from cleaners to volunteers, to those assisting in the burial of the many who have died.
He prayed for expectant mothers, and for their concerns; for artists, for students, for those thinking about the post-pandemic and how to solve the problems that await us.
End of an era
The live broadcast of the daily Mass ended on Monday, 18 May.
Pope Francis has expressed his hope "that the People of God can return to communal familiarity with the Lord in the Sacraments, participate in the Sunday liturgy, and resume – also in their churches – the daily frequentation of the Lord and His Word".