This is a letter that I never thought I would be writing and yet it seems important to do so. Here in Our Lady’s Island we were in the fortunate position of having a facility for the livestreaming of services available before the outbreak of the Corona virus. Each day, against the backdrop of the virus, we have been able to provide a reflection and to relay the Eucharist at 9.30am followed by Adoration until noon. While holding the Blessed Sacrament during Benediction I am always conscious of praying a blessing of protection for those near and far and in my mind’s eye to see rays of love extend from the Monstrance dispelling darkness and fear.
On Saturday 19th of April, while closing the door of the Sacristy, after Benediction, and not thinking of anything in particular, I heard what seemed like a whisper of Spirit that took me by surprise. What I sensed being said was; When are you going to say enough, and start exercising the power of faith that I have given you to overcome this virus in your midst; when are you going to stop being the victim, seeing yourself powerless against this unseen enemy. Let your faith be nourished by prayer and use that faith to overcome this challenge and prove victorious. Now is the time to unite in prayer and exercise your faith in a very real way. This test you have the power to turn into a testimony of faith.
What surprised me more than the words was the surge of faith that awakened in my heart where it felt that for the first time I could really begin to pray with the faith that can move mountains. This is the kind of faith that comes as pure gift and not the fruit of our own efforts at trying harder to believe. Throughout the day I pondered over the message and allowed the winds of doubt to come and blow it away should it not be a Word of Life. Still it persisted, and as the conviction grew stronger, I knew I had to do something about it.
One of my favourite passages, from the Book of Exodus chapter 14, came to mind where the People of Israel were cornered and left without any hope. Having just escaped from Egypt they were faced with the Red Sea in front and the Egyptian army closing from behind in hot pursuit. In their terror they looked to Moses who said: Israel, have no fear and stand firm, the enemy you see today you will never see again, the lord will do the fighting, you have only to be still and see the victory the Lord will do for you today. So Moses stretched out his rod, a symbol of faith, and the Red Sea parted allowing them to pass through dry-shod. The pursuing army got their chariot wheels stuck in the and the returning waters engulfed them.
My mind then recalled numerous battles in the Old Testament where, against insurmountable odds, the Israelites prevailed against the enemy. In each case they were given a strategy and as they followed that through it was ultimately their faith that proved victorious. It was never by their might or by their power but by the Spirit that they conquered.
Later that night a passage, that is also a Divine promise, from 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to mind: If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven their prayer, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
Finally the words of Jesus completed the picture: Whatever you ask for in faith, believe that you have already received, and it will be granted you. This captures the essence of praying in faith and not just with some vague hope that it might happen.
What exactly all the above means in practical terms I am not sure, but it seems right to put it out there; perhaps like planting a seed that can then take on a life of its own. It may develop into a strategy and help mobilize the a large body of people to pray, not just in hope that this virus will be overcome, but with the kind of faith that knows that it already has been conquered. In Hebrews 11 Faith is defined as; the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen. While it believes in what is not yet, its reward is to see that which has been believed. Faith is like the bird that sings while it is still dark because it has the assurance of the dawn.
Thank you for reading this letter and I invite you to reflect and see if it finds a resonance in your heart. You may like to discuss it with some others also. Give it prayerful consideration and if you wish to share with me the fruit of your prayer giving further direction please let me know by email on: firstname.lastname@example.org
While I have no idea as to what the next step of all this might be my sense is that some, and indeed all of you, hold the key. My conviction is that the more people unite in the exercise of faith, this virus can be overcome. Even if the several thousand who receive these daily Lights in the Darkness reflections via social media were to pray in the victory of faith it would make a huge difference in reversing this terrible situation that is affecting us all.
May the Spirit enliven our faith and guide us in the path of victory.