Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (6)

Por José Antonio Michelena y Yarelis Rico Hernández

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when or how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals, to which we decided to add the opinion of some Catholics, including priests, religious, religious and young lay people, to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have used it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present and what they expect from the future , how you imagine it.


By Father Simon Azpiroz (Religious of the Hospital Order of St. John of God)

Father Simon, how have you lived these months of confinement? Did you make the most of it?

“I felt called as a man of faith to understand that quarantine was not only going to be a violent forced remedy, from which I saw only the negative sides, but could help me, albeit with undeniable effort, to turn the chronos into kairós, that is to say to turn time simply chronological into God’s time.

“I’ve really lived these months of lockdown like this, like a learning school. I’ve learned to know myself more. Community life has made me learn the art of coexistence, respect, prudence, sound tolerance, patience and humility.

“For me it has been an auspicious time, something like Spiritual Exercises. I’ve spent my hours working and delving into topics I used to spend little time on. In the Hostel where I live, there is a group of thirty-six internal residents (people with disabilities), another group, external, composed of thirty migrants, who in the end stayed in twenty, in addition to collaborators and Brothers in formation. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve been bored at any point. I also took the opportunity to communicate more by phone with my family and friends in Spain.”

Are there any conclusions you have made, in existential terms, that you want to share?

“We are going through moments of cross, of Passion, but in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery we know that after the cross comes the Resurrection. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not an impersonal force alien to our sufferings and misfortunes, but the close God and friend of man who approaches us and embraces us, even if we do not realize it immediately, even if silence, a harsh and dense silence, seems to be the most tangible truth. Pascal wrote that ‘the hands hold the soul’. Today we need hands – religious and lay hands – that sustain the soul of the world. And show that the rediscovery of the power of Hope is the first global prayer of the 21st century.

“I also want to share that it is possible to live and seize a time of misfortune on an opportunity for personal growth and self-know-how that will help us grow in humanity, as people of faith and trust in the one we know loves us.

“Life is more than the materiality necessary for survival. It’s also this, but it’s more than that. It means taking a contemplative attitude. We are challenged to have a look that goes beyond us, that jumps the limits of a defined life, that transcends the perimeter of our concerns, that is projected beyond what we cannot see on our own… because life is not only reduced to what we manage to do, but consists of the mysterious dialogue between what is now and what belongs to the order of the eternal.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, this time of isolation?

“We will come out of this more mature time of isolation if we know how to take advantage of it as a gift, as a moldable and open space, as a time to be. We will come out together and stronger from this experience, more resilient, more human, more fraternal, with the awareness of being part of a single human family, more supportive of each other, closer and more fraternal.

“In the midst of the emergency we are experiencing, we cannot forget the very high human witness that all who offer their assistance are giving. They are heroes of this collective story. And millions are those who, anonymously and with a sense of extraordinary selflessness, keep factories and offices open, continue to produce food and other essential goods, monitor safety and, of course, fight in the first line, for all of us, in hospitals.

“Some say that the generation that is living the whirlwind of this pandemic will inevitably look at life with different eyes. Let us hope that we can also keep in mind all the love stories that are being written, starting with the true multitude of professionals and volunteers who bring our current experience closer to the unforgettable parable of the Good Samaritan.”

How does the future post-pandemic live up?

“After the crown-virus that will be with us for a good while, we will have to face the hunger-virus, caused by the serious economic and social problems that the paralysis of the economy will produce in large sections of the world’s population.

“Like Pope Francis, I am concerned about how the day after the global health emergency will be based. There will be many socio-economic and cultural challenges in the post-pandemic future, guidelines will have to be proposed to address them and as the Pontiff says it will be necessary to foster a great citizen ‘movement’ that breaks with ‘fixed or outdated schemes, modalities or structures’ to rebuild society from ‘the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity’, in favor of ‘sustainable and integral development’ to protect humanity”.

Father Simon Azpíroz Iturri (OH)

Natural from Pamplona (Navarra), Spain. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Degree in Ecclesiastical Studies and Master’s Degree in Bioethics. As a hospital priest he has missioned in Spain, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba and currently ecuador. Cuba is the country where it has remained for the longest time (ten and a half years). According to her “it has been the place where I have felt full and realized, so I carry Cuba and its people in my heart”.

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