At this peculiar moment that we are all experiencing, the couple responsible for the Movement of the Teams of Our Lady, Clarita and Edgardo, addresses a few words to all the members of the Teams, through a letter that was sent to the leaders of the Supra Regions and Regions of the world, and that we share here.
Bogotá, March 18, 2020
Dear couples and spiritual counsellors of the International College of the Teams of Our Lady,
As the Responsible Couple for the movement of Teams of Our Lady, we would like to address a few words to you, in these moments of anxiety, inviting you to share a simple reflection that we have written from our hearts.
We have just returned from Paris, after having lived through some difficult days which we will share with you: It had been planned that yesterday we would begin our fifth meeting of the ERI in the city of Lomé in Togo. Between Thursday and Sunday, we had planned to attend a meeting of the ERI together with the Super Region of French-speaking Africa. As is the usual practice before each meeting of the ERI, we had planned to go to Paris with our secretaries, Paola and Giovanni Cecchini, to complete preparations of the meeting material, to carry out administrative work under our responsibility, and to hold meetings with affiliated movements, such as the Intercessors and the Association of Friends of Father Caffarel of which I, Edgardo, am president.
The first case of Coronavirus in the world was detected on November 17, 2019 in China, although it was only admitted by the Chinese government on December 8. In Europe, it was only at the end of January 2020 that the first cases began to be detected in Spain, Italy and France. At first, the disease was underestimated and only at the end of February, with increases in the number of cases in the Lombardy region and the first death, did all of Europe start to worry. Our trip to Europe was scheduled for 9th March and the day before, the Italian government issued a total closure of borders in Lombardy. So Paola and Giovanni had to cancel their trip. In spite of this inconvenience, we decided to continue with the meeting. The absence of Paola and Giovanni was joined by that of Dora and Joao, due to their work commitments in Portugal. They were warned that, if they travelled, they would be obliged to enter into quarantine on their return.
While we were in Paris, the worldwide reaction was unleashed with extreme measures in each country. This led us to cancel the ERI meeting and the meeting with SR Francophone Africa. Given the speed that conditions were changing around the world, we faced the real prospect of being stranded with a total closure of borders in France, and this eventually did happen. It was a very sad decision, and it was received with understanding but indescribable pain, by our colleagues in the ERI, Bernadette and Sylvestre, and those responsible for SR Francophone Africa, Roger and Emilia.
Today, the world has focused its attention on the growing development of the Coronavirus. In one way or another, all over the planet, there is a similar cycle being played out in three common stages:
- First, there is indifference and underestimation of the consequences, and unconsciousness of our responsibilities for managing the situation.
- Then, gradually, in the face of the increasing statistics of contagion, there is a transformation into a second stage of confusion, fear and the adoption of protective measures. Some of the measures have been valid but others have lacked any scientific rigor, only supported by a lack of information and the distortion of the social networks
- And the final stage is an acute awareness of the risks. This has required appropriate precautions for preservation of health, and more radical measures on the part of the governments that place significant obligations on the population. These measures are finally beginning to show their effects in slowing down the contagion.
In places that lived earliest with this scourge, that has already earned the title of Pandemic, it is clear that the sickness makes no distinction of race, economic power or geography. For this reason, it is clear that this challenge concerns everyone and has become a common and universal agenda.
Throughout this process some issues have become abundantly clear and without nuance: the arrogance of some of our leaders (fortunately not all), the improvisation and the fragility of our health systems, and the need to adopt universal measures that push aside inequality, advantage and imposition to take care our of common home. Balance and objectivity are finally beginning to prevail over individual interests. The learning curve has been accelerated by the experiences already lived in the first infected countries. The rest of us who are in the rearguard of the affliction, are now reacting with greater prudence.
Social networks have inundated us with information, but this is sometimes before we have the capacity to distinguish and filter the constructive and edifying information from the destructive and harmful. Without a doubt, we must give preference to information coming from official communication channels. We should not become the fuel that feeds collective panic, that leads to food shortages, and the collapse of health systems, through irrational fear and despair.
We cannot allow the situation to take control of our life. Instead, our life must take control of the situation.
Today the coronavirus has infected more than 170,000 people worldwide in more than 163 countries. Of these, 47% have recovered and 3.71% have died. By the most optimistic predictions, this pandemic will last at least six more months and won’t be under control before the month of June. Given this scenario, we already been asked whether the College in Warsaw, scheduled for 27th July to 1st August, will be held or suspended. It is still premature to determine this. In our hearts, we think that it can be done, but reason invites us to be prudent, and so we cannot give conclusive determinations. Our recommendation is to continue to work as if the College will go ahead, but to also take precautions by not buying any air tickets that cannot be modified. The international Colleges are the oxygen of animation in the movement. We cannot rush to cancel it, without carefully considering all the elements. If the College was in two months’ time, we would not hesitate to do so, but there are still more than four months to go. Time will undoubtedly bring us additional elements of judgment that we do not have today.
Dear friends, in these moments of uncertainty, we, couples and members of the Teams of Our Lady, are called to be differential elements in our environments. Without ignoring or disregarding the official measures that we are all called to take, we can be agents of change, bearers of hope, witnesses of faith and trust in the Lord.
Today, the leaders in our own regions have sent a message of hope to all the team members in our area, which we believe to be very appropriate. We would like to extract some suggestions, which could be applied to the universal environment of the movement in its own Super Regions and Regions directly led by the ERI:
- Remain calm, sensible, socially responsible and in solidarity at this time of global crisis.
- Take on the duty to stay in our houses and to go out only for reasons of EXTREME necessity. This applies to people of all ages, since we are all co-responsible for caring for the most vulnerable population who are at risk of severe complications that can even lead to death.
- Take advantage of this time at home, to intensify the practice of the Points of Endeavour, and in a special way, conjugal and personal prayer. We must entrust the whole world to the mercy of God, interceding for the recovery of the sick, for the protection of the medical and paramedical personnel who attend to this emergency, and for the conversion of sinners.
- Take the opportunity to have virtual meetings of Sector, Region, Super Region.
- Hold Team meetings virtually if possible, since leaving home at this time is counterproductive. There may be people how do not have any symptoms, but who carry the virus and who can transmit it to others, thus worsening the country’s public health situation.
- Suspend all scheduled activities (retreats, formation meetings, inter-teams events etc.) in each of the sectors/cities until further notice.
- For the Super Regional Responsible Couples, we recommend maintaining telephone or Skype contact with the Responsible Couples of their regions and support teams, to continue fulfilling the important mission of ANIMATING, LINKING AND ACCOMPANYING their respective Teams.
- Until the situation returns to normal, promote and maintain frequent communication between all members of each Team (married couples and counsellors).
- Promote initiatives so that your regional or sector leaders can call virtual meetings with each Team and/or with all the Responsible Couples in your sector, to pray together (Rosary, Chaplet of Mercy, listening and meditation on the Word, etc.) ). In other words, keep us united and in communion “praying together with each other and for each other”.
- Show to all the couples of your support teams and Provincials or Regionals, your permanent disposition to attend to them and support them in what they may need (advice, prayer, discernment, clarification of doubts etc.), through video calls.
- Take advantage of these days of recollection at home, to have a conjugal dialogue, to share valuable time with the family, to enjoy the opportunity to quieten the body, mind and spirit, to reflect on what is truly important for us, and to consider a rule of life that leads us to transcend and to be worthy of eternal life with our Father.
Dear friends, the work of the International Responsible Team does not stop. We have had a setback with the Lomé meeting, which we will not put aside, and we will try to reschedule if Roger and Emilia and Bernadette and Silvestre consider it so. The ERI meeting that was cancelled will be held virtually in several sessions, the first of which will be this Wednesday, using a communications tool called Google Meet. Our actual date and time of the meeting will be according to each ERI member’s time zone:
Paris – Bergamo: Wednesday 17 March – 21h00
Lisbon – Lomé: Wednesday 17 March – 20h00
Rio de Janeiro – Brasilia: Wednesday 17 March – 17h00
Bogotá: Wednesday March 17 – 15h00
Canberra: Thursday 18 March – 7:00 AM
We ask that each of you accompany us in spirit and prayer for the fruits of this meeting, and that together, we do not fail to redouble our prayer of intercession for one another, asking Our Mother Mary, and through the intercession of Father Caffarel, that the merciful Lord help us, encourage us, fill us with hope and save us in these moments of crisis.
So be it,
Clarita & Edgardo BERNAL | Couple Responsible International
| ERI – Equipe Responsable International
| site: equipes-notre-dame.com