"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Christ's Joy (DAY 28)

Christ In The Realm Of The Dead
by Joakim Skovgaard 1891-1894
IF THEN YOU WERE RAISED WITH CHRIST, SEEK WHAT IS ABOVE, WHERE CHRIST IS SEATED... NOT OF WHAT IS ON EARTH. FOR YOU HAVE DIED, AND YOUR LIFE IS HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD. WHEN CHRIST YOUR LIFE APPEARS, THEN YOU TOO WILL APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY. COL 3:1-3

Today is Day 28 of the whole community retreat in light of the lockdown.

Point Of Departure: Interview of Pope Francis on the Pandemic by Austin Ivereigh


"In an exclusive interview recorded for The Tablet – his first for a UK publication –Pope Francis says that this extraordinary Lent and Eastertide could be a moment of creativity and conversion for the Church, for the world, and for the whole of creation. I was curious to know if the Pope saw the crisis and the economic devastation it is wreaking as a chance for an ecological conversion, for reassessing priorities and lifestyles. I asked him concretely whether it was possible that we might see in the future an economy that – to use his words – was more 'human' and less 'liquid'."

Pope Francis: There is an expression in Spanish: “God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.” We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18 months ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods? I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses. 

We have a selective memory. I want to dwell on this point. I was amazed at the seventieth anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings, which was attended by people at the highest levels of culture and politics. It was one big celebration. It’s true that it marked the beginning of the end of dictatorship, but no one seemed to recall the 10,000 boys who remained on that beach. 

When I went to Redipuglia for the centenary of the First World War I saw a lovely monument and names on a stone, but that was it. I cried, thinking of Benedict XV’s phrase inutile strage (“senseless massacre”), and the same happened to me at Anzio on All Souls’ Day, thinking of all the North American soldiers buried there, each of whom had a family, and how any of them might have been me. 

At this time in Europe when we are beginning to hear populist speeches and witness political decisions of this selective kind it’s all too easy to remember Hitler’s speeches in 1933, which were not so different from some of the speeches of a few European politicians now. 

What comes to mind is another verse of Virgil’s: [forsan et haec olim] meminisse iubavit["perhaps one day it will be good to remember these things too”]. We need to recover our memory because memory will come to our aid. This is not humanity’s first plague; the others have become mere anecdotes. We need to remember our roots, our tradition which is packed full of memories. In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, the First Week, as well as the “Contemplation to Attain Love” in the Fourth Week, are completely taken up with remembering. It’s a conversion through remembrance. 

This crisis is affecting us all, rich and poor alike, and putting a spotlight on hypocrisy. I am worried by the hypocrisy of certain political personalities who speak of facing up to the crisis, of the problem of hunger in the world, but who in the meantime manufacture weapons. This is a time to be converted from this kind of functional hypocrisy. It’s a time for integrity. Either we are coherent with our beliefs or we lose everything. 

You ask me about conversion. Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity: the opportunity to move out from the danger. Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption (Laudato Si’, 191) and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.

Yes, I see early signs of an economy that is less liquid, more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were. This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back at this time. 

And speaking of contemplation, I’d like to dwell on one point. This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful. In Rome recently, in the midst of the quarantine, a policeman said to a man: “You can’t be on the street, go home.” The response was: “I have no home. I live in the street.” To discover such a large number of people who are on the margins ... And we don’t see them, because poverty is bashful. They are there but we don’t see them: they have become part of the landscape; they are things. 

St Teresa of Calcutta saw them, and had the courage to embark on a journey of conversion. To “see” the poor means to restore their humanity. They are not things, not garbage; they are people. We can’t settle for a welfare policy such as we have for rescued animals. We often treat the poor like rescued animals. We can’t settle for a partial welfare policy. 

I’m going to dare to offer some advice. This is the time to go to the underground. I’m thinking of Dostoyevsky’s short novel, Notes from the Underground. The employees of that prison hospital had become so inured they treated their poor prisoners like things. And seeing the way they treated one who had just died, the one on the bed alongside tells them: “Enough! He too had a mother!” We need to tell ourselves this often: that poor person had a mother who raised him lovingly. Later in life we don’t know what happened. But it helps to think of that love he once received through his mother’s hope.

We disempower the poor. We don’t give them the right to dream of their mothers. They don’t know what affection is; many live on drugs. And to see them can help us to discover the piety, the pietas, which points towards God and towards our neighbour.

Go down into the underground, and pass from the hyper-virtual, fleshless world to the suffering flesh of the poor. This is the conversion we have to undergo. And if we don’t start there, there will be no conversion.

I’m thinking at this time of the saints who live next door. They are heroes: doctors, volunteers, religious sisters, priests, shop workers – all performing their duty so that society can continue functioning. How many doctors and nurses have died! How many religious sisters have died! All serving ... What comes to my mind is something said by the tailor, in my view one of the characters with greatest integrity in The Betrothed. He says: “The Lord does not leave his miracles half-finished.” If we become aware of this miracle of the next-door saints, if we can follow their tracks, the miracle will end well, for the good of all. God doesn’t leave things halfway. We are the ones who do that. What we are living now is a place of metanoia (conversion), and we have the chance to begin. So let’s not let it slip from us, and let’s move ahead. 


Grace To Beg For: To ask for what I desire. To ask for what I desire, and here it will be to ask for joy with the risen Christ joyful. Or, to ask for joy with the Blessed Virgin joyful upon seeing the risen Christ joyful.

Word Of God: (See full text below)

1. Matthew 28:1–10 (He has been raised from the dead and is going before you to Galilee.)


Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. Even as Easter joy has come many whose lives continue as a never ending dark night. But even if so, Lord always comes in our weariness. He will come to his sheep where they are scattered when it is cloudy and dark. He is always with us. Try, even if it is slow to come, to pray asking for the grace of Christ's joy and dispose yourself to receive it.

2. On Easter Sunday celebration we as disciples of Christ are called in the waters of our baptism. What can you do to renew your calling? Hear Jesus' voice anew and follow His direction just like to Peter and his companions?

3. Make a contemplation through your imagination how Christ our Lord appeared to our Lady. Imagine the lodging or house of our Lady, looking in detail at all its parts, such as her room, oratory, etc. (SE 220) Here ask for joy with the Blessed Virgin joyful upon seeing the risen Christ joyful.


Prayer Requests:

You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIP) using 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are currently sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ



Matthew 28:1–10

He has been raised from the dead and is going before you to Galilee.


After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

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