Mary is a model for WUCWO
especially during this crisis.
Mary is the model of a resilient woman. Who else had the capacity to face the crisis of the Passion and Death of her Son? Who else could overcome the change that meant taking Christians as "sons" from the Resurrection? “The Church is a woman,” Pope Francis repeatedly tells us. In the context of the globalisation of the Coronavirus, Mary, the resilient woman par excellence, is the model who teaches us what steps to take on the path to holiness, particularly to those of us who have a responsibility for leadership in the Church, as is the case with each of the women in WUCWO.
Under Mary's “wing,” the early ecclesial community, uncertain and fearful due to the traumatic event it had suffered, waited in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Mary led the apostles with her example and generated a resilient atmosphere, where faith, hope and love opened wide the minds and hearts of those who were “in quarantine” within the Cenacle. In this way, “infected” by Mary's experience of resilience, the women present and the first bishops received the tongues of fire.
Women of WUCWO: hand in hand with Mary in this month of May, we have a special mission of leadership in our daily lives, making decisions every day and introducing changes which, if we have reflected and discerned deeply the challenges that this emergency imposes on us, will be positive proposals that will affect not only the present but also the future. In our families, called to be house churches, in our work teams that may now go on working from home, in our WhatsApp or similar groups, in our organisations, whose meetings and relationships are likely to be held and maintained online: let us build resilience in the face of crisis. The resilient leader is the woman who radiates hope in stormy times.
To assume this mission of raising resilient families, with children, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters, personal and community prayer is key. Let us update the sense of a small “domestic sanctuary” in our homes. For example, let us choose a place, an appropriate corner, where we can put an open Bible with the Gospel of the day to have easy access to the Word of God. A religious image, a candle, a picture of the family, can also help. Perhaps at different times of the day, those of us who are living together can stop and be silent to “talk about friendship with the One we know loves us” or simply renew our “desire for God” as we walk by.
I must confess that, in order to write this message, I studied which countries had best dealt with the virus. I found that Norway, Taiwan, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, Finland and New Zealand stand out; they have different geographical location, climate, culture, beliefs, language... but there is something very important that they have in common: they are led by a woman. The measures taken by the women leaders are very diverse, but appropriate for their respective countries. This tragedy has shown that it is time for female leadership: with resilience, with the lucid and creative eye of the heart, with courage, with care and with love.
To be resilient leaders today, like Mary, requires us also to intercede for the whole world. The Pope has written us a letter so that in May - a Marian month in the northern hemisphere - "in the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety,” we will rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home. He suggests that we add one of the two attached prayers (see below). Can we assure him that he can count on us for this powerful intercession? Will we unite under our “wing” all those who need company, joy, care, strength, discernment and so many other gifts that the Holy Spirit wishes to bring us on May 30th, at Pentecost?
Last but not least, this May 2020, on WUCWO Day, we will start the celebrations of our 110th anniversary (1910-2020), in the company of the founders and pioneers, of Pilar Bellosillo, WUCWO President (1961-1974), whose cause of canonisation we have initiated, and of so many other leaders who came before us. I invite you to do so together in a solidary and synodal event. As an addition to the respective celebrations for this year’s WUCWO Day that each organisation wishes to hold, we will have a "virtual cenacle" in each of our languages.
In our “virtual cenacle” - which will be a room in the Zoom platform - we will pray under “the wing” of Mary the prayer prepared for this year by the Latin America and Caribbean Region, that was sent out to you in due time and that will be integrated with your intentions. In addition, we will share a brief historical review of WUCWO, with a special emphasis on Pilar's journey, and some testimonies (no more than 30 seconds each) from those who will participate, exclusively on the topic: What does WUCWO mean to me?
In this way, we will join the “Prayer for Humanity,” promoted by the Holy See through the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. We will raise our plea for humanity, to overcome the pandemic and restore security, stability, health and development to our world. Each virtual meeting, whether in English, French or Spanish, will have a maximum of 500 participants. These meetings will be held on the days around the WUCWO Day. We will send you the dates and times soon, as well as the link for each language, as prior registration is required to participate.
Those who cannot participate live, due to a very different time zone or other reasons, will find all the material on our website. It is our wish that no one will be left out of this significant WUCWO anniversary, celebrated in a style of solidarity and synodality (you could find the theme explained by our Ecclesiastical Assistant, Father Gerard Whelan, SJ, during the recent Webinar in English, at www.wucwo.org, in the section “Formation”). I therefore urge you to circulate this message and to encourage the participation of your members and their families.
In the midst of this planetary crossroads, may Mary, mother and teacher of resilience, gather and shelter us as she did with the first Christian community awaiting the Holy Spirit, to begin our 110th anniversary together, bearing fruit, in our modest measure, of a new WUCWO Pentecost!
Please receive my warm regards, hoping to see you soon,
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions in our necessities,but deliver us always
from every danger, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.