Use deserted city and isolation for spiritual profit, Patriarch Daniel urges

‘We are called to prayer, humility and repentance to transform ourselves, to change the way we think, speak and are, the way we act, live and work,’ Patriarch Daniel said during his homily on the fifth Sunday of Lent.

Speaking from the St George chapel of his patriarchal residence, the Patriarch of Romania referred to Saint Mary of Egypt, who lived for 47 years in the Jordanian desert. His Beatitude said that given the coronavirus outbreak, we have a context suitable for repentance.

“Unexpectedly, we see there is no need now to go into the desert because almost all the cities have become desolate by the fact that not so many people circulate any longer. There is no more traffic on the streets, no more crowds, because people are isolated in their houses.”

Illustrating today’s society, His Beatitude reminded the first verse of Jeremiah’s Lamentations: “How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!”

“It was there [deserted] because of the slavery of the Jews, but here it is because of another bondage: the fear of disease, the spread of this new virus, COVID-19, which produces a great deal of anxiety and fear, suffering and even death.”

The number of coronavirus cases in Romania climbed to the total of 3,864 on Sunday, the Strategic Communication Group said. There have been 148 deaths from COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

‘Today’s deserted or nearly deserted cities resemble the desert to which Mary of Egypt once withdrew. The near-empty churches because our beloved faithful no longer attend the services, all these urge us to be humble and to turn our isolation into spiritually profitable work.’

‘Let us transform the suffering of the disease in the hope of recovering from disease and all the shortcomings that this epidemic generates,’ the Romanian Patriarch said April 5.

“We can do this by multiplying prayer, filling our souls with the light of humble prayer and the light of good deeds and words, by helping our fellows.”

On Sunday, Patriarch Daniel’s assistant bishop Varlaam of Ploiesti blessed Bucharest to ward off the coronavirus, circling the city in a motorcade with the holy relics and icon of Saint Demetrios the New and reciting prayers.

Photography: Patriarch Daniel entering the National Cathedral before consecration in November 2018. © / Raluca Ene

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