Teolock down: «Locked in with God». What the quarantine weeks taught us?

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TEOLOCK DOWN: «CLOSE INSIDE WITH GOD». WHAT THE QUARANTINE WEEKS TEACHED US?

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The Eucharistic fast to which we have been subjected in these two months, it is not so unusual for the history of the Church. Indeed, the monks, during Lent they used to fast from the Eucharist, and then live it to the full on Easter. Frequent and daily communion and that of children has entered our life of faith today, to which we are all used to: but originally and in the past it was not so, it was in fact the Holy Pontiff Pius X to introduce this frequency in recent times, to be exact in 1905 [St. Pius X, James Trent].

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Author:
Gabriele Giordano M. Scardocci, o.p.

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Apostolic Palace, Vatican City – Raffaello Sanzio: Release of San Pietro from prison.

During this epidemic a new English word has entered the spoken lexicon: Lockdown, translatable with isolation, confinement. The word contains the English verb inside Lock which precisely indicates the action of locking. It seems strange to us, yet we have been locked in for more than forty days: throughout history, battles for freedom have been waged, the liberation from the oppression of dictatorial regimes, to obtain the rights, so we thought that freedom of movement was now taken for granted. Instead we come to the last days of February, that is, just the beginning of this year 2020, and a fearsome and lethal virus forces us to stay at home. Many of us cannot go out, if not for the famous reasons we know. Otherwise we get a salty fine, salatissima. In more serious cases even, if conditions exist, you can really risk criminal censorship.

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There were several people than through video calls, classic phone calls, social network and more, they told me they felt they were in prison at their home. Although they continued their work during that period, increasing their presence with the family. There are also those who have tried to find manual jobs to do, over a bit of home sports, reading books and using them, today hyper-popular, of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other devices for watching movies. But the psychological condition felt was always that: feeling imprisoned.

If we think about it, there is another place, where you really are in prison: a prison cell. Think of the two prisons in Rome, Rebibbia and Regina Coeli. From here you can see how being forced into a place, has a re-educational value. So wrote Michael Foucault, on the subject of prison:

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«Only in his cell, the prisoner is placed in front of himself; in the silence of his passions and the world around him, he enters his consciousness, he questions her and feels the moral sentiment that never perishes entirely in the human heart awakens " [M. Foucault, Watch and punish, Giulio Einaudi Editore, Rome, 2013].

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In this sense, being locked in a cell helps a prisoner who has committed a crime to become aware of the injustice committed, and God willing, to repent. Loneliness, therefore, leads to reflection on one's life, the choices, what is being done and how to improve.

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I would now like to reflect in a slightly different way, compared to common feeling. Indeed, stay closed inside, it's exactly like a prison or captivity. Why Is That, unlike many other places, first of all we are asked to stay at home, which is custody for us, but also for others. Or as the virologist Roberto Burioni wrote, the measures of Lockdown, they saved at least the lives 40.000 people:

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«The crazy thing is that most of these deaths have been avoided in our country, where the epidemic hit hardest: quasi 40.000 our (more than 80.000 in the most optimistic estimates) who will still enjoy the finer things in life when this storm has passed. All thanks to the containment measures. […] This study, it also does justice to efforts (in many heroic cases) of those who changed their lives by being closed within four walls. Here: this behavior also saved, is saving lives. Staying home, each of you is doing it. Keep doing it. It is mainly thanks to this that you start to see a clear light at the bottom of the tunnel » [see, WHO].

Come to think, to have been locked inside, for many it was an opportunity, a moment not to be missed not only for the good that we can do to ourselves and to others. It is first of all a unique opportunity to be closed in with God. Being locked in with God means finding time to reflect on our faith. Being locked in is a theophanic and epiphanic event, where God meets and shows himself in a closed place: the closed place is not a prison, an isolation cell, but it is an opportunity for openness to the transcendent and the sacred. The closed place is wanted by God himself: God guards our home, our room, while we meet that place. The closed place in which we are inside helps us to build a true and personal relationship with God. Indeed if we take a look at the gospels, the experience of being locked in is by no means so terrible for the apostles. Let's take three particular examples, first of all the institution of the Eucharist in Mark and Luke:

«The first day of Unleavened Bread, when Easter was sacrificed, his disciples said to him: «Where do you want us to go to prepare for you to eat Easter?». Then he sent two of his disciples to tell them: "Go to the city and a man with a pitcher of water will meet you; Follow him 14 and where he enters, tell the landlord: Master says: Where is my room, so that I can eat Easter with my disciples? He will show you a large room with carpets upstairs, already ready; there prepare for us ». The disciples went and, entered the city, they found what he had said and prepared for Easter " [MC 14,12-17]

«The day of Unleavened bread came, in which the victim of Easter was to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John saying: «Go and prepare Easter for us, why can we eat ». They asked him: «Where do you want us to prepare it?». And he answered: «As soon as you enter the city, a man carrying a jug of water will meet you. Follow him into the house where he will enter and you will tell the landlord: Master tells you: Where is the room where I can eat Easter with my disciples? He will show you an upstairs room, large and decorated; prepared there ». They went and found everything as he had told them and prepared Easter. When it was time, he took his place at the table and the apostles with him [LC 22,7-14]

Luca and Marco's stories they have small distinctions in the descriptions they propose on the room in which they will celebrate Easter with Jesus. However, both descriptions agree that there is an upper hall, furnished and decorated, even with rugs. So we are sure that it is a closed place. The apostles in the passages of Mark and Luke are closed at home, and live the Jewish Passover. Then Jesus in the center of it, introduces foreign elements: therefore he institutes the Eucharist and the Priesthood [cf. GV 17]. Let's try to reflect, through the catechism of the Catholic Church on what the Eucharist is:

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"The Eucharist is therefore a sacrifice because it reappears (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is the memorial and because it applies the fruit » [n. 1366] «The way of the presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species is unique. It places the Eucharist above all the sacraments and makes it "almost the crowning of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments aim". In the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist it is "truly contained, Really, basically the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the soul and divinity, therefore, the whole Christ. “This presence is said” real” not by exclusion, the other types are not “royalty”, but par excellence, because it is substantial, and by which Christ, Godman, everything is present » [ n. 1374]

Having been locked in the house for two months, it also involved giving up on approaching Jesus the Eucharist and the Royal Presence. But He is really there, even if we don't receive the Holy Eucharist. Because the Real Presence of Jesus is also welcomed through spiritual communion, that we do even when we attend masses streaming, in moments of extraordinary emergency, that should never be confused with ordinariness. An account, in fact if, a sick person, watch Holy Mass on television, an account instead if, a healthy person, he does not go to Holy Mass because he believes he can fulfill the precept by watching it on television.

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The Eucharistic fast to which we have been subjected in these two months, it is not so unusual for the history of the Church. Indeed, the monks, during Lent they used to fast from the Eucharist, and then live it to the full on Easter. Frequent and daily communion and that of children has entered our life of faith today, to which we are all used to: but originally and in the past it was not so, it was in fact the Holy Pontiff Pius X to introduce this frequency in recent times, to be exact in 1905 [St. Pius X, James Trent].

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Here then, being locked inside, can help us in this. Rediscover the sense of Jesus who is real presence, communion with us even within our home. In these extraordinary cases, Jesus envelops us in his grace through spiritual communion, which is precisely to unite with him without accessing the Eucharistic species. It is a being closed inside inhabited then by the certainty of a deep communion: we can then reflect on this, in the time when we were locked in the house without being able to walk, or play sports or other places we love, what fruits we have collected? We left several houses, or as we were previously? Let's try to reflect and ask God to let us rediscover what the meaning of the Eucharist is for us, participation in mass and to take Holy Communion. Let us ask ourselves first: what does it mean in my life that Jesus is present there in a real way?

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A third episode it still concerns apostles and disciples, contained in the end of the Gospel of John: that we listened to on Sunday.

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«On the evening of that same day, the first after Saturday, while they were closed (class, to be closed inside) the doors of the place where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came, stopped between them and said: "Peace be with you!”. That said, he showed them his hands and side. And the disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord. Jesus said to them again: "Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, I also send you ". After saying this, he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit; to whom you forgive sins they will be forgiven and to whom you will not forgive them, they will remain unrepaired "» [John 20,19-23].

Giovanni's well-known commentator, Raymond Brown [R. And. Brown, John, Cittadella Editrice, 2014, 1305 – 1307] Commenting on this passage, he notes that disciples and apostles are closed in the house, all together, for fear of the Jewish authorities. Risen Jesus then appears, breaks through overcoming physical barriers: and above all by giving him peace. Later he decides to send them, exactly how the Father sent him, e a tal fine dona (insuffla) the Holy Spirit to the disciples. This is because the Holy Spirit, in his invisibility he accompanied Jesus in his public ministry to the Passion. Here then the disciples and apostles will continue the mandate of Jesus to transmit the truth received, administer the sacraments, to form and guide Christian communities (described in Acts).

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Stay it closed inside, then it is also an encounter with the Risen Jesus. And always with regard to the Resurrection, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

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«Risen Jesus establishes direct relationships with his disciples, through contact and sharing the meal. He invites them to recognize from what he is not a ghost, above all to ascertain that the resurrected body with which he presents himself to them is the same one that was tortured and crucified, because it still bears the signs of passion. This authentic and real body, however, possesses at the same time the new properties of a glorious body; it is no longer located in space and time, but he can make himself present in his own way where and when he wants because his humanity can no longer be retained on earth and now belongs only to the divine domain of the Father. For this reason too, the risen Jesus is sovereignly free to appear as he wishes: under the aspect of a gardener or "under another aspect" (MC 16,12) other than that which was familiar to the disciples, and this to arouse their faith [n. 645].

The Catechism stops to describe the true risen body of Jesus. In Catholic doctrine, especially in the field of eschatology we, starting from these songs, we are aware of the quality of the resurrected body that we too will have: that is to be true, glorioso, impassive, without limits. So inside the secret of the upper room, the disciples and apostles first of all also know the plan of God for all men: the resurrection of bodies and eternal life.

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Stay locked inside then it opens us up to an opening into eternity. Begin to think that we live in a state of already, but not yet: called to eternal life, to rise again in future life, but this life is built on our actions now. So we could have thought, in our two months of "imprisonment", while we are guarded by the Risen One. pandemic, has led to some human improvement? After this unexpected "lesson", we can truly say "nothing will be like before"? For us, Catholics faith indicates that they have a conversion look, to change our life and adhere even more to him within his Catholic Church. Happened, for many or perhaps for a few, something of this kind? Because there are many things that can happen in our spirit and in our soul, when we are closed in with God.

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If we have been closed with God, we can then allow everyone to draw on the Common Good, as a practical action. It is not enough to say, as we have heard and read in recent weeks, that "everything will be fine". Because “everything will be fine, if All it will be the good of God.

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The physical evil and health problems of Coronavirus, they are an evil that God can allow for man to obtain the greatest good. And, this greater good that tries to make us grasp it Lockdown, it is the common good: now in the social doctrine of the Church: the common good consists

"In the set of those conditions of social life that allow both communities and individual members, to reach one's perfection more fully and more quickly » [Social doctrine of the Church, 164].

As believers we are sacred people, unique and unrepeatable involved in a social and community system: no one man is an island, Thomas Merton would say. Here our stay at home has led to a community aspect and has given us the opportunity to favor the achievement of the common good, because as a social community: city, civil society, family we learn to improve ourselves not individually but in a community way. An example in this sense: staying at home, we have not spread the infection. In doing so, we have helped hospitals to free intensive care to hospitalize those in need. subsequently, after this experience, we will be able to strengthen our civic responsibility by submitting proposals to government leaders for the review of the entire national health system.

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As you can see, in being closed in with God you can really discover a lot about yourself and your faith, and the reading of captivity is really reductive. Little Anne Frank, forced into captivity to escape from the Nazis, he received a beautiful teaching from Otto Frank. Her father who told her:

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«Anne, will be difficult, lo so. But always remember this: there are no walls, born botole, nor bolts that will condition your thoughts ».

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Now, at the beginning of the so-called phase two, we will have to continue to be cautious; and remember that during this period of "imprisonment" there were no walls, born botole, nor latches, nor confinements that conditioned God's love for us. Now, in an emergency that is destined to last, we still don't know how much, it is our duty to increase love for God and neighbor, if these past few weeks, as I hope, they really taught us something.

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Rome, 20 May 2020

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2 thoughts on "Teolock down: «Locked in with God». What the quarantine weeks taught us?

  1. “On the evening of that same day, the first after Saturday, while the doors of the place where the disciples were staying were feared for fear of the Jews, Jesus came, stopped between them and said :Peace be with you! …….. as the Father sent me, I also send you ... " Jn. 20,19-21) And the fear first turned into joy, and then in uncontrollable outgoing testimony.

  2. Thanks for this writing, Father Gabriele! One of the best thoughts I have read about this quarantine period.

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