A crying cardinal at St. Peter’s becomes a symbol for the Church suffering
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April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – At the height of Italy’s coronavirus crisis, on April 3, during the daily rosary at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Cardinal Angelo Comastri repeatedly displayed deep emotion, with a breaking voice calling upon the Blessed Mother to help the world in times of distress. He will be remembered as an icon of the suffering of the Catholic Church in Italy, but also in the entire world. And he should inspire us to imitate him and to call upon the Blessed Mother in the rosary to help us.
Cardinal Comastri is the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. As such he presided over the daily rosary at noon at St. Peter’s from the start of Italy’s shutdown up to Holy Week, which has been live streamed by Vatican News. Thus, he has been providing a continuous presence of a cardinal of the Catholic Church calling upon Heaven's help, but also reminding us of the importance of praying the rosary in times of distress.
As of April 6, the daily rosary is now being presided over by Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin in Loreto.
On April 3, Comastri’s voice repeatedly broke when praying the rosary and asking the Blessed Mother for help (below is the full video, especially minutes 27 and 37). The sorrow of this prelate at the height of Italy's corona crisis (which seems now to be slowing down) is palpable.
The German Rome Correspondent and professor of philosophy, Armin Schwibach, commented on the symbolic cry from the heart as displayed by Cardinal Comastri: “At this moment, Cardinal Comastri is our great rampart.”
He calls to the Blessed Mother, with a crying voice, to come to our assistance, just as Our Lady of Fatima asked us to do.
As it turns out, only a few bishops worldwide seem to make it an important aspect of their response to the coronavirus crisis to encourage Catholics in their families to pray the daily rosary, as it has been done throughout centuries.
An inquiry among the faithful via Twitter has brought forth a few, but encouraging examples of bishops who expressly call upon the faithful to pray the rosary daily.
Most prominently, Cardinal Raymond Burke is recommending in his spiritual guide the praying of the daily rosary. In his own guide as to how to respond to the corona-crisis, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, too, recommends the daily rosary.
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, when consecrating Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, prayed one decade of the rosary in public; Bishop Wiliam Wack of Florida is recommending on his diocesan website to pray the rosary; Bishop Joseph Strickland does the same. English Bishop Mark Davies live-streamed his praying of the rosary in his cathedral at Shrewsbury, as did English Bishop Patrick McKinney in Nottingham. This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that there are many bishops who have not taken this step.
Yet, it is the Blessed Mother to whom we have to turn now, asking her to bring us close to her Son.
The Italian Church historian, Professor Roberto de Mattei, explains in a new article the important role of Our Lady in this time of trial. We shall end this short reflection with his words. First, de Mattei points to Mary:
In the hour of spiritual emptiness, the souls of those who have faith, turn instinctively to the One, Who is never empty, since She is filled with all the graces: the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Only in Her, can the soul find the spiritual and moral fullness, that St. Peter’s Square and the countless closed churches now no longer offer.
And then, he further reflects on the important role of St. John the Evangelist who stood side by side with Mary at the Cross:
Those devoted to Mary are a spiritual family which has its prototype and patron in St. John, the Evangelist, the beloved apostle, who, on Calvary, received an immense legacy from Jesus. Everything is summed up in the words of Jesus, when, from the Cross, “[He saw] his mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother” (John, 19, 26-27). With these words Jesus established a divine and indissoluble bond, not only between Our Blessed Mother and St. John – the representative of mankind – but between Her and all the souls following the example of St. John’s faith and fidelity. St. John is the model of those, who, in the hour of betrayal and renunciation, remain faithful to Jesus, through Mary.