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Sick, isolated are united in Christ, pope

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Pope Francis prays in front of a crucifix at the Church of St. Marcellus in Rome March 15, 2020. The crucifix was carried through Rome in 1522 during the “Great Plague.” PHOTO: CNS/Vatican Media

As many Catholics are unable to attend Mass or gather because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis recalled the Church’s spiritual communion as the Body of Christ, united in prayer.

“In this pandemic situation, in which we find ourselves living more or less isolated, we are invited to rediscover and deepen the value of the communion which unites all members of the Church,” Pope Francis said on 15 March.

“May the Lord bless you and Our Lady guard you.”

Speaking at the end of his Sunday Angelus address, he said “united with Christ we are never alone, but we form a single Body, of which He is the Head.”

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“It is a union that is nourished with prayer, and also with spiritual communion in the Eucharist, a highly recommended practice when it is not possible to receive the sacrament,” he urged.

“I say this for everyone, especially for people who live alone.”

Due to the global coronavirus outbreak, Pope Francis prayed the midday Marian prayer via live video from his library in the Vatican’s apostolic palace. Usually he leads the prayer from a window overlooking pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square.

“These days St Peter’s Square is closed,” the pope remarked, “so my greeting goes directly to you who are connected through the media.”

“Thank you so much for all the strength each of you gives to help during this very difficult moment,” he said. “May the Lord bless you and Our Lady guard you.”

He renewed his closeness to the sick, those who care for them, and to workers and volunteers helping people who cannot leave their homes.

Francis also expressed his closeness to those who are helping to meet the needs of the poor and homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pope Francis walks down Via del Corso to pray at the Church of St. Marcellus in Rome March 15, 2020. The pope prayed as coronavirus deaths in Italy peaked at 368 in a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,809 out of 24,747 cases. PHOTO: CNS/Vatican Media

He thanked the archbishop of Milan for his closeness to his people and to God in prayer. He also thanked priests, especially those in northern Italy, for being creative in their solutions to help Catholics feel supported during this time.

Pope Francis offered his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta March 15 for all those who, during the coronavirus pandemic, keep the city running with their work: “employees of the pharmacies, the supermarkets, transportation, policemen.”

“Let us pray for all those who are working so that community life, city life, can go on at this moment,” he said.

Daily Masses livestreamed

The pope’s morning Masses, which will continue to be livestreamed every day next week, are being offered for those who are sick with coronavirus and for the suffering.

In his homily, Francis reflected on Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. At this meeting, Jesus reveals his identity as the Messiah for the first time in the Gospels.

He reveals his identity to a woman, a sinner, who had the courage to tell him the truth about herself, the pope said. The Samaritan woman then had the courage to proclaim the news of the coming of the Messiah to others.

“salvation does not lie in the ‘things’ of this world”

Before the Angelus, Francis said “if our searching and our thirst find their full fulfillment in Christ, we will show that salvation does not lie in the ‘things’ of this world, but in the One who loved us and always loves us: Jesus our Savior.”

“May Mary Most Holy help us to cultivate the desire for Christ, the source of living water, the only one who can satisfy the thirst for life and love that we carry in our hearts,” he prayed.

On the same day Pope Francis made a surprise excursion through the deserted streets of Rome to pray for an end to COVID-19.

Taking his own advice of a week ago for priests to go and take Christ to the streets during the crisis, he walked to pray at San Marcello al Corso in front of the same cross that was carried through Rome in 1522 to end the ‘Great Plague’.

He also walked to the Basilica of St Mary Major, to offer a prayer for the intercession of the Virgin Mary in front of the Salus Populi Romani icon

Article originally published at Catholic News Agency.

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