Prayer in the time of corona

Tiles spelling ‘St. Philip Neri Pray For Us’ are embedded in the concrete in front the Chapel.

Since its inception in 1997, The Chapel of St. Philip has been about gathering, particularly in prayer or in another spiritual endeavor.

While we are prohibited from gathering, as we help stem the tide of COVID-19, we are still free to join in prayer.

Prayer is about as universal a thing as there is and has been for human history. Even atheists have slogans, verbal commitments, encourage groups to get together and chant.

You bring people together and it’s a form of prayer.

It’s universal.

A lot of the purpose of prayer is to unify, but there is also space for solitude.

At St. Louis Bertrand Church last week, though there were no public Masses, 10-12 people were there at a time — spread widely throughout the cavernous building, avoiding contact. Each was in his or her own private prayer. But there was solace in the sense there was still community, others praying nearby.

We’re all there together and apart. We have our solitude and our community at the same time. It’s like the Trinity. We all want community and we all want simplicity that comes with solitude.

We’re all shut-ins right now to one extent or another.

We’ve had to reconsider our prayer and our spiritual selves and our relationship to one another. We can learn from that now.

For now, we’ll explore this new way of being. And we pray with hope for a time when we can unite again in communal prayer.

Here’s a prayer we can share in our solitude in communion with one another:

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well.
Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
— Excerpt from ‘A Coronavirus Prayer,’ America Magazine, by Kerry Weber.

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