Letter from the Diocesan Administrator 21.3.2020

Dear brothers and sisters!

I’m writing to you now in this difficult time not only as the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Helsinki, but also as a Christian living through this with you. I believe that each of us has struggled during these days, and unfortunately, it looks like the difficulties are not going to ease up in the near future. 

Our faith has taught us that it is precisely during these moments, which over the course of a lifetime can be numerous and even more difficult, that Christ and the Word of God offer us secure places of refuge, giving us strength and light to find peace and certainty in the midst of the storm. 

The words storm, night and anguish often appear in the Gospels. The word anguish in Hebrew is similar to the word “Egypt.” Therefore, always when the the Bible says that the Lord has liberated the people of Israel from Egypt, the speaker of Hebrew also hears that God has freed his people from anguish, and ultimately, from death. 

This is the very foundation of our faith: Our Lord, our God, is greater, more powerful than a  pharaoh, even more powerful than death. He can and wants to liberate us. 

A well-known passage in the Gospel of Mark depicts the disciples crossing a lake at nightfall. “A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that is was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mark 4:37-38). Sometimes it seems the Lord is asleep while the storm is raging. This crisis is indeed comparable to a storm. What can we do? “They woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’”(Mark 4:39). We must wake Christ up. But how? With prayer.  

Dear brothers and sisters, our Lenten journey has now truly begun. Prayer is powerful when it is born in faith. Christ comforts us with these words: “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive (Matt. 21:22). The greatest danger to our Church is a loss of faith. This is a good time for us to strengthen our faith by encouraging others. We are called to remain united. Now is the moment for us to declare to the world that God is the rock that will never falter or fail. We can join the Psalmist and say these words,  “I love you, Lord, my strength. Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!”  (Psalms 18:2-3).

Now we are called to focus on the most fundamental things in our lives. What is truly constant in our lives is love, God’s love. Brothers and sisters, I urge you all to take courage. Fear not! The Lord is with us right now, especially now.  

What pains me the most is that for the time being we cannot meet in our beloved churches and celebrate the Eucharist together. But I am sure that many shepherds are seeking to reach you all through the many means available in this present day. I invite you all, especially families, to find time for praying together, especially on Sunday with the word of God. Now is the time to rediscover the Rosary. The mercy and gentleness of Mary can give us the strength to face whatever the future brings.  

At the end of that passage in the Gospel, Christ wakes up. “He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind ceased and there was great calm” (Mark 4:39). The Lord is here with us and can perform the greatest miracle of all: calming our hearts. The peace he gives is stronger than suffering, hopelessness, or fear. Let us continue along this unique Lenten journey with the certainty that the Lord is risen and loves us all. We are not alone! He is with us!   

I’m praying for all of you, especially for those of you who are sick!

Please, remember also me in your prayers,

Father Marco