Fr. Stefano Cartabia, OMI

Fr. Stefano Cartabia, OMI (Photo:

“Will everything be alright?”

Night falls on the city of Milan, hit and gripped by the virus, a virus so “regal” that it even has a crown (corona).

I am going to bed. Ambulance sirens… one, two, three… These days it is the familiar sound that breaks the silence of quarantine.

Is there anything I can do to share the suffering of so many people? How can I collaborate? How can I offer life in this situation? These are nocturnal questions while I wait for a refreshing sleep.

“Everything will be fine”, proclaim all the media and children’s drawings. Without a doubt, I am convinced. In the end, everything will be fine. However, something tells me that I cannot forget about those things that did not go well.

A few hundred meters from my house and a few kilometres away, hundreds of people died. They died alone, isolated, without even a handshake from any family member. They died in a cold intensive care unit where the only friendly hand was that of the doctors and nurses.

Doctors and nurses: the heroes of this time. Massacring shifts, exposed to contagion, without sleeping for days and eating when you can and what you can.

The dead are already resting and already living a full life, without viruses or respirators. Yet their families remain destroyed: children who could not say goodbye to their parents and brides who could not give the last kiss. There are also families without work, shrouded in uncertainty.

“Everything will be fine”, no doubt. Nevertheless, we must respond to so much pain and so many things that we do not understand, that we cannot understand.

What can I do? What am I called upon to do? Perhaps this is the moment of the heroism of impotence. The heroism of sitting in silence and letting yourself be invaded by the pain of the world; feeling the anguish of the people, the tiredness of the doctors, the tears of loss.

I breathe. Sitting calm and quiet, I take on human impotence and let myself be transformed by it.

I breathe. Often the heroism lies in the quietness of a love that assumes impotence. We cannot always “do”. Sometimes we simply have to “stay”. Stand there, like Moses on the mountain, with our hands up (Ex 17:11).

Be calm and quiet so that our intimate being can dissolve pain and incomprehension.

It is the moment of the heroism of impotence. Impotence which, if we know how to love it, will transform us into thanksgiving and gratitude. Perhaps coronavirus has come to teach us that everything is given, a gift, nothing is possession. Everything passes, only Love remains.

I breathe. Sitting quietly. Another ambulance. But I know, “Everything will be fine.”