In early March, a nationwide emergency was declared in Italy because of the covid-19 epidemic. Since then, the face-to-face teaching activities at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross have ceased, and the seminarians and formators have remained on the grounds of Sedes Sapientiae, desiring to collaborate as much as possible with the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus.
Although physically isolated, from the beginning of this situation we have been accompanied by many people, and we continue to be so: as we described in more detail in another article, there have been many calls and almost countless messages coming from the four corners of the world asking how we are and assuring prayers: relatives, friends, priests former seminarians of the Sedes, benefactors, people we have met on the occasion of our pastoral work in Italy... and, of course, our Bishops. All of them have turned and are turning to us. And we feel called to respond by praying more generously for those who need it most at this time and offering for them the inconvenience that comes from being closed in.
The atmosphere at the Sedes Sapientiae is one of serenity. We keep to a fixed schedule of work, assignments and moments dedicated to prayer, which sets the tone every day and helps us to make the most of our time. Many professors from the University of the Holy Cross are giving their classes online, and we have quickly become familiar with the tools that make it easier to follow them and, if necessary, ask questions: YouTube live with its chat, Skype and Zoom have been some of the most used platforms. Although there are also teachers who prefer to record their lesson in a simple mp3: it is always possible to contact them later to clarify doubts or go deeper. As well as some teachers who have requested written work, the conclusion is that we are possibly dedicating more hours to study than we normally do.
There are also those who have set out to improve their own cultural formation, reading a valuable book, watching a high quality film, making virtual visits to museums... In this sense, the School even offered us the possibility of participating in front of the screen in an interesting conference that an expert gave us online about his speciality: climate change and global warming. At least there was some variation in the subject and in our thoughts, forgetting for a few moments about the health emergency.
Although, as we know, the Sedes Sapientiae does not have a large garden (a certain price has to be paid for our location in the heart of Rome's historical centre), there is enough of it for jogging enthusiasts to trace a route that allows them to burn off energy on a daily basis. Others have done the same in the gym, with the help of some exercise bikes and weight machines. Along with that, working in the sacristy, caring for the garden, maintaining the house, periodically cleaning the windows, washing dishes and preparing the dining room, and other tasks have also helped us to be busy and serving others, which is perhaps especially healthy at this time.
And, of course, at no time has the formative activity ceased, as well as the cultivation of our spiritual life. We have followed very closely the words that the Holy Father has repeatedly addressed to Catholics in this situation, and we have followed as best we could the invitations of the Vicar of the Diocese of Rome to offer a day of fasting on Wednesday 11 March, and of the Pope and the CEI to offer the prayer of the rosary for Italy on the 19th at 9 pm. We have also tried to unite ourselves wholeheartedly to the pastoral exhortations of each of our Bishops.
We try to abandon ourselves into the Lord's hands so that, with his grace, these humanly difficult circumstances may mean for each of us an interior growth in faith, hope and charity; and so that from here we may help, through the communion of saints, so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering in this beloved country that hosts us and in other places in the world.