"No one is closer to us than he who healed our wounds.
For the Head is one with his members.
Let us therefore love him as our Lord and God."
– Saint Anthony of Padua
For me, the most poignant and painful stories of the pandemic are the testimony of nurses and physicians who must attend to the dying without direct physical touch. These caregivers are gloved, gowned and masked. Their patients are isolated from all those who love them.
Saint Anthony’s words today call us back to a truth of our faith: “No one is closer to us than he who healed our wounds. For the Head is one with his members.” He is speaking here, of course, of Christ.
The language of theology uses the comparison of “Head” and “members” for the Church. There is a spiritual reality which unites us with Christ—as people baptized into his Body. Perhaps these words fall short of comforting those suffering the extreme pain of separation from a loved one; there is a sadness which is almost impossible to understand or soothe. But faith can help, when we realize that Christ accompanies us in our humanness, because he knows what suffering means.
In our novena, we can at least pray that this closeness of Christ our Head with his suffering members—our family and friends stricken by COVID-19—will heal and give peace.