Dear confreres and consoeurs, dear volunteers and supporters of the Order of Malta around the world,
What we are about to experience is a Christmas very different from all the others. It is usually a time of sharing and of being close to our loved ones, especially the elderly and the sick. Christmas this year is instead a time that calls for renunciation and a sense of responsibility. Let us allow ourselves to be enlightened by the ray of light coming from Bethlehem.
The year we are leaving behind has forced us to face unimaginable challenges. The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has changed our behaviors, our way of life, forcing each of us to deprive ourselves of the joy of sharing moments of life with our loved ones.
The situation in which we live requires an individual effort. Never before has it been so clear that the good of all depends on the actions of each one of us. It is our duty to protect the most fragile, the sick, the disabled, the elderly: those who suffer most in this health emergency. Our thoughts are therefore with them, as Pope Francis has asked several times in recent months. “Let us pray today for the elderly, especially for those who are isolated or in nursing homes. They are afraid, afraid of dying alone. They are our roots, our history. They have given us the faith, traditions, the sense of belonging to a homeland.”
Christmas gives me the opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you, members, volunteers and all the staff of the Order of Malta engaged in medical and social assistance activities in Italy and in many countries around the world. Your spirit of service, your professionalism and the enthusiasm I see in the eyes of the many young volunteers, are a source of pride for me. As I said the day after my election as Lieutenant Grand Master last November, it is my duty to honour this praiseworthy commitment.
Everywhere in the world, thanks to your courage and strength, you have not left our Lords the sick alone. I have learned with great admiration of your ability to adapt many projects to the new needs caused by the health crisis. With great imagination, you have created new services that bring relief across physical and geographical borders. I am thinking, for example, of food and medicine deliveries to those who are isolated or live alone and are ill; I am also thinking of the support offered by our psychologists over the phone.
This difficult situation is aggravated by the serious conflicts that continue to stain many parts of the world with blood, from the Middle East to Africa, where the Order of Malta continues to have a strong presence. The ability to dialogue and collaborate with peoples of different faiths and traditions reminds us of the important teaching left by the founder of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Gerard, whose death nine centuries ago we commemorated this year.
I wish all of you and your families a Holy Christmas full of peace and serenity. Let us pray to our Lord that the New Year may represent rebirth and hope for us all, especially for those who have been most affected by the consequences of this virus and the consequent economic crisis.
With my confraternal regards,
Fra’ Marco Luzzago