Covid-19 - A message from Italy
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
The following is a message from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Italy to the Bahá'ís of Italy.
10 March 2020
To the Bahá'ís of Italy
We are writing to you in this particularly delicate moment of history of our country. The dramatic evolution of the infection of virus Covid-19 – started in China just some weeks ago – and the drastic measures adopted by our Government, offer a perspective of particular severity for every responsible citizen. In just a handful of days, we have seen the spread of panic and fear, witnessing how any kind of certainty anchored in the material world, in an absence of a solid long-term spiritual vision, can be quickly dissolved; but we have also seen countless examples of solidarity and loyalty by health workers, teachers, professionals of every kind and responsible citizens who have readily responded to this situation of emergency, showing the innate nobility of a human being and that its true nature, when not clouded by the veils of egoism and materialism, is the one of giving, serving and contributing to the progress. During these days, we have seen many of our fellow citizens respond with courage and generosity, but also lucidity and rationality, trying to identify positive aspects of this crisis and to respect the indications regularly given by the institutions of the country. Indeed, these days have made visible the words of the Guardian about Italy and its population, which has “quality of heart and mind”.
In these tumultuous days, while each one of us makes an effort and contributes to cease an epidemic of global character, and in such a special period of fasting, we can turn our mind and our heart to God in order to reflect and comprehend more deeply His Plan for humanity and for Italy. Prayer, reading of Holy Writings, meditation and the study of the messages of Shoghi Effendi and Universal House of Justice are our instruments. How can a profoundly individualistic society learn to prefer the collective wellbeing over the wellbeing of an individual? And in which way a nation profoundly disappointed in civil institutions can build a healthy sense of obedience founded on trust and not fear? Furthermore, how can we learn to have profound and meaningful conversations with people around us, focused on the nature of human being and the need to contribute to personal and collective development? Finally, how to directly teach the Faith in order to talk about Bahá’u’lláh and to offer His vivifying message, in every moment and with every tool available? The lessons we are learning in these few days – regarding the receptivity of the people to the subjects such as obedience, individual responsibility for the collective wellbeing, institutional guidance, weakness of the idea of national sovereignty, unity of mankind – offer a strong certainty of the power of divine assistance and of the opportunity to grow concealed behind every test. It is the dynamics of crisis and victory, a dynamic which characterizes material and spiritual reality, which has never
A serene and positive vision of the future, which needs to be conveyed to people around us, should not make us underestimate the period of health and economic crisis. The situation is serious, very serious, and Bahá'í friends must be aware of it, but not paralyzed. We know what to do. The science and the institutions of our country offer us daily indications on what to do now. The Universal House of Justice guides us in what to do now and always. In these critical moments, the receptivity is visibly growing, people feel the need to find the answers to the aforementioned questions and they are looking for a spiritual vision. The effort lavished during the past twenty years by Italian and world Bahá'í communities, was to elevate the conversations with people around us to a meaningful level and to offer instruments for contributing to the betterment of the world. How much joy there is in seeing that the people who have already partaken in the healing message of Bahá’u’lláh – children and junior youth involved in educational activities, parents who are now passing a lot of time with their children and find themselves better equipped, man and women involved in meaningful conversations, individually and in study circles, youth suddenly freed from manifold commitments and sensitive to the needs of others, souls who pray daily – can count on a positive vision of the future and can share it with people close to them, at home or with their virtual contacts. Technological instruments at the moment available can be consciously and systematically used in order to avoid isolation and to continue to create a network of people connected with a conversation imbued with hope and trust. And we recall to mind, with an immense actuality, Guardian’s words addressed to one National Spiritual Assembly in 1957, in one of his last letters: “He does not want the friends to be fearful, or to dwell upon the unpleasant possibilities of the future. They must have the attitude that, if they do their part, which is to accomplish the goals of the Ten Year Plan, they can be sure that God will do His part and watch over them”.
Now, more than ever before, we have the need to turn united to the Source of hope and mercy, ensured that He will do as He wishes and will assist us in our efforts. We can dedicate these days to intense and special prayers: for our dear ones and people close to us, for the souls who are generously serving in various ways in this critical situation, for the sick and elderly, for the institutions of the State called on making difficult decisions, for the wellbeing of our country and the whole of humanity. While we respect the precautions which ask of us to avoid physical contacts, we need to stay spiritually connected with each other more than ever before: for that, is there a bigger gift than prayer? Many communities have undertaken initiatives to cover each hour of the day with invocations to the Beloved, to receive divine assistance which He, in His impenetrable wisdom, will wish to bestow upon this very tested country. With this certainty we ask the whole community to follow these examples and unite in a campaign of prayers, individual and collective, through available technological instruments. For realizing it, we have set up an online module in which every person can take charge of dedicating prayers in a specific moment during the day: https://forms.gle/RyqwVKDg7u56UtY37
O ye that are enamoured of the divine Beauty! O ye that are enraptured by the true Beloved! In this day when the fierce gales of tests and trials have encompassed the world, and fear and trembling have agitated the planet, ye must appear above the horizon of unwavering constancy with shining faces and radiant brows in such wise that the gloom of terror and confusion may be entirely obliterated and the light of certitude may shine resplendent in the luminous skies. - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
With loving Bahá’í greetings,