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National fast for Coronavirus emergency – Italy Wednesday 11 March (dinner) and Thursday 12 March (breakfast)

Dear all,

in these particular days for the whole world, and even more so for our country (Italy), we all wonder what we should do and how we can help.

The first thing we need to do is scrupulously follow the directions of the competent authorities. One of our Articles of Faith states: “We believe we must be subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, that we must obey, honor and uphold the laws” (Articles of Faith 1:12). Our scrupulous respect for what is ordered by civil authorities is a principle of our faith and puts us in a position to invoke the blessings of heaven.

But as believers we know we can do more. As children of God, we know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who has our destinies at heart.

The scriptures are full of accounts of simple men who have become heroes for placing their trust in God. One of these was the young and slender David who defeated Goliath, the great and fearsome Philistine, a warrior from his youth, whom everyone feared. David offered to fight by bringing as a dowry nothing but his awareness that: “The Lord who freed me from the lion's paw and the bear's paw, will also set me free from the hand of this Philistine.” Once in front of his fearful enemy, who mocked him for his frailness, David said to him: “You come to me with the sword, with the spear and with the javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, of the God of the hosts of Israel” (The Holy Bible, Old Testament, 1 Samuel 17: 1–50).

Here it may seem to someone that our faith is a little thing to oppose to the greatness of the enemy of these days, that Goliath that we have all learned to know as Covid-19 or Coronavirus. But the Scriptures remind us that David, with somewhat improbable means as the world may regard them, “with a slingshot and with a stone, won the Philistine”.

Even the New Testament speaks of some improbable means as the world may regard them which the Savior himself offers to the believer to defeat his “demons”. Matthew recounts that the disciples had not been able to heal a demon-possessed man and the Savior rebuked them for their lack of faith by saying that: “This race of demons is not driven out except by prayer and fasting” (The Holy Bible, New Testament, Matthew 17: 14–21). Jesus Christ teaches that sometimes, in addition to obedience and faith, the “demons” that we face in our lives can only be chased away “with prayer and fasting”.

Therefore in addition to obeying the provisions of the competent civil authorities, and continuing to trust in God, I invite all those who are physically able to do so to join in a fast for the Covid-19 emergency (Coronavirus).

To join in fasting every member of the Church in Italy, who is physically able to do it, and anyone who lives in Italy or loves Italy, whatever their religious belief or political affiliation, will abstain from food and water in the evening on Wednesday 11 March (dinner) and on the morning of Thursday 12 March (breakfast).

Several times during our fast, I invite each of us, both individually and as families, to pray to ask God (1) to continue to inspire and guide those who govern us in this time so difficult for the country, (2) to ensure that the measures taken by the institutions have the desired effectiveness, (3) that health workers are protected and strengthened beyond their normal capabilities, (4) that the population is diligent in putting the directives received into practice, (5) that those affected by the virus are strengthened to overcome it, (6) that those who have suffered a bereavement are comforted, (7) that the country comes out more united, and (8) that researchers can find a vaccine in much less time than the norm.

Let Psalm 46 be a source of peace for us in these turbulent days. I invite you to read it all and to fix in your mind the words: “Be still, and know that I am God".

Alessandro Dini-Ciacci

Area Seventy, Europe Area

Representative for Italy

Cc:          President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella

                President of the Senate, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati

                President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico

                President of the Council of Ministries, Giuseppe Conte

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