A prayer for first responders during the coronavirus pandemic

Catherine Hopkins, Director of Community Outreach and School Health at St. Joseph's Hospital, stands outside a COVID-19 triage and testing tent, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Yonkers, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Loving God, in the midst of our world’s—your world’s—coronavirus crisis, we beg to bring before you the brave women and men who are closest to the sick and suffering.

So many are nameless to the public but not for the fellow human beings they are caring for: doctors and nurses, orderlies, chaplains and ambulance drivers, the police keeping order at hospitals, health aids in refugee camps and slums everywhere, scientists not directly on the scene of contagion but searching ardently, exhaustingly, for a cure. We give thanks for these men and women and all who prepare and deliver their food, clean their workplaces and ensure their safe transport home.

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Loving God, in the midst of our world’s—your world’s—coronavirus crisis, we beg to bring before you the brave women and men who are closest to the sick and suffering.

In earlier times, such bravery appeared in direct service by saints—the young Jesuit Aloysius Gonzaga contracting the plague from the poor of Rome and dying with them at 23, the Belgian missionary Damian of Molokai becoming a leper to live and die with lepers over 16 long years of being theirs for Christ.

[Explore all of America’s in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic]

Today the tools of science—medicine and surgery and, yes, ventilators—have changed the scene but not its anguished human face.

The fear, the anxiety, the dreadful uncertainty of the bravest among us at bedsides yield to trust that is sublime, sacrificial, and to the surrender of self—your own Son’s experience at Calvary.

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How can our hearts not ache for these men and women on the front lines of the crisis? But how can we not also feel ennobled just to learn of their commitment?

Help us to see how entrusting them to your own boundless care must be accompanied by our own need to care in some way, too. Help us to see in their courage our own fragile faith’s call to be with them in whatever way we can.

Oh great fellow sufferer who understands, let our amazement at the bravery of our first responders be an active one, a faith not only of solidarity in soul but in service.

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