WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly every afternoon just before 12:30, the sisters of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará leave their Capitol Hill convent to greet Monsignor Charles Pope at Washington’s Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian church. Together, they circle the popular Lincoln Park praying the rosary, an ancient and beautiful Catholic devotion.
It’s a contemplative prayer, rooted in scripture; a meditation on the sacred mysteries of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection that’s been prayed through many centuries and plagues before our own.
“The church remains open during the day for private prayer; people come and go all day long,” Msgr. Pope says. “While we can’t gather in the church with the people, we want the people to know we’re praying. We’re praying for them, and we’re praying for an end to this plague.”
“We’re used to praying for our neighbors and for the neighborhood all the time when people don’t see us and when they do see us,” Sister Theotokos agreed.
Six sisters and the monsignor were joined by Deacon Nathaniel Anderson, whose studies in Rome were interrupted, just as so many of our lives were. “He’ll be here with us the next few months,” Pope says, while he resumes his classes online.
“Thank you for keeping the church open,” Patricia Catalano told the monsignor as she walked by on her daily stroll. “It has been such a refuge.”
“This is just our way of saying we’re here, we still love you and care for you. We can’t gather like we used to in the churches but we’ll come out to see you. We’re hoping for a quick end to the death, and also so that people can get back to work and we can get back to receiving the sacrament and everything in the regular and the normal way.”
Many of us are used to spending holy week at church, and Easter with our family and friends. This year will be a quieter celebration, but just as holy.