If anything, the isolation and uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus outbreak has had a beneficial effect on spiritual life, as more and more people seek advice, consolation and offer their help, Ferenc Beran, vicar of a once busy Roman Catholic church in Budapest, told daily Magyar Hírlap in an interview.
“Even though the pews are empty, I don’t feel that is so for the church. Our parishioners know that I hold the service at the usual time, at 6:30 in the morning, and they are there in spirit,” Beran, who is also confined to the parsonage on account of being over 65, said in the interview. “Even if invisibly, some 100 people are there and afterwards they send me photos of candles they lit during the service.”
The Catholic Caritas service is supplying him with daily necessities during the coronavirus crisis, but also with additional food for those who have lost their jobs and are grateful for any help they can get.
“Just a month and a half ago one of our parishioners proudly told me that she finally found a job as a cleaning lady, but has now been laid off,” Beran said. “We try to help them as best as we can. The outbreak may have separated us, but brought us closer spiritually.”
Beran also noted that his parish includes Margaret Island on the downtown stretch of the Danube, which has a very rich spiritual heritage. It was the location of a Dominican convent built by Hungarian King Béla IV after the Tatar invasion of 1241-42 expressly for his daughter, Margit.
Now revered as a saint, Margit of Hungary spent much of her time in the convent praying for the victims of the plague that followed the Tatar invasion.
“If someone is willing to suffer for another, the bond of love will become stronger. We very much need that in this world injured by the plague,” Beran said.