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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Search for a "Perfect Baby" Leads to Lethal Discrimination

#Savethe8th Poster Child Asks Society to Step Back from "Heartless" Choice 

by Susan Fox

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  (Isaiah 49:15)  

It’s important to remember that quote from Isaiah because the story I am about to tell you will rip your heart out. 

Imagine you are a beautiful young woman from England, a convert to Catholicism, a college student, an excellent writer and a fiery and outspoken speaker. But you have some extra baggage, a small handicap — an extra chromosome, creating a condition known as Trisomy 21 (T21) or Down Syndrome. It is associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability  and characteristic facial features. 

On the internet you come across a website, “What to expect,”  full of happy mothers learning what to expect when they become pregnant. 

The website has this proud disclaimer: “The educational health content on What To Expect is reviewed by our team of experts to be up-to-date and in line with the latest evidence-based medical information and accepted health guidelines, including the medically reviewed What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.”

But then you come across the web site’s discussion on “Termination for Medical Reasons.”  This is a group of heartbroken mothers discussing their reasons for aborting their “longed for” child for the “good of the family” and for the good of the child — because they deem his or her medical condition makes its life not worth living. Each child discussed has been exhaustedly diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb using prenatal testing. 

“In our hearts I think we are leaning towards terminating but I feel like such a monster for even thinking that. This baby was wanted so much and I feel like we’re giving up on it just because he/she’s not perfect,” One mother, “BecciDC,” opined on Sept. 13, 2019. 

People in this group are struggling with their consciences: “I’m Christian and really struggled with this. How could God forgive me for such a sin? How could God forgive me if I”m truly not repentant, meaning I think I did the best thing for our family?  I struggled and still struggle with this,” “whitelilyofthevalley” wrote on Jan. 26, 2019.

But this “Christian” mother protected herself from those who would try and change her mind before the abortion. She didn’t confide in her true Christians friends. She confided instead in this lethal group of pro-abortionists called, “Termination for Medical Reasons.” 

When  someone told her, “Jesus died on the cross for our sins — for all of them,” she shrugged her shoulders and accepted the abortion choice. But I assure you, Mother,  Jesus did not die on the cross so that you — or I — can commit an abomination without compunction.

And once the decision to abort is made, love dies.

“On the day of the scan, all the medical opinions were that this was probably not a viable pregnancy …we cried and grieved for our baby before we even had the results. And since then I’ve become so disconnected from my pregnancy, we’ve stopped talking to belly and rubbing belly, and I can’t bear to put maternity clothes on,” “BecciDC” added in her Sept. 13 comments.

So Charlotte Helene Fien aka Charlie, the beautiful 24-year-old
Charlie Fien and her fiancee Riley Petterson at college
college student  I mentioned earlier, who has spoken twice before the United Nations to save the lives of unborn children with Down Syndrome, entered the discussion kindly and patiently on Aug. 8, 2019 under the pseudonym “T21isawesome.” This was her testimony:

“You are correct there are medical problems. I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when I was little. I don’t remember it. But I’ve seen pictures of me bald. I had congenital cataracts and had surgery on both my eyes. I can see well now. Professor Sue Buckley — world expert on Down Syndrome  — says 80 percent of us read, write and can live independently with some support. I was potty trained before my brothers, who don’t have DS. As far as burdens go, your child with 46 chromosomes could end up a being a drug addict or have mental health problems. I know 1000s of people like me all over the world. All of them, speak, read, write, don’t wear diapers. They live happy lives.” 

But Charlotte Fien was thrown out of the mother’s group and labeled a “troll.” 

But who really is the troll? The young woman who gives her life repeatedly for justice or the young mother prepared to commit an injustice?

“Abortion is such a cruel, barbaric and selfish thing. I feel angry and sad when mums kill babies with Down syndrome. Lots of people use the word ‘troll’ wrong,” Ms. Fien told me in a written interview. “They use troll to describe anyone who disagrees with them or contradicts them. It is frustrating dealing with parents who won’t listen to the truth.”

“Discrimination starts before birth and lasts our entire lives,” Ms. Fien said before a Human Rights panel of the United Nations in Geneva on March 15, 2018. “Around the world, more than 90 percent of babies found to have Down’s Syndrome are aborted up to birth. Governments and health ministers are keen to get rid of us. Some countries like Netherlands have put a price tag on our heads. They think the world will be better without people like me,” she sadly admitted.

On Oct. 14, 2019, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed her assessment when it voted to block Ohio’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act from going into effect. If it were allowed into law, it would be illegal to abort a child based on the diagnosis of Down Syndrome. 

So, she asks, why. Why is the world determined to eliminate people with Down Syndrome? “Because eugenics is becoming a thing to admire. A perfect baby, a perfect family, a perfect society are now possible.”

But is such perfection real? “No, there is no such thing as perfection. You can try and kill off everyone with Down’s Syndrome by using abortion but you won’t be any closer to a perfect society. You will just be closer to a cruel, heartless one in my opinion,” she told the UN Human Rights Panel. 

“Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of the human population by excluding certain genetic groups judged to be inferior, and promoting other genetic groups judged to be superior,” according to Wikipedia:

Eugenics was practiced by the Nazi Regime in World War II. The German Third Reich set up death camps for Jews, whom they deemed to be an inferior race. 

Eugenics was also encouraged and practiced by the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who said, “Birth control itself, often denounced as a violation of natural law, is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives… If we are to make racial progress, this development of womanhood must precede motherhood in every individual woman.”

Sanger’s eugenic poison has now permeated society to the point that ordinary mothers — someone you would never suspect of murder — are discussing killing their handicapped child brazenly online in public chat rooms. 

Abortion is never a solution for unborn children with disabilities, Pope Francis told people at a Vatican conference titled, Yes to Life! Caring for the precious gift of life in its frailness” on May 25, 2019. “On a social level, the fear and hostility towards disability often lead to the choice of abortion, configuring it as a practice of ‘prevention.’ But the Church’s teaching on this point is clear: human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes should be discouraged with strength, because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality, which takes away the possibility of families welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children,” Pope Francis said. 

Eugenics is raising its ugly head in the world now during the current Coronavirus crisis. Hospitals in UK and the U.S. are preparing to restrict health care treatments for those who are elderly or already ill to prevent the health care system from being overloaded. Italy already had to do so, choosing to give a ventilator to a relatively younger man (age 40), allowing an elderly lady to die. However, President Trump tweeted that all Americans will be given equal care regardless of age or preexisting health conditions. 

“We need laws that protect us from eugenic abortions,” Ms Fien told members of the UN Human Rights Panel. “People like human rights expert Ben-Achour says women should be made or forced to abort if the baby has Down’s Syndrome. How is that not Eugenics? How is that acceptable to target a group of human beings for extinction? Is that not genocide? If the UN is to be taken seriously then they will create sanctions against countries practicing eugenics. They need to start with Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They need to put an end to the genocide against people with Down’s Syndrome.”

Charlotte herself has an amazing record of pushing back when public figures speak out for abortion of handicapped children. I ran across this article on Church Militant, “Woman with Down Syndrome Rips Into Pro-Abortion UN Speaker.” The author, David Nussman, seemed very impressed that a woman with Down Syndrome — identified only as “Charlotte” — was ready to battle human rights “expert” Yadh Ben Achour, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee.

In November, 2017, Ben Achour went on video to support abortion for children with Down Syndrome as a “preventative measure” to “avoid the handicap.” 

Ms. Fien shot back with a video of her own: “Mr. Ben Achour your comments about people with Down Syndrome deeply offend me. I felt you attacked me for being who I am. Who am I, Mr. Ben Achour? I’m a human being just like you. Our only difference is an extra chromosome.” Then she concludes that her extra chromosome makes her “far more tolerant” than he is.

While Ben Achour described himself as “an ardent defender of the handicapped,” he coldly suggested that the State do everything possible to prevent a “disabled fetus” from being born. 
Charlotte poignantly rebuked him: “If any other heritable traits like skin colour were used to eradicate a group of people, the world would cry out!” 

“I have a brilliant life. I have a family that loves me. I have great friends. I have an active social life...What you are suggesting is eugenics. It’s…evil. You need to apologise for your horrible comments,” Ms Fien said.  And then she recommended that he be removed from the Human Rights Committee. “The Human Rights Committee needs people who will genuinely fight for the rights of others,” she said

As for herself, Ms. Fien said “I will fight for our right to exist for the rest of my life!”

It sounded like a promise. Ms Fien’s life is falling into that pattern. She became the poster child for #Savethe8th, the pro-life movement that swept Ireland in 2018 to try and protect the country's 8th Amendment, which offered constitutional protections equally for the life of the Irish mother and her unborn child.

On March 10, 2018, Charlotte addressed a loud and excited crowd of 100,000 pro-life Irish in Dublin City Centre. This took great courage. “I was really surprised to see so many posters of me with quotes of things I’ve said in the past,” Charlotte told me. “I loved speaking in Dublin, [but] it was very scary because 100,000 screaming people is a lot to deal with when speaking in public. I was nervous and scared of the noise because of my autism, but I did it! When the audience screamed out I paused my speech and let them calm down then I started speaking again.” 

Charlie Fien in the cockpit with the pilot  
on the way to Dublin in 2018 
“The death penalty was abolished in the U.K. because it’s cruel and barbaric. If killing a murderer is cruel …then surely killing your own innocent baby is the epitome of evil,” Charlotte told the crowd on that historic day in Dublin. “Ireland is not like the U.K., Iceland and Denmark [countries attempting to eradicate Down Syndrome]. Ireland is a moral country that values life. Does Ireland want to …allow up-to-birth abortions?”  The crowd roared, “No!” She responded, “No, I don’t believe you do! I beg you to Save the 8th!”  

But her heroic message fell largely on deaf ears. On May 25, 2018, two thirds of that country’s electorate removed the 8th Amendment, allowing the government to pass unrestricted abortion laws. Overnight the Irish were stripped of free speech, the right to assembly and the sanctity of a doctor’s conscience because of these new abortion bills.      

While Irish children in the womb now face possible extinction, Ms. Fien has not been deterred from her mission. This past summer of 2019, she came to the United States to save American lives. And she saved one, while witnessing outside abortion clinics in New York City for a group called EMC Frontline

New York is the abortion capital of the United States. More than 70,000 children lose their lives there every year, victims of abortion and infanticide — their little bodies sold for parts sometimes while their hearts still beat.

“I know that one out of thousands doesn’t seem like much but it was very important to me,” Ms. Fien told me in her  written interview. “Sidewalk counselling is  challenging hard work! You try to save a life and when you don’t succeed it hurts your heart and soul! But don’t give up. Sometimes, I just prayed the rosary outside Planned Parenthood on Bleecker Street in Manhattan.”

And that seems to be the key to understanding the heart of Miss Charlotte Helene Fien aka “Charlie” — her Catholic faith. She does not give up. She sees injustice and she speaks up.  “My faith plays a big part in what I’m doing. I always feel God’s guidance in every step I take. I always ask God to lead me in the right direction,” she told me.

In fact she regularly prays Dr. Martin Luther King’s prayer: "Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for
Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist like
Charlotte Fien
a purpose greater than myself.”

But Ms Fien was not always religious. She was born into a non-Christian home. Her father is an atheist and her mother a non-practicing Jew. But when she was little she spent time with her French Catholic grandmother, whom she noticed “was never afraid or angry.” Her “Granny” had her baptised Catholic in France, and then “I did my first communion at 14 and my confirmation at 16-years-old in London,” she said. Now she  has found a treasure in the Catholic Mass, which “makes you calm, peaceful and takes your fear away.” 

“My parents were okay with me being Catholic but they never took me to Mass. I now go to Mass once or twice a week. I love mass and the Virgin Mary. I love doing the Rosary. I like being able to confess my sins to my priest every Saturday,” Charlotte told me. 

Whenever she is upset and lost, she’s found this passage from Proverbs 3:5-6 comforting: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Already hers is a very full life.  She entered Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, U.S.A. in the fall of 2019, planning a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in French. She went there to join her fiancee, Riley Petterson, who is studying Special Education at the college. Now, they have both been accepted at the College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, for the Fall of 2020. 

“Riley and I met through my UN work. He saw my first speech at the UN in 2017. Riley’s Mum, Audrey, told him he should chat to me. He contacted me in April 2017. We did FaceTime for nearly a year every day. He had been living near Portland, Oregon. We finally met in person on the 4th of April, 2018,” Ms Fien said.

Blissfully happy, Charlie & Riley
plan to marry in 2021
Then on Oct. 23, 2018, he proposed by the river in her home town of Guildford, England. “I cried when Riley proposed. My Mum, Dad and family love Riley,” Ms. Fien said. It seems a match made in heaven — they are both on the same path of advocacy for the handicapped. Riley, who has Aspergers, is an advocate for people with Autism.  They plan to be married on July 24, 2021, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina.

“We are great together. He’s kind, intelligent, handsome, tall and [has a] great sense of humour. He is also a devout Christian!” she told me. 

But there are countless other little persons with Down Syndrome, who will never grow up and know the joy that Charlie Fien and Riley Petterson share. 

In September, 2019, Nurse Jill Stanek testified before a U.S. congressional committee on the proposed 2019 Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that has been proposed and rejected numerous times in the House and the Senate because of Republican support and Democrat opposition. 

Nurse Stanek told the story of working in a Chicago hospital 20 years ago when she found a newborn infant left to die in a soiled utility room. He was a survivor of a late term abortion procedure. “I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone, so I rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived,” Stanek told members of the House. The child, of course, had Down Syndrome.  

“Genocide of my community is very real. Countries like Iceland boast they abort nearly 100% of babies with Down Syndrome. Denmark says they will be Down Syndrome free in 20 years time. My country, England, has a 92% abortion rate for DS. The UN’s definition of genocide is when no further births occur within a group. That means what’s happening to us is genocide,” Ms Fien said. 

“I am not suffering,” Fien declared in her first UN Human Rights hearing in 2017. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s Syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives,” she said, adding, “We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. Please don’t try to kill us all off.”

Susan Fox publishes this blog, Christ's Faithful Witness, with almost 4 million page views and climbing. She graduated June 8, 2019 Magne Cum Laude with a Master’s in Marriage and Family from the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria, a pontifical school, faithful to the Catholic Magisterium. She is a former award winning investigative business reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, The San Diego Union, The Spokesmen Review in Spokane, Wash. and a newswire in Washington, D.C. where she wrote under her maiden name, Susan Burkhardt. 

Charlotte Fien can be found on Twitter at @fien_charlie and on Facebook 

She also has a Facebook Group, “Stop Trying to Eradicate Downs Syndrome.” 

If you would like to read more about the failed #Savethe8th campaign to prevent the legalisation of abortion in Ireland in 2018, read: "Pro-Life Irish Grieve for their Country as Abortion Sinks Its Teeth Into Ireland"

They are letting the elderly Coronavirus patients with Down Syndrome die: GRIM FEARS People with Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy ‘could be left to die from coronavirus under new guidance

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Plague Cometh — We are Waiting Covid-19!

It’s Lent! There are mass graves in Iran. Grocery store shelves are empty of toilet paper. Catholics ask, “Where have they taken my Lord?”

by Susan Fox 

(Editor’s Note: This was written on March 18, 2020 as the Coronavirus was just taking hold in the U.S. and Austria. It’s an ironic look at our unplanned Lenten sacrifices. However, it is not intended to treat the matter lightly. The Coronavirus has caused an enormous amount of suffering and I’ve been praying for its victims and their families daily. God bless you.)

Students at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria pray the Rosary at 9 p.m. March 19, 2020 for victims of the Coronavirus
Trumau, Austria -- On March 17, I waited in the cold for the doors of the Apoteke to open. That’s an Austrian pharmacy. Unlike a U.S. drug store, one can mostly just buy prescription drugs.

There were three of us — all carefully spaced one meter apart -- and a sign in German just inside the sliding glass window that said “Stop! Only two customers at a time.” At least I think that’s what it said. There was the word, “Stop,” the number 2 and the word, “Kunden.” 

While we waited, Austrian men were hanging out of their apartment balconies — apparently watching us (two old Austrian men and one old American lady) stand in line. 

Yes, there is nothing to do in Austria where every Church has stopped offering Mass and every store is closed except for grocery and pharmacies. So hang out your balcony and watch people line up. Very amusing. They weren’t even smoking. 

Medical care for the sick has almost ceased. I know. I tried to get a CT scan of my kidneys Monday morning (March 16) and when we got to the hospital we were stopped by hired security, who forced us to park in the outside community and then get in a long line to be checked for the coronavirus. It was cold. I gave up after the line didn’t move for 25 minutes. I feared my husband would get sick. 

The only way to get medical care — other than seeing your primary doctor — is to arrive in an ambulance. But not if you are suspected of having the coronavirus. Then you are supposed to stay home.  As the nurse told me on the phone, "Hospitals are dangerous places now." 

At my doctor’s office, there was the same procedure — line up one meter a part. Don’t come in unless you call first. The doctor gave me a referral for a CT scan, told me to call X-ray and make an appointment. I did. There in the nurse’s broken English and my fractured German I managed to find out that there were no X-rays for at least 3 weeks. It’s Lent, and I must fast from CT Scans until Easter? 

Empty Toilet Paper Shelves in Florida. The
curse is worldwide
Where is the toilet paper? Friends in Florida and California found the toilet paper shelves empty as did most of the students at my school here in Trumau, Austria.

At my university, which is closed, we are fasting from each other. There are a lot of people still on campus, but many are lonely because we can’t socialise. Thank God classes are now back via Google hangouts online.

The problem is that we are 277 miles from the Italian border where the coronavirus (Cov-19) has overwhelmed the health care system. Italy has the highest death rate in the world with 63,297 confirmed cases and 6,077 deaths. But stayed tuned, those numbers change daily.

In Austria, not so much yet. Only 28 fatalities and 4,876 confirmed cases, but those numbers go up daily. Yet the country is bracing for the plague. Like parts of the U.S., the country is empty of cars, and most stores are closed. We are not allowed to go to the grocery store except once a week. They have special times when the more vulnerable elderly can enter the grocery store in the morning, and everyone else must stay out. 

But worse than that, the country’s 5.1 million Catholics cannot attend Mass. That’s a suffering for weekly and daily Mass goers, but not for the majority of the indifferent population, who only attend Mass on Christmas or Easter. 

In 2001, Catholics represented 73.6 percent of the population in Austria, but as of 2018 the number had dropped to 56.9 percent. Immigration and indifference accounts for the change. In 2016 only 6.8 percent of Catholics in Austria attended Mass. It’s the same story for most of Europe.

What must they be feeling now they can’t attend Mass? I remember Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night celebrated on a Saturday night a couple of years ago.  Krampus is a Christmas beast — half goat, half demon — who comes traditionally on Dec. 5th in Austria and Germany to beat all the children into being good. His chocolate figurine competes with St. Nicholas’ chocolate in the grocery stores here in December. 

My husband and I struggled to get to Saturday night Mass on that Krampus night in the freezing cold, but the road was blocked by 250 revellers and a
St. Nicholas and Krampus, the Christmas beast, duel it
out in December in Austria
Krampus demon swinging his torch of fire. Later our priest warned us real satanists had hijacked the children’s holiday. The satanists wore the friendly beast costume at these functions. 

When we got to Mass there were  only 15 people in attendance. That’s normal for this small town in Austria on a very cold night. The score that night was 250 for the devil, and 15 for Christ. 

Now Christ is mostly absent. Will anyone notice? History repeats itself. In 587 B.C., Solomon's Temple was destroyed by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II and his armies. It was rebuilt in 516 B.C., but the glorious presence of God (the Shekhinah), which filled the first temple, never returned. The Jews went on for centuries worshiping in the Temple seemingly unaware something was missing. 

The desire for God is the highest form of prayer. Such is a two-edged sword for those who go to Mass daily or weekly and are now forced to fast from the Holy Eucharist during Lent. 

God has put some mystics onto that fast — even to fast from his Presence. I tried it once involuntarily for five seconds and my first inclination was to find a window and jump to my death. Luckily I was sitting in a very low place — on a toilet in a basement. No windows.

I remember watching the movie “Teresa de Jesus” about the life of the 16th century Spanish noblewoman who became a  great mystic and a saint. In one scene, she went to communion in a state of grace, and her spiritual director, a priest, refused to give it to her. You should have seen the way the movie depicted her face! Yet such a fast was given for her spiritual growth. 

That’s not what the 12th century canon law collection Decretum Gratiani said referring to ex-communication: “Beloved, a Christian who is excluded from communion by the priests has been consigned to the devil.”

“Why?” writes Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in his book, Behold the Pierced One, “Because outside the Church there is the devil, whereas within the Church there is Christ.” 

But it sometimes happens that a Catholic person who is excommunicated from the Eucharist “progresses further along the path of patience and humility than if he were able to receive communion,”  the Cardinal wrote. Back to 2020. Essentially, many worldwide have been deprived of the Eucharist because of the virus. 

When St. Augustine knew that death approached he went on a voluntary  penance and excommunicated himself from the Eucharist, Ratzinger said, “He wanted to meet his Lord in the humility of those hunger and thirst for righteousness.” He literally manifested his solidarity with public sinners who seek pardon through the renunciation of communion. It’s similar to what happens when a Catholic remarries after a divorce and without an annulment. They can’t go to Communion.  If this is met with indifference, that is not good, but it if causes pain, it can be salvific. 

Such an approach seems counterintuitive for a daily-Mass-going Catholic in the state of grace. St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography said she was tempted by false humility to abandon her friendship with Christ.

Seeing her sins, Teresa decided to stop praying until she had achieved virtue. She went on this way for more than a year, and the result, she says, was she almost lost her soul. "I do not believe I have ever passed through so grave a peril as when the devil put this idea into my head under the guise of humility," she wrote.

Yet Pope Benedict points out regarding the fast from the Eucharist: “Do we not often take the reception of the Blessed Sacrament too lightly? Might not this kind of spiritual fasting be of service, or even necessary to deepen and renew our relationship with the Body of Christ?”

Now in Europe and some places in the U.S. this fast from the Eucharist has become mandatory. Anyone can approach a
Forlorn Catholics cannot attend Mass during the Coronavirus
priest and ask to be given the Eucharist. In large population centres like Toronto, New York and Vienna, it may be a difficult goal to realise on a daily basis. 

Whether such a fast is good or bad depends on the individual’s response. It is very bad for the lapsed or indifferent Catholic; good for the divorced and remarried Catholic anguished about the separation. Anything that sharpens our hunger for Christ is good. 

Imagine! The indifferent Catholics of Europe have lost the freedom to go to Mass. Will this stir their conscience?  With the plague breathing down their throats will Europeans recover their desire for the Presence of God? 

And what of the Catholics who can’t find a priest to give them communion? Their spiritual progress depends on how they suffer through the absence of Holy Communion:  “We can understand how, paradoxically, the impossibility of sacramental communion experienced in a sense of remoteness from God, in the pain of yearning which fosters the growth of love, can lead to spiritual progress, whereas rebellion …. inevitably destroys the positive and constructive sense of excommunication. Rebellion is not the healing but the destroying of love,” Pope Benedict said. 

On Sunday night before the ban on Mass went into effect in Austria (March 16), the parish priest in Trumau led a Eucharistic Procession around the entire town of 3,580 people. He carried the Eucharist. 

For me a profound sense of peace descended. On Monday night, the priests on campus serenaded all the students huddled in their apartments with the Byzantine Marian hymn, the Akathist: “Rejoice, thou through whom joy will flash forth! Rejoice, unwedded bride! Rejoice, thou through whom the curse will cease!” We heard the deep masculine voices from our windows and balconies. 

Many of our students were flying home the next day. After they are gone, we continue to pray the Rosary together at 9 p.m. from our balconies and our windows. We cannot socialise, but we sure can pray! 

In fact, Pope Francis has granted an enormous number of plenary indulgences for simple acts like saying the Rosary and watching Mass on TV while praying for the intentions of the victims of the Coronavirus! Those of us who remember that Pope John Paul II urged us to give our plenary indulgences to Our Lady for the poor souls in Purgatory now reap a rich harvest for heaven. 

On March 19, Pope Francis organised a worldwide Rosary for an end to the plague. I had emails from my friends in the United States urging me to pray the Rosary with the Pope. No fear, as usual at 9 p.m. here in Austria, the students all gathered outside to pray the Rosary while holding torches of fire. On this night, there was no sign of Krampus on campus.

So this Lent, you may be forced to fast from everything else, but keep praying.

Pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and their families. Pray for the world. 

Author Susan Fox publishes this Catholic blog, www.christsfaithfulwitness.com with almost 4 million page views. She graduated June 8, 2019 Magne Cum Laude with a Master’s in Marriage and Family from a pontifical school, faithful to the Catholic Magisterium, the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. She is a former award winning investigative business reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, The San Diego Union, The Spokesmen Review in Spokane, Wash. and a newswire in Washington, D.C. where she wrote under her maiden name, Susan Burkhardt.

Akathist sung by priests and students on the evening of April 1, 2020 in the courtyard outside our apartments at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria. It starts out hesitatingly, but builds powerfully by the end.