Dear Magdala Family,
There is an idea that has been turning around in our hearts these past months: surprises.
We are surprised by COVID-19: surprised by the drastic changes in our lives because of it, surprised by how we react to it, surprised by the absence of so many unnecessary things day-to-day because of the circumstances… We are probably even surprised by how people have shown such solidarity and generosity during this time of quarantine.
We have been surprised by the heroic acts of healthcare personnel and frontline essential workers. Who of us was not surprised seeing our aging Pope walking up the steps of an empty St. Peter´s Square, containing only a crucifix and an image of Mary, to pray for the end of the Pandemic on behalf of all mankind?
I would like to suggest some homework. Let us ask ourselves; What positive surprises mark my life? Humanly, professionally, spiritually… Many negative surprises will be always be found too – perhaps things that pass from of our lives or become less important to us. Yet positive surprises are like a new dawn – like something that have the power to improve our lives dramatically, freeing us and making us better people.
The Magdala Family has received many positive surprises in this time, and I would like to share some of them with you now.
First of all, we have been surprised by the great maturity, generosity, and servant leadership of the Magdala team. We have to thank them for demonstrating great dedication and team spirit. In the past months, as much of Israel was shut down in its nationwide lockdown effort to stop the spread of the Corona virus, 25 people – including myself – spent our time in Magdala doing absolutely everything required here. It has been beautiful to see everyone moved with the desire to help, support, and keep pushing ahead. When someone was feeling discouraged, there was always somebody else close by to reach out and to help cheer them up or lend a hand with their work. No matter what roads we travel, we will always find a Good Samaritan. I hope each of you have found your own good Samaritans these past months… or perhaps you have been the Samaritan for those around you.
I also want to acknowledge and give thanks for the special surprise that our benefactors and friends have repeatedly given us. They are well aware of the financial difficulties we have encountered during this time, and they haven’t thought twice about helping us shoulder this burden. Our most sincere appreciation and gratitude to each one of you! Every cent offered is an act of generosity which helps and moves us. We pray that God rewards your kindness and multiplies it.
From the beginning of the project, Magdala´s vision included the creation of the ‘Magdala Media Center’. Here too the pandemic surprised us with a technician that came to help us analyze what would be needed to make this future section of Magdala successful. We were again surprised as we found ourselves transmitting messages, Masses, prayers, conferences, and much more every day. These circumstances brought about the unexpected birth of this program that was already part of Magdala´s DNA, and is now well on its way. We hope to continue developing our media outreach to make the Holy Land and Magdala accessible to many more people around the world. Thankfully, technology and digital media have made this all possible.
I would also like to surprise each one of you with the news that the Magdala Guesthouse reopened its doors on the 18th of June to domestic tourism, hoping that will help us to restart our operation.
Clearly, someone who is full of surprises is working behind the scenes of this world and guiding our steps. My hope is that each one of you can discover the many positive and pleasant surprises that this period has brought into your lives. Let us always be open to more surprises. Praying my breviary, the other day with my brother priests, we encountered this passage in morning prayer:
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ´For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.´ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Romans 8, 35-37)
Dear family, may the love of God be our strength and foundation. In this way, any negative surprises of life will be put into their proper context, while the positive ones will be fully integrated into our lives. May God guide us always!
From Magdala, fraternally yours,
Fr. Juan María Solana, LC