Finding Encouragement During an Endemic


On the morning of (March 20 when I meditated on the gospel of the day (Mk 12:28b-34) about loving God “with all your heart …all your soul… all your mind…all your strength” and “love your neighbour as yourself”, I was immediately drawn to pray the mantra about which I wrote here previously many months ago.

This mantra (I am here, YOU are here; YOU are THERE, I am THERE) came to me in prayer many years ago during a Zen retreat under the leadership of Fr. Robert Kennedy, S.J.

It was a moment when I experienced being in complete union with God and with everyone and everything else on this planet; and God in union with me and with everything in the universe.

I pray this mantra several times every day – when I wake up in the morning, as I prepare for prayer, when I am taking a shower, walking to work, etc. etc.).

Often, when I am thinking of someone else for whom I am praying, I insert that person’s name (eg. Joe/Jane is here, YOU are here; YOU are THERE, Joe/Jane is THERE).  At other times, I pluralize it for a specific group (family, friends, colleagues, parishioners, …) or for all people everywhere (We are here, YOU are here; YOU are THERE, we are THERE).

I have found that this mantra often draws me into a deep consciousness of the intimate presence of Christ (and of the Holy Trinity, because where ONE is, all THREE are) “for in  him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in  him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17)

During this COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis and many others are urging their fellow human beings to find ways of seeing all of humanity united together and supportive of one another through all possible preventative measures to curtail the spread of the virus.

For me, this mantra brings me to that consciousness and to a deep hope, faith and love in God who journeys with us through this time of suffering.

I recommend that you repeat it slowly and deliberately several times. You will be surprised at how calming, uniting and encouraging it is – I am here, YOU are here; YOU are THERE, I am THERE (or) We are here, YOU are here; YOU are THERE, we are THERE.

Bernie Carroll, SJ, is a spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 06:08h, 27 March Reply

    Thank you Bernie for sharing this inspired mantra. I will pass it on to others in my parish.

  • John Montague
    Posted at 06:32h, 27 March Reply

    Very helpful. Thank you Bernie. I remember you very well from the retreat in Guelph 1993.

  • Bernice Dookhan-Khan
    Posted at 13:57h, 27 March Reply

    Thanks for your words of encouragement Fr. Bernie. God is in control. Blessings.

  • Sylvia
    Posted at 17:01h, 27 March Reply

    Thank you so much Fr. Bernie. A reflection and a mantra much appreciated and needed during this time of pain and fear .

  • Vicki Aimola-Veri
    Posted at 20:43h, 27 March Reply

    Thank you Bernie , for this lovely Mantra !

  • Jeanne Lovelock
    Posted at 22:54h, 27 March Reply

    Thank you Bernie I read this just before bed tonight .
    I will share for sure.


  • Connie S
    Posted at 16:02h, 28 March Reply

    Thanks Bernie. I have heard it before. I needed to hear it again.
    Very powerful.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 01:54h, 30 March Reply

    Thank you Bernie!

  • Donna Zeolla
    Posted at 07:44h, 31 March Reply

    Thank you, Fr. That is especially helpful for those of us separated from our families, our children, our grandchildren, our students and our friends. I will gratefully take and share your gift.
    Donna Zeolla

  • (Fr.) Ted Slaman
    Posted at 12:03h, 31 March Reply

    Thanks Bernie. I will try it. May we all be there with each other during this COVID 19 trial.

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