MEXICO CITY, Mexico — When Fr. Antonio Pérez Hernández was recently hospitalized with COVID-19, he said he was able to witness firsthand how God is present in the midst of suffering.

The priest shared his experience in a recent video posted by the archdiocese of Tlanepantla, Mexico, where he serves.
After Father Pérez fell sick with the virus, he was admitted to a public hospital where he shared a room with other patients, some of whom died.

“When I was in that place, there came a time when I did feel like God could call me into his presence,” he said.

“And that's when you discover abandonment, the total abandonment of saying to the Lord: ‘Here I am, if you want to call me, I am willing; if you want to leave me, I am also willing. I only ask that you please give me the strength to give absolution and attend to my brothers who are suffering from the disease just like I am’.”

The priest said that despite the illness, his experience at the hospital was beautiful and freeing, because he “felt the loving presence of God.”

While at the hospital, Father Pérez said he always introduced himself as a priest and gave absolution to the sick who requested it. He said he found Christ in the sick patients and was reminded that “we all need Jesus.”

He witnessed four patients die, but said that after giving them absolution, he could see that “they were comforted, they were at peace.”

Through constant prayer, the priest said he watched the hospital rooms be transformed into places of peace where the presence of God could be felt and encountered.

When Father Pérez was discharged, he said some people told him, “Father we’re going to miss you, you gave us hope, you made us feel Christ in the midst of all this.”

“I said to them: ‘Christ is going to stay with you. I am leaving, but Christ remains. God is not leaving you alone’,” he continued.

Father Pérez believes God is using the pandemic to heal hearts. “God is making us see what is truly important,” he said.

“Those of us who were there had no contact with family. Those who died, died without having any contact with the family," father Pérez recounted, and stressed the importance of  “valuing the presence of the family, valuing friends, valuing life.”

“There comes a time when you only have your hospital gown, you have nothing,” he said, but at that moment “you experience that abandonment of saying to the Lord: ‘Lord, I have you. What more do I want if I have you?’”

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.