Easter is only four weeks away. However, everyone seems to be more concerned about the current Coronavirus pandemic and also the “backdoor government” that creep ed in un-democratically to govern our nation. Personally, I am upset over this undemocratic party politics as they have done a great injustice to all voters of General Election 14. Unfortunately, life has to move on with all this political drama – until the next elections, that is.
What is currently most troubling in the minds of the people is the COVID-19 virus outbreak. It has affected every nation and is the fastest-spreading virus detected thus far this century. It is shocking and scary when we look at the tremendous increase in cases throughout the world. It has wobbled global economies, affecting the travel, tourism, hotel industries, as well bringing disruption to large gatherings, conferences, meetings, offices and also places of worship.
For the time being, all Weekend and Weekday Masses beginning 14 & 15 March 2020 until 29 March 2020 will be suspended. On 12 March 2020, the Catholic Bishops of Peninsular Malaysia officially announced that all Catholics are exempted from fulfilling their Sunday obligation of attending Mass during this period due to the COVID-19 virus.
Due to the risks faced and spike in the number of COVID-19 cases reported thus far, the Church has decided to cancel or postpone all spiritual formations and events. In our Parish, we have temporarily called-off several important formations and activities such as our 10 Weeks ALPHA and ALPHA Away Weekend Program, Tamil / English formations, RCIA Weekly programs, etc. For us Catholics, it appears that the weeks ahead are going to be rather unsettling!
In a couple of weeks, we will be entering Holy Week. How it is going to be? As we continue on our Lenten journey towards Easter – with the suspension of Weekend and Weekday Masses, Penitential Services, and many other rituals – we should still get ourselves spiritually prepared. We should read and reflect on the daily readings given by the Church. The Lenten readings are different from Ordinary Time readings, where they progress each day according to the books or prophets or epistles as the 1st or 2nd readings. The Gospel progresses consecutively according to the A, B or C circles. During Lent, we notice the readings tend to jump from various books or prophets or epistle and we may be able to see patterns which lead us towards the Paschal Mystery – Jesus’ Passion, death and resurrection. The readings prepare us for our repentance and conversion.
While everyone anticipates that the number of COVID-19 cases will increase, we, Malaysians should give many thanks to our hospital personnel, doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are working tirelessly, doing their best to help and protect everyone from this epidemic. These past weeks, the Catholic Church has continuously prayed for all these people and for those who are suffering from this virus.
On Thursday, 19 March 2020, the Church will celebrate the feast of St Joseph, the husband of Blessed Virgin Mary. He is also known as “a good and upright man”, inviting us to place our trust in God and not be afraid (Luke 12:5).
From this weekend (14 -15 March) until the end of March 2020, the statutes of St Joseph and Mother Mary will be placed at the sanctuary in our Church. During this period of suspension of Masses and throughout the remaining days of Lent, we invite parishioners to come individually or with the family to venerate and pray to Mother Mary and St. Joseph for protection and healing from this COVID-19 crisis.
(This Prayer will be placed at the Sanctuary for your meditation)
Prayer to Mary during coronavirus pandemic
O Mary, you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the Cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin. (Pope Francis, March 2020)
Rev. Fr. George P.