These past weeks have been an unprecedented time of uncertainty for people throughout the world due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. In Malaysia, Churches suspended Masses and closed their doors even before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced. Since then, we Catholics have been following live-streamed masses from within our homes. Many of us have expressed our longing for the Eucharistic celebration – Jesus who is truly present in the Eucharist. However we are still under the movement restriction order – staying at home and doing our best while wisely spending time with God. We believe that this current crisis will surely – by the grace of God, come to an end soon, and we will return to our Church. Till then, just stay at home, stay healthy and stay fit!
I take my hat off to all of you, my dear Parishioners for staying in touch, interacting and supporting one another spiritually, physically and mentally. During this time of trial, we are “like sheep without a shepherd,” (Mk 6: 30-34) moving and wandering aimlessly within our four walls. Everyone loves Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. However, we are unable to celebrate this highest and most favourable of the liturgical celebrations in Church this year. Nevertheless, we are spiritually in communion with the Church, praying together with our families at home.
During Holy Week, starting from Palm Sunday and continuing until Easter Sunday, I decided to turn on the PA system to celebrate Mass at the Church altar together with our Sacristan, Joseph. On Easter Vigil night, I will play the recorded Exsultet (the Proclamation of Easter) and the Easter Alleluia proclamation in the Church, just to stimulate the heart of the Church and your hearts, so as to be in communion with the Church. Rev Fr Moses Rayappan, who will be con-celebrating with me on the Easter Vigil Mass, we will bless the whole church with the sprinkling of Holy Water, whilst imagining that you are all present, sitting in your usual pews with your respective families in church. You may be wondering why we do all these unnecessary things! Deep inside, I feel these gestures and actions will help to invigorate you to help keep your faith alive. I believe this will help to raise your spirits!
Once we are back again in Church, celebrating mass, we shall sing joyfully all the Easter hymns and proclaim the “Alleluia” with pride and joy. We will never get tired singing the “Alleluia”. The word “Alleluia” is a Hebrew word, meaning “Praise Yahweh”. It is proclaimed triumphantly at Easter Vigil – a term of great jubilation. I am eagerly waiting to hear “Alleluia” echoing through our Church and the bells tolling once again when all of you return to the Church of St. Joseph. Come back with all your hearts to express your conviction and your faith in the Risen Lord, and begin the mission of the Church. The Church is always on mission.
During this Coronavirus pandemic, we have not neglected the Church’s mission on outreach to the Little, the Lost, the Last, the Least and the Lonely (5Ls). For the past two Sundays, our Parish Ministry of the Poor (MOP) has carried out their mission of outreach towards the poor families. With the help of a few MOP members – Aloysius Anthony, Gabriel Moses, Teresa Shaun, Jacqueline Franciss, Dorothy Anthonysamy, George D’Cruz and also our Myanmar community coordinator, Bosco, we managed to reach out to almost 300 poor families (80 families who live in and around Sentul and 206 Myanmar families). We provided them with groceries and some money to them. This is only the first phase, and the second outreach will take place sometime towards the end of April 2020.
On Friday, the Prime Minister announced that the MCO has been further extended till 28 April 2020, and this may probably go on till May 2020. Many of us may be facing some kind of financial challenges ahead and many will lose jobs and their livelihood. Nevertheless, the Church mission continues and our outreach mission work towards the poor and the needy will never end. We must remember to support them the best we can, and to be more committed in our Church mission work. When we give joyfully and generously in the service of the Kingdom of God, in return God will bless us abundantly.
I wish to invite everyone to light candles at home, beginning from Easter Vigil right up to Easter Sunday, when you end with the Evening Prayer (Vespers – The Church Prayer) and family Rosary. Let us all be in solidarity with the world by fervently praying for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. I will play the Gregorian Chant in the Church immediately after Easter Sunday Mass and I will turn on the Gregorian Chant every day after my daily morning Mass throughout the Easter Octave (the eight-day period that starts on Easter and concludes on the following Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter).
We pray for the Grace of God and His holy intervention for the Coronavirus crisis to end soon and that God will give humanity, new hope and new life in the Risen Lord. Alleluia!
HAVE A PEACEFUL AND LOVELY EASTER WITH YOUR LOVED ONES. GOD’S BLESSINGS BE UPON ALL OF YOU.