Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Saint March 19 : St. Joseph : Foster Father of Jesus - Patron of Engineers, Families, Unborn, Universal Church , Workers
March 19 is one of two feast days in the liturgical year where we remember Saint Joseph, husband of Mary, Mother of God, and foster father to Jesus. Saint Pope John Paul II said of Saint Joseph: “March 19, we will celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church. The extreme discretion with which Joseph carried out the role entrusted to him by God highlights his faith even more, which consisted in always listening to the Lord, seeking to understand his will and to obey it with his whole heart and strength. This is why the Gospel describes him as a "righteous" man (Mt 1,19). In fact, the just man is the person who prays, lives by faith, and seeks to do good in every concrete circumstance of life.”
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*******Joseph was a descendant of David, the king of Israel, and therefore of royal family. Joseph was a poor, working man, trained in carpentry. He was devout follower of Jewish law, he could only afford turtle doves, rather than the recommended lamb, for sacrifice at the circumcision of Jesus.
In the Scriptures, upon discovering that Mary was pregnant, but not realizing that she had miraculously conceived, Joseph planned to divorce her quietly.
In the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25 we read:
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." 24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
When he received the announcement from the angel of the Lord, Joseph followed his instructions, naming his new son Jesus on the eighth day after his birth. When the angel returned and told Joseph to flee to Egypt, he did so, traveling to a strange and foreign land. Joseph obeyed the angel when he told him to return, moving to Nazareth in Galilee. There, he worked as a carpenter, and we Jesus oftentimes assists him. When Jesus is twelve, and goes missing for three days in the temple, we find in scriptures that Joseph and Mary searched for Jesus with great anxiety.
Biblical historians and scholars agree that Joseph likely died sometime between Jesus’ twelfth and thirtieth birthday. Mary is described as widowed by the time Jesus begins His public ministry.
Saint Brigid of Sweden said of Saint Joseph:
"St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods, which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven that he ever repeated" May the Will of God ever be done in me!" He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God, whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great glory in Heaven."
Saint Joseph utters no recorded words in the Bible. Apart form Mary, Joseph is the individual who spent the most time with our living Lord. We can we use the life of Saint Joseph as a model for our own, in answering the call of the Lord.
Ancient Powerful Prayer to St. Joseph
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never grow weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.
Text edited from 365 Rosaries Blog
Catholic Nun Dies trying to Rescue her Students from Explosion at School in Nigeria - RIP Sr.Henrietta
AFRICA/NIGERIA - Religious dies in the flames after rescuing students
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Lagos (Agenzia Fides) - Sr.Henrietta Alokha, an administrator at Bethlehem Girls College, Abule Ado, Amuwo Odofin local government area of Lagos state lost her life in the explosion which occurred on Sunday Sunday, March 15. While Holy Mass was being celebrated in the school, a strong explosion occurred, heard even miles away, and a violent fire broke out which seriously damaged homes and buildings in the surroundings. Sister Henrietta rescued all the children under her care from the explosion and could not make it herself.
According to information collected by Fides, in fact, the terrible explosion occurred in a gas treatment plant, caused by the impact of a truck with a deposit of gas cylinders. A fire then broke out which destroyed about fifty buildings and the school in the neighborhood where the religious was administrator. The first official estimates, still provisional, speak of about fifteen deaths, while the rubble continues to be removed.
The Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, said that Sister Henrietta, who died in the explosion, "paid the supreme price of her offer to ensure the safety of over 300 students under her responsibility" and denied the hypothesis that even a priest had died in the explosion. The priest in fact managed to rescue the students and save himself. "We want to inform that all the students of the school are safe and sound. Those who suffered injuries were promptly assisted in various hospitals in the surroundings", he wrote. The Archbishop also informs that the education department together with the administrators of other archdiocesan schools, are considering how students from Bethlehem Girls College can be accommodated in other schools so as not to stop their lessons. Mgr. Martins expresses his closeness to the families of those who have died, prays for the healing of the wounded and prays to the Lord to provide to the needs of all those who have lost their properties.
Sister Henrietta belonged to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart (SSH), the first indigenous religious order in the Mid-West region of Nigeria, founded by Archbishop Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, Emeritus Archbishop of Benin City, on April 6, 1975. The Congregation was not founded for a specific ministry, but to respond to the needs of the Church where they emerge and wherever they appear. The religious are committed to eliminating the root causes of poverty, for the enhancement of women, for the realization of peace, justice, love and unity of all creation. The motto of the Congregation is "Ut unum sint" (Jn 17.21), it is present in Nigeria, in Italy and in the United States. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 17/3/2020)
Pope Francis says "We live in mercy... it is the air to breathe." and Calls All to Unite in Rosary Prayer - Full Text- Video
Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We dwell today on the fifth beatitude, which says: "Blessed are the merciful, because they will find mercy" (Mt 5,7). In this bliss there is a particularity: it is the only one in which the cause and the fruit of happiness coincide, mercy. Those who exercise mercy will find mercy, they will be "merciful".
This theme of reciprocity of forgiveness is not only present in this bliss, but is recurrent in the Gospel. And how could it be otherwise? Mercy is the very heart of God! Jesus says: «Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven "(Lk 6,37). Always the same reciprocity. And the Letter of James states that "mercy always has the upper hand over judgment" (2:13).
But it is above all in the Our Father that we pray: "Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors" (Mt 6:12); and this question is the only resumption at the end: "If in fact you forgive others their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins "(Mt 6: 14-15; cf Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2838).
There are two things that cannot be separated: forgiveness given and forgiveness received. But many people are in trouble, they can't forgive. So many times the evil received is so great that being able to forgive seems like climbing a very high mountain: an enormous effort; and one thinks: one cannot, this one cannot. This fact of reciprocity of mercy indicates that we need to reverse the perspective. Alone we cannot, it takes God's grace, we must ask for it. In fact, if the fifth beatitude promises to find mercy and in the Our Father we ask for the remission of debts, it means that we are essentially debtors and we need to find mercy!
We are all indebted. All. To God, who is so generous, and to brothers. Every person knows he is not the father or mother he should be, the groom or bride, the brother or sister he should be. We are all "in deficit" in life. And we need mercy. We know that we too have done wrong, there is always something missing from the good that we should have done.
But precisely this poverty of ours becomes the force to forgive! We are indebted and if, as we heard at the beginning, we will be measured by the measure with which we measure others (cf.Lk 6:38), then we should broaden the measure and forgive the debts, forgive. Everyone must remember that they need to forgive, need forgiveness, need patience; this is the secret of mercy: by forgiving one is forgiven. Therefore God precedes us and forgives us first (cf Rom 5: 8). By receiving his forgiveness, we in turn become capable of forgiving. Thus one's own misery and lack of justice become an opportunity to open up to the kingdom of heaven, to a greater extent, the measure of God, which is mercy.
Where does our mercy come from? Jesus said to us: "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). The more you accept the love of the Father, the more you love (cf CCC, 2842). Mercy is not one dimension among others, but it is the center of Christian life: there is no Christianity without mercy.  If all our Christianity does not lead us to mercy, we have taken the wrong road, because mercy is the only true goal of every spiritual journey. It is one of the most beautiful fruits of charity (cf. CCC, 1829).
I remember that this theme was chosen from the first Angelus that I had to say as Pope: mercy. And this has remained very impressed on me, like a message that as Pope I should have always given, a message that must be everyday: mercy. I remember that day I also had the somewhat "shameless" attitude of advertising a book on mercy, just published by Cardinal Kasper. And that day I felt so strong that this is the message that I must give, as Bishop of Rome: mercy, mercy, please, forgiveness.
God's mercy is our deliverance and our happiness. We live in mercy and we cannot afford to be without mercy: it is the air to breathe. We are too poor to lay conditions, we need to forgive, because we need to be forgiven. Thank you!
 See St. John Paul II, Enc. Dives in misericordia (30 November 1980); Bolla Misericordae Vultus (April 11, 2015); Lett. Ap. Misericordia et misera (20 November 2016).
* * ******************
I cordially greet the Italian-speaking faithful, with a special thought for the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
Tomorrow we will celebrate the solemnity of Saint Joseph. In life, work, family, joy and pain he has always sought and loved the Lord, deserving the praise of Scripture as a just and wise man. Always invoke him with confidence, especially in difficult moments and entrust your existence to this great Saint.
I make my own the appeal of the Italian Bishops who in this health emergency have promoted a moment of prayer for the whole country. Every family, every faithful, every religious community: all united spiritually tomorrow at 9 pm in the recitation of the Rosary, with the Mysteries of light. I will accompany you from here. Mary, Mother of God, health of the sick, leads us to the luminous and transfigured face of Jesus Christ and to her Heart, to whom we turn with the prayer of the Rosary, under the loving gaze of St. Joseph, Custodian of the Holy Family and our families. . And we ask him to take special care of our family, our families, especially the sick and the people who are taking care of the sick: the doctors, nurses, nurses, volunteers, who risk their lives in this service.
Grettings in Various Languages:
Je salue cordialement les fidèles de langue française. Chers frères et sœurs, en ce temps du Carême, je vous invite particulièrement à recevoir le pardon de Dieu dans le sacrement de la Réconciliation. Vous y trouverez aussi la force de pardonner à votre tour. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
[I cordially greet the French-speaking faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, especially in this period of Lent, I invite you to receive God's forgiveness in the sacrament of Reconciliation. You will also find the strength to forgive in your turn. God bless you.]
I greet the English-speaking faithful joining us through the media, as we continue on our Lenten journey towards Easter. Upon you and your families, I invoke the strength and peace that come from our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!
Herzlich grüße ich die Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache. In der Fastenzeit sind wir in besonderer Weise aufgerufen, die Haltung der Barmherzigkeit einzuüben. Dies ist entscheidend für uns als Christen: dass wir die Demut besitzen, um Vergebung zu bitten, und die Großherzigkeit, Vergebung zu gewähren.
[I cordially greet the German-speaking brothers and sisters. In Lent we are called in a particular way to cultivate the attitude of mercy. This is fundamental for us Christians: having the humility to ask for forgiveness and the generosity to grant it to others.]
Saludo cordialmente a los fieles de lengua española, que siguen esta catequesis a través de los medios de comunicación. Pidamos al Señor que, en este momento particularmente difícil para todos, podamos redescubrir dentro de nosotros su Presencia que nos ama y nos sostiene, y de ese modo ser portadores de su ternura a cuantos nos rodean, con obras de cercanía y de bien. Que Dios los bendiga.
Queridos ouvintes de língua portuguesa, a todos vos saúdo e encorajo no caminho quaresmal que nos é proposto, embora num modo um pouco diverso do que era habitual nos demais anos. Mas Deus, Pai de Misericórdia, sabe-o! Desejo-vos um caminho abençoado, que vos permita seguir e imitar mais de perto Jesus, a Misericórdia divina em pessoa. E possais assim dizer, como São Paulo, «já não sou eu que vivo, é Cristo que vive em mim». Sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a bênção do Senhor.
[Dear Portuguese-speaking listeners, I greet and encourage all of you on the Lenten journey that is proposed to us, albeit in a slightly different way than usual in other years. But God, Father of Mercy, knows it! I wish you a blessed journey that allows you to follow and imitate Jesus, the divine Mercy in person, more closely. And so you can say, like Saint Paul, "it is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me". May the blessing of the Lord come upon you and your families.]
أُحيِّي جميع المؤمنينَ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزاء، لقد فتح الله لنا باب رحمته منذ أن خلقنا. علينا نحن أيضًا أن نفتح باب الرحمة فينا للجميع، لأنه الباب الذي يدخل منه الله ليمنحنا غفرانه وبركاته. ليبارككم الرب جميعًا ويحرسكم دائمًا من الشرير!
[I greet all the Arabic-speaking faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, God has opened the door of His mercy to us since He created us. We must open the door of mercy towards everyone, because God enters it to give us His forgiveness and His blessings. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from the evil one!]
Pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich Polaków. Czas Wielkiego Postu zaprasza nas do refleksji nad tajemnicą Bożego Miłosierdzia. Otrzymując Je możemy nauczyć się jak we właściwy sposób przebaczać i miłować naszych braci. Gotowość do przebaczania niech będzie dla Was nie tylko postanowieniem wielkopostnym, ale również stałym usposobieniem w Waszym chrześcijańskim postępowaniu. Z serca Wam błogosławię.[I cordially greet all the Poles. Lenten time invites us to reflect on the mystery of God's mercy. By receiving it, we can learn the right way to forgive and love our brothers. The readiness to forgive becomes for all of you not only a Lenten commitment, but a constant attitude of Christian behavior. I bless you from my heart.]
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
Latest Directives from Archbishop of Sydney - A Call for Prayer and Churches remain Open "...I entrust our Archdiocese and our nation to the intercession of Our Lady.."
Pastoral Letter to the Pastors and People of the Archdiocese of Sydney
in a Time of Pandemic 18 March 2020
Drought, fires, storms and now plague. It can feel like the end of the world is coming.
In a sense it is. The world as we know it is being turned upside down – at least temporarily –
as many get sick and some die from COVID-19, and so much of ordinary life is put on hold.
The Church is not immune. I was recently tested for COVID-19 and put into self-isolation
myself and, though happily I tested negative, I know the disruption and anxiety people are
But in times like these it’s important not to panic or lose heart. If this pandemic shakes us up
and starts us thinking about who or what’s most important to us and what we should be doing
with our lives, that can be a good thing.
Worshipping in spirit and in truth
One of the great Lent gospels is the story of the woman at the well. The woman asked some
questions about worship. ‘The hour is coming,’ Jesus answered her, ‘indeed it is here already,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’ (Jn 4:23)
What does that require of us at present? Several instructions have already come from health
authorities and the Church. Outside gatherings of more than 500 people and indoors
gatherings of 100 have been forbidden; in due course the public celebration of Mass may
have to be suspended.
Individuals have already been asked, before attending liturgical celebrations, to consider their
own health – both their potential to infect others and their susceptibility to infection.
Parishioners or clergy who feel unwell or have flu-like symptoms should remain at home.
Please be assured that the rest of us will be praying for you.
With this letter I am today issuing some new directives for the celebration of the sacraments
and pastoral care in the Archdiocese during this pandemic.
The Church in Australia was founded at a time when the Mass could not be celebrated on
these shores and our forefathers and mothers waited for years to receive the Holy Eucharist.
For us it will be at worst a matter of weeks or months. But just as prayer sustained them
through those times, so can it for us today.
We are now all going on retreat together
Our enforced retreat from the world can be an opportunity to grow closer to God and more
People were greatly edified by recent images of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage on foot through the
empty streets of Rome to the image of Our Lady of Health. Let’s join him, then, in prayer and
fasting for those who have died or are suffering from COVID-19, those at risk or anxious,
those treating the sick or seeking a cure, as well as those who are leading us. The power of
prayer, married with the wisdom of health experts, will ease and hopefully eliminate this
I ask that, as far as possible, churches remain open at this time to signal our continuing
availability and as an incentive to private prayer. The Blessed Sacrament might at times be
exposed in the monstrance for this purpose. Prayers of intercession for an end to the epidemic
and for the safety of all should be included in Masses, the Divine Office, as well as private
prayers. I ask consecrated religious to redouble their intercessory prayers for us all.
Continued pastoral care of the sick
Please be assured that any Catholic who contracts COVID-19 will as far as possible be
assisted by our clergy with the sacraments and other pastoral care. It’s at times like these that
our pastors really shine.
Clergy will continue attending the sick, elderly and incarcerated to provide Confession,
Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion and other pastoral care, unless they are themselves
at risk of transmitting the virus. All ministers should follow precautions recommended by
health authorities when visiting people’s homes, aged care facilities, hospitals, prisons and
Where a priest tests positive for COVID-19 or is required to self-isolate, every effort will be
made to find a supply priest to take his place. In some places the cancellation of Masses may
be required and/or provision of a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Holy Communion.
Even if physical distancing is sometimes desirable, ‘social distancing’ is never so. We all
need human company. So in addition to the sacramental care provided by parishes, healthy
young volunteers and others should consider prudent ways to check in with the sick, frail
elderly or otherwise isolated to inquire whether they have particular needs – for groceries,
medicine, pastoral care or simple company. Individuals could cook meals and deliver them to
the doorsteps of those in isolation. Modern technologies can also assist in overcoming some
people’s sense of isolation.
To help people maintain their physical health and spiritual life through this crisis, we have a
page on our archdiocesan website. For latest updates, prayers and spiritual resources, and to
watch Mass online visit https://www.sydneycatholic.org/coronavirus-updates/.
In this difficult time I entrust our Archdiocese and our nation to the intercession of Our Lady,
Help of Christians, of Lourdes, and of Good Health. God bless you all.
Yours sincerely in Christ
(Most Rev.) Anthony Fisher OP
DIRECTIONS FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY FROM 18 MARCH 2020 UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
18 MAR 2020
Addresses and Statements Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
With respect to the Celebration of Mass and other Liturgies
Many people are already self-selecting to stay at home and attendance at many Masses will predictably be under 100. But for the sake of caution during this time of pandemic and on the advice of the Bishops Conference, the following directions will be observed in the Archdiocese of Sydney:
-no indoor Mass or Church event should be conducted with more than 100 attendees; no outdoor event for more than 500 people
-if more than 100 attendees might be expected for an indoor Mass or other Church event, it should be cancelled, postponed, ticketed, moved outside or split over two or more time-slots or venues (linked by live-stream and provision of Holy Communion)
-priests are thus granted permission to celebrate multiple Sunday Masses as necessary
-holy water should be removed from all stoups but still to be available for taking home
alcohol-based gels (or the like) should be available near church entrances, confessionals, baptisteries and in the sanctuary
-attendees should be encouraged to spread out around the church(‘physical distancing’)
-all ministers of Holy Communion should disinfect their hands before and after distributing
-in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, the Body of Christ should only be administered in the hand and the Chalice should only be received by the celebrant, with any concelebrants intincting from a second chalice
-the Sign of Peace should be omitted or limited to saying ‘Peace be with you’ with a nod or bow; no hand-shaking or hand-holding should occur here or at the Our Father
-hymn books should not be used
-collection plates should not be passed from person to person; baskets on long handles, leaving --collection bowls or electronic ‘tap and go’ terminals may be used and direct debit encouraged
Apart from Mass…
Whether or not public Masses continue to be celebrated the following directives are also issued:
-as far as possible, churches should remain open to allow private prayer; the Blessed Sacrament might be exposed in the monstrance for this purpose (as long as fewer than 100 are attending and with the usual provisions for reverence and security of the Sacrament)
-on some days when this is liturgically permitted (see Ordo pp. 10-11), priests should offer the Mass for the Sick, the Mass for Any Need or a votive Mass such as that of Our Lady of Lourdes
-prayers of intercession for an end to the pandemic and for the safety of all should be included in Masses, in the Divine Office, and in private prayers; houses of consecrated religious are asked to redouble their intercessory prayers also
-Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals may be celebrated, if necessary restricted to immediate family; baptisms and weddings can, of course, be postponed
-preparation for and celebration of First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation for children should be postponed until the pandemic is over
-all ministers should follow precautions recommended by health authorities when visiting people’s homes, aged care facilities, hospitals, prisons and detention centres
-when Anointing the Sick, priests are given permission to lay on hands by holding them above rather than upon the head and to anoint using a cotton wool ball or bud or a protective glove which can be disposed of appropriately after a single use; anointing the head would be sufficient
-priests will abide by all civil restrictions while seeking to be as pastorally available and creative as possible in the circumstances; they should ensure that parishioners can contact them in emergencies.
If the Public Celebration of Mass is eventually suspended
If the public celebration of the Mass is eventually suspended, the following additional directions will be observed in the Archdiocese of Sydney:
-all but priests are dispensed from attending Sunday Mass: the faithful can keep holy their Sunday by setting aside some time for prayer at home, reading the Scriptures of the day, watching Mass on television or online, and asking God for the graces they would normally receive in Holy Communion
priests should celebrate daily Mass privately and offer it on behalf of those who cannot attend and for the whole nation
-churches should as far as possible remain open for private prayer
-the Second and Third Rites of Reconciliation should not be used; First Rite Confessions should only be heard through a grill covered with a protective cloth
-priests should consider continuing to publish their weekly parish bulletin on-line with advice and a weekly homily/reflection
-Sunday Mass and Holy Week services will be celebrated privately at the cathedral and be live-streamed or available on demand at at https://www.stmaryscathedral.org.au/
-Further instructions will be issued by the Liturgy Office regarding Baptisms of several children, the RCIA and the various rites of the Triduum (if these go ahead).
These directives will be reviewed as required.
(Most Rev.) Anthony Fisher OP
Archbishop of Sydney
Bishops of Canada release Statement "The spread of the COVID-19 virus is a moment for Catholics to offer special prayers of intercession for the healing of those infected..."
Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Friday, March 13 2020
A unique and special time for prayer, hope and care
Together with all Canadians, the Catholic Bishops of Canada are following with deep concern the current developments in Canada and throughout the world regarding the rapid global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which can in certain cases be the cause of serious illness and even death.
The pandemic is now also spreading across Canada. This new virus is understandably a source of anxiety and fear for many. Practical information on responding to the virus and mitigating its spread is available from local public health officials, as well as from the federal and provincial governments, and should be heeded. Catholic faithful are invited to consult their local diocesan/eparchial websites for the preventive measures to be followed for pastoral care and liturgies. Concern for each person and the common good must always be paramount.
As Catholics, we see in every illness a reminder of our own mortality, as well as an invitation to share in Christ’s ministry of healing. In the face of suffering and sickness, Christians are to be credible witnesses to the Lord’s enduring love, providence and power in our midst. His mercy and care are always present and available.
We will soon be celebrating Easter – Christ’s triumph over death as the Lord of life and the source of ever-lasting hope. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is a moment for Catholics to offer special prayers of intercession for the healing of those infected, for the protection of the elderly and infirm who are at greatest risk, for the prevention of the disease’s spread, and for the courage and strength of care providers who minister to the sick, their families and those most in need.
In keeping with Our Lord’s teaching, and as part of the sacred tradition for Lent, it is appropriate whenever possible that our prayer be strengthened by fasting, by other expressions of Christian charity or works of spiritual and corporal mercy.
We entrust our country and especially those affected, as well as their loved ones and caretakers, to the powerful and maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and ours.
13 March 2020
Bishops of Poland Pray LIVE Daily Rosary Online for End to Pandemic and Keep Churches Open encouraging Online Mass and Prayers
The Church facing pandemic: millions of people pray online
TV, radio and online broadcasts of the Holy Mass, prayer of the Rosary at 8.30 p.m. for an end of the pandemic and Internet retreats – these are some of the initiatives taken by the Church in Poland due to the ongoing epidemic emergency in Poland and the reduction of the number of people in churches. All dioceses have been involved in the on-line initiatives – says Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, the spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
In the Order of the Permanent Council of the Polish Episcopate issued on March 12, the bishops encouraged people – who during a pandemic take advantage of the dispensation and do not participate in the Masses – to spiritual unity with the community of the Church through radio, television or Internet broadcasts. “Thanks to the broadcasts, the faithful from all over Poland, as well as Poles abroad, can unite spiritually in both Sunday and daily prayer” – emphasizes Fr. Rytel-Andrianik.
The broadcasts of Sunday Masses can be followed in the state television station TVP and TRWAM Television, Polsat. Last Sunday these broadcasts attracted almost five million believers. The broadcasts of Sunday Masses are also carried out in the Polish radio as well as diocesan and local radio stations.
The broadcasts include Holy Masses from i.a. the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Łagiewniki, daily Eucharist from the Chapel of Our Lady of Jasna Góra. At 8 p.m. there is a Holy Mass celebrated for the sick, physicians, medical staff and sanitary services and for an end of the coronavirus epidemic.
As encouraged by the President of the Polish Episcopate, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, every day at 8.30 p.m. there is a prayer of the rosary for an end of the pandemic. At this time, clergy and consecrated persons pray in churches, in spiritual communion with the lay faithful, who continue to pray at home. In order to facilitate this, broadcasts of this prayer are also available on the Internet.
In connection with the ongoing Lent and the cancellation of parish retreats, there are proposals for Internet retreats in the social media, and above all on the Internet. These are preached, among others, by Polish bishops.
“This year’s Lent is special. It is a fast from large gatherings on prayer, but not from prayer. People have spiritual needs and the media meet them through broadcasts and online prayer proposals. However, prayer in the virtual world should lead us to pray in sacramental reality as soon as the pandemic stops, for which we pray” – says the spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference
Full Text Source: https://episkopat.pl/the-church-facing-pandemic-millions-of-people-pray-online/
Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Sako launches appeal: "Do not go out, stay at home" and "I invite you to follow through electronic media"
Coronavirus, Chaldean patriarch launches appeal: "Do not go out, stay at home"
Card. Sako speaks of "a tragic and difficult moment", invitation to adhere to prevention and containment measures. The vicar of southern Arabia suspends masses for a month in the Emirates and Oman. In Bahrain the first victim of Covid-19 among the Gulf countries.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "We are experiencing a tragic and difficult moment" due to the rapid spread of coronavirus in many countries, with "a continuous increase in victims" and serious damage to economic and social life, while "panic and anxiety" spread, writes the Chaldean primate card Louis Raphael Sako.
In a message sent to AsiaNews he also launches an appeal to the faithful: “The epidemic - he writes - should not be underestimated, one must follow prevention methods, the first of which is stay at home".
For some time the Chaldean Church has been implementing safety measures in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic, defined by Baghdad's auxiliary as "worse than a war". Hence the cancellation of masses, their broadcast on social networks, and of the main functions of the Lenten period.
Due to the lack of "rigid measures" to contain the spread of the virus "such as the closure of borders or the placing of people in quarantine", the epidemic is spreading with 154 cases, 11 victims and 32 people recovered.
The Cardinal continues, it is important to "stay home" without waiting for the government ban on circulation. "Do not leave your house - warns the cardinal - if not when necessary" and within the home walls pray "for the end of the epidemic" by lighting "a candle in front of the icon of the Virgin Mary" or "Saint Joseph on his feast on 19 March" as requested by Pope Francis.
For the victims, concludes Card Sako, "there are no funerals or public masses", the body "is brought to church with a limited number of people", the priest prays then it is taken to the cemetery. The public mass "can be celebrated at the end of the crisis", while "we of the Patriarchate will remember the name of the dead in the eight o'clock morning mass, which is broadcast live".
The coronavirus emergency does not only concern Iraq (and Iran, the epicenter of the epidemic) but is spreading throughout the Middle East.
Apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (Eau, Oman and Yemen), Msgr. Paul Hinder, accepted the invitation of the authorities and suspended prayer services and masses in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, also arranging the closure of the places of worship. The provisions entered into force on March 16 and will last for at least a month, pending verification of developments on the spread of the epidemic.
In a note Msgr. Hinder points out that the government "has taken these steps to protect people" and "I myself am the first to support them strongly" to limit the circulation of the new coronavirus.
"We must understand - added the prelate - the criticality of the situation". As I wrote earlier, "even if you cannot be physically present, all of you can participate spiritually in the Eucharist" which "I invite you to follow through electronic media".
Meanwhile, the toll and death toll continues to rise in the region: Iran, the hardest hit nation, has counted another 135 victims in the last 24 hours. According to the Ministry of Health, there are over 16 thousand confirmed cases of infection. Tehran has freed 85,000 prisoners to prevent a spread of the virus in prisons; among these also dozens of political prisoners but not high profile ones: the personalities of greatest threat to theocratic leadership remain in prison.
In Turkey, the government has identified 93 people suspected of disseminating "provocative and baseless information" online. Ankara has ordered the closure of cafes, sports clubs and entertainment centers, suspended prayer services in mosques and extended the ban on entry to 20 countries. The number of cases has risen to 98 and the first victim is registered. Returning citizens from nine European countries will have to undergo quarantine.
In Qatar there are 439 cases, zero victims and four recovered. Saudi Arabia has ordered the closure of all mosques, with the exception of the two most important in Mecca and Medina. In the Wahhabi kingdom there are 171 infections, zero victims and six people recovered. The only nation to have registered a death so far is Bahrain, with a total of 227 cases. Jordan finally announced starting today the ban on moving between provinces and invites citizens to stay home.
Full Text Source: AsiaNewsIT
Pope Francis Prays for those who have Died from Covid-19 at Mass saying “God humiliates Himself to walk with us, to help us”,
Pope at Mass prays for those who have died because of the virus
The intention for Pope Francis’ Mass celebrated on Wednesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta is for those who died because of the virus, especially health care providers, “who have given their life in service of the sick”.
By Vatican News
“Today we pray for the deceased, those who have died because of the virus”, Pope Francis began the liturgy on Wednesday morning in the Casa Santa Marta chapel. He then continued asking that we pray with him for “for health care providers who have given their life in service for the sick”.
During the homily, he reflected on both readings of the day which, he said, focus on the law.
The way God gives the law
Both readings focus on the law, Pope Francis began his homily: “the law that God wanted to give us” and which “Jesus wanted to bring to its ultimate perfection”. What drew the Pope’s attention was “the way God gives the law”. In fact, Moses marvels at how near God is and that no other nation “has its God so near as the Lord our God is whenever we call to Him”, Pope Francis quoted.
“The Lord gives His people the law by drawing near to them. They weren't prescriptions given by a far-off governor who then distances himself or of a dictator. …. And we know through revelation that it was the paternal nearness of a father accompanying His people, giving them the gift of the law. A God who is near….
Listen to our report
God walked with His people
The Pope continued saying that God protects His people on their journey through the desert through the cloud and the pillar of fire. God journeys with His people, he said.
“He is not a God who leaves the prescriptions of the law in writing and then goes His own way. He writes the prescriptions with His own hand on the rock. Then He gives them, hands them over to Moses. He doesn't give them and then go on His own way.”
God draws near, we hide
Pope Francis then reflected on the tendency that humans have which is demonstrated on the first pages of the Bible. The more God draws near, the more we tend to distance ourselves from Him. The first way of distancing ourselves is to hide ourselves, the second is killing others as Cain did, he said.
“Sin leads us to hide ourselves, to not want nearness. So many times we adopt a theology thinking that He's a judge. And so I hide myself, I am afraid…. Two types of reaction that inhibit every type of nearness. Man rejects God’s nearness. He wants to be in control of relationships. And relationships always bring with them some type of vulnerability. God draws near making Himself weak. And the closer He comes, the weaker He seems to be. When He comes to live among us, He makes Himself man, one of us. He makes Himself weak. He bears that weakness even unto death, the most cruel death.”
God’s nearness demonstrates His humility. “God humiliates Himself to walk with us, to help us”, Pope Francis said. As Moses said, He is not a God somewhere up in the heavens. “He’s in the house”. Jesus shows us this. Jesus, God-made-man, “accompanies” His disciples, teaching them and “lovingly” correcting them. Jesus asks us to draw near to each other rather than to distance ourselves from each other.
Many ways of drawing near
Pope Francis said that there are many ways of drawing near to each other that are not physical in nature.
“In this moment of crisis because of the pandemic we are experiencing, this nearness asks to be manifested more… Perhaps we cannot draw near physically to others because of the fear of contagion, but we can reawaken in ourselves a habit of drawing near to others through prayer, through help. There are many ways of drawing near.”
God is near
The reason why we need to be near each other is because God made Himself near to accompany us. The “inheritance we have received from the Lord” is that we are neighbours, we do not live in isolation.
“Let’s ask the Lord the grace of being near to each other, not to hide ourselves from each other, not to wash our hands as Cain did….
FULL TEXT + Image Source: VaticanNews.va
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Reading 1DT 4:1, 5-9
Moses spoke to the people and said:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees
as the LORD, my God, has commanded me,
that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
Responsorial Psalm147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
He spreads snow like wool;
frost he strews like ashes.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Verse Before The GospelJN 6:63C, 68C
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”