Safe, sign of God’s mercy, and setting good examples
Our dear senior churchgoers,
I am writing to you as you stay home and watch our Holy Mass through live streaming. This is one of the things considered to be your “new normal.” As mandated by the Inter Agency Task Force on Covid-19 Pandemic, senior citizens are not allowed to go out of the house to attend mass gatherings, including other religious services.
Only the doors of our Churches are closed. Celebrations of the Holy Eucharist continue, with the participants limited to ten people and between the ages of twenty and sixty years old.
I know how and what you feel. You want to be physically present, to attend and to commune; not just to watch virtually nor from a distance. We know well from our catechesis that the Holy Eucharist is present, alive, and communal. But here we are, separated by the dangerous and devastating Coronavirus.
Yet we have to follow what the IATF tells us to do. Why do we have to follow the directives of staying at home and not go out even to attend the Holy Mass? For me, there are three important reasons to reflect on. What are these?
Safety for all
Showcase of God’s mercy
Setting a good example
One, it is for the safety of all. To stay at home is to make us safe from being contaminated or get someone contaminated. Coronavirus is our enemy that we cannot see. It thrives and hides in the crowd. We all have become the unknowing and unwilling prey of this virus. Coronavirus does not choose who to infect. It is not selective. Lahat ay kanyang lalapitan, kakapitan, at hahawahan. No one is exempted and excluded. And we, the senior citizens, are the most prone and vulnerable to this.
So, we have to be safe. Stay away from the crowd and avoid congested places. It is safer to stay and remain at home. It is our safety, our refuge, and our line of defense from this Covid-19.
Yes, it can be boring to stay at home but it’s better to be safe than sorry and have regrets afterwards. Isn’t it a blessing to have a home and be at home? Isn’t it the most gratifying experience to spend time at home with those who are dear and near to our hearts?
When boredom sets in, take recourse to family storytelling of your struggles and successes, of your ups and downs, of your best efforts and blessings. At home, do something together to discover and foster each other’s talents such as: baking, painting, or making designs. Introduce to your children your childhood games such as dama, chess, and sungka.
To stay at home is not only for our safety but much more for others safety too. It is our service to others in saving them from being contaminated. We are sparing them from possible sickness from Coronavirus.
Stay at home is best described on the billboard along EDSA which says “#walang iwanan, #walang hawahan.”
Two, it is a visible sign, a showcase of God’s mercy. God understands our situation and accepts our predicaments. He sympathizes with us. He always does something for our own good and safety.
With God’s mercy, He excuses us from attending the Sunday Holy Masses. The third Commandment impels us to “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you will labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath for Yahweh your God.” (Exodus 20:8-10). Yes, we must attend the Holy Mass on Sundays but with the prevailing danger of sickness and death from Covid-19, our Almighty God, in His goodness and love, abstains us from fulfilling our Sunday obligations.
To our God, what matters is our safety. He wants us to live soundly and healthy. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons says: “the glory of God is man fully alive.” So, it is God’s desire that we live to the fullest of our capability. Our main concern here is that we take good care of ourselves and of others in order to survive. We have to save ourselves. And one of the surest and easiest means is to stay at home.
In this troubling time of Covid-19 pandemic, mass gatherings are prohibited. Holy Mass live streaming suffices our Sunday obligations. Our home is now our domestic church. God is with us and resides in our household. We are in communion with God, along with our family members, in the confinement of our homes.
God always provides ways and means for us. Currently, He is using the Holy Mass live streaming to reach us, be near us and in spiritual communion with Him. God is never distant from us. He has turned our home into His dwelling place and makes Himself as part and member of our household.
Think about it, isn’t it God’s mercy that He leads us now to speak to Him and share about Him with our family members? Isn’t that God’s way of demonstrating His love that our houses are now open as His altar, as His Upper Room?
To stay at home is to see God in our home and in our family. It is also to share and serve Him within our family members.
Lastly, stay at home is setting a good example not only to our children but especially to the grandchildren. We do not only give orders but likewise, we follow them. We set rules and observe them as well. We, too, are obedient. We submit ourselves and give due respect. We are humble to accept and follow what we are asked to do.
Our children care for us. They worry about us and will see to it that we are safe and well-protected. They advise what is best and most safe for us. During this Covid-19 pandemic, let us listen to them and those who are in authority who urge us to stay home for it is very beneficial to us . When we heed their call, we show how much we value their concern, how much we trust them, and how much we hope and rely on them.
Our dearest senior churchgoers, patience is your most lived virtue. You have been patient as you reared and nursed us in our early childhood. Day in and day out, without any complaints, you untiringly watched over us, prepared our meals, and waited on us. You patiently listened, taught, and accepted us again and again. Now with this stay at home, your patience is being asked from you.
Let us be patient once more. With God’s power and manifesting glory, this Covid-19 pandemic will surely come to pass. God will grant the necessary cure. He will help us. Our almighty God will bring us healing. We will wake up and realize that all is well. We will see our Churches are opened again. We can come and celebrate the Holy Mass together. And truly, our Holy Mass is eucharistia , that is, thanksgiving.
We are thankful to God in the Holy Eucharist that through Him and with Him, we are safe. We surpass. We survive. We are alive.
Bishop of Balanga
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Pontificio Collegio Filippino