COVID-19 PANDEMIC: Bishop Ogun calls for faith and caution
The Spread of coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19, to different parts of the world has brought about thousands of death. Hundreds of thousands of other persons who tested positive to the virus are in isolation either at home or in the hospital undergoing one form of treatment or the other. As at today (Monday, 30th March 2020), there is no known vaccine/treatment for the virus. This being the case, the best way to curtail the damages the virus brings is to prevent its spread. This is the rationale behind social distancing that has become the best global practice at this moment of our history.
Leaders across the world have come up with legislations/directives to ensure this practice. In his Pastoral Letter to All Priests, Consecrated Persons and Laity of the Catholic Diocese of Uromi dated March 25th, 2020, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, Bishop of Uromi Diocese did not only adopt and promote social distancing in the pastoral directives he issued, he equally gave directives which will help the faithful to live this difficult moment of our history with faith and caution. Below is the full text of the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter.
Dearly beloved in Christ,
RE: COVID 19 ADVISORY: THE NEED FOR VIGILANCE
Sequel to our earlier letter dated March 20th, and in the light of Edo State Government efforts at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Nigeria, we issue the following pastoral directives;
- The public celebration of the Cathedraticum is suspended forthwith. Parish Priests will be communicated to from the Chancery as regards practical steps to transmit the gifts of the people to the proper channels.
- The Public celebration of the Holy Mass with a congregation is suspended for the time being. Priests are to celebrate Masses without congregation to pray for the needs of the Church and the world. They are also to make Holy Communion available to the faithful for at least two (2) specified hours a day (except on Sundays) and catechize their parishioners accordingly, that communion once a week suffices for Sunday. This is subject to further Government directives.
- The faithful are encouraged to increase family prayers, devotions, and celebration of the Word of God at this time, as well as to tune to Lumen Christi Television Network and EWTN channels to follow the Mass and then make an Act of Spiritual Communion.
- In line with the powers within the Bishop’s competence in such times, we hereby dispense all those who due to the above restrictions are unable to fulfil their obligations of attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
- Communion to the Sick is to be carried out with caution.
- The Chrism Mass celebration is deferred till the situation improves.
the directives from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of
the Sacraments, issued on 19th March, 2020, for the Easter Triduum,
we instruct that;
- The Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper is to be celebrated without the people, with the omission of the washing of the feet and the procession with the Blessed Sacrament at the end of the Mass.
- The Passion of the Lord on Good Friday is to be celebrated with only two lectors and two altar servers in the parish. It is not to be open to the public.
- The Easter Vigil is to be celebrated with only two lectors and two altar servers in the parish. The preparation and lighting of the fire is to be omitted.
- The Divine Mercy Pilgrimage is deferred till the situation improves.
- The Public Celebration of Burials and Marriages is suspended. In the case of burials, the internment is to be carried out by the priests and close family members of the deceased. As for marriages, in cases of urgent pastoral necessity, there can be exchange of vows with very few witnesses present.
- It is uncharitable and unchristian to spread ‘fake news’ and incorrect information about the COVID-19 virus at this time. We all are to use official Government Channels to enlighten ourselves about how best to cope with this situation.
- Self-medication is not advised. Kindly call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (080097000010) ifyou feel unwell, or the Edo State Helplines for COVID-19 matters (08084096723 / 08064258163 / 08035835529 / 08074132019) or go to the Hospital.
- Remember to always practice preventive actions at homes and offices and other places of business. Stay at home and avoid unnecessary movement. Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if soap is not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep social distance of at least six (6) feet and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
I encourage us all to pray the prayer against the Coronavirus. Always remember that “God is for us a refuge and strength, a helper close at hand in time of distress… the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold” (Ps 46: 1,7) May Mother Mary, continue to intercede for us all, and may God see us through this difficult time.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most. Rev. Donatus Ogun, OSA,
Bishop of Uromi Diocese
Addendum: In the light of new experiences, the Bishop, on Sunday, 29th of March 2020 directed that the giving of Holy Communion to the faithful daily should be stopped. Communion can now be given only to the sick in their homes while maintaining the required safety precautions.
My Jesus, I believe
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.