– Jasmin Yiu
For the spiritual benefit of the faithful, and in cooperation with the community’s ongoing infection prevention measures, the Catholic Diocese of Macau announced measures and arrangements for receiving the Holy Communion after live Sunday Mass broadcast (see page 12).
Last Sunday (Mar 22), two days after the new announcement was made, a number of Chinese locals went to different parishes, to receive the Holy Communion. At the Cathedral and St Lawrence Church, quite a number of people arrived to receive Holy Communion after the Cantonese Sunday Mass. Miss Chan, who went to St Lawrence Church, described the atmosphere as very good and peaceful, “after receiving Our Lord, since we are not allowed to enter the Church, some people would pray in front of the garden, especially at the statue of Our Lady.”
At Our Lady of Fatima Church and Taipa’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel, faithful are welcomed to enter the Church before receiving Holy Communion. Miss Lam, a parishioner at Fatima Church, said not many went for the Eucharist. “The priest did not start distributing at 10:30, therefore we prayed inside the church. He came at 10:45 in the end. But there were not many people, only around 30 faithful were there,” Miss Lam added.
Fr Lee In Ho, parish Priest of St Anthony Church told O CLARIM that most people are not aware of the Chancery Notice. “The Chancery Notice was out only for two days, some people may not know about the new arrangement, but next week we may have more people coming to receive Our Lord.”
He also believes that, since the Holy Mass is online, people only go to the church nearby. “Most of our parishioners are not living nearby, but they come just because they were baptized here. But now, since they are attending Mass at home, they may go to the church near their homes,” added Fr Lee.
Aside from Chinese community, not many English speakers went to the designated churches. Ayra, who went to St Augustine Church, said that not many went for communion. She said, “I usually go to the Pastoral Center, only since last week I was not able to go because of my work, so I went to St Augustine Church. Most of my friends said they were not well informed about the arrangement, so we are trying to reach out to all faithful about this good news amidst this crisis.”
According to the information provided by Fr Ryan June Real, SOLT, less than 20 people received Holy Communion in the morning and only five people went in the afternoon. Like Ayra, Fr Real believes that people are not well informed because of the very short notice. Moreover, there is the inconvenience of time because of the time limit of distribution. Moreover, most domestic workers, who live with their employers, are not allowed to go out.
Sanel D., a Philippino who has lived in Macau for 13 years, went to the Cathedral with his wife. He thanked the local Church for the reopening of churches. “I normally go to Don Bosco on Sundays. The Holy Communion is always the hindrance and reason for going to the church. We are very fortunate that the churches are now opened during weekdays. Now I also go to daily masses on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.”
The couple went for confession, and they said the sacrament is very important to them, especially during Lent. “It is very important to wash away our sins and to prepare ourselves during this crisis. I am happy to know the reopening of churches, so we can renew our zeal for the Eucharist in this season of Lent. It always gives us hope and assures us that everything will turn out good, and our faith will get stronger,” added Sanel.
Sanel’s wife Iza, who is now in her 7th month of pregnancy, admits that she was very worried and afraid of the virus, “especially because I am pregnant and I was planning to go back to the Philippines. But we always need to take a look at the positive side. COVID-19 gives us the time to meditate daily, to give more time to the Word of God, even in our house. If we look at the positive side, and keep practising our faith, there is no way to be afraid, but to keep our faith stronger.”