It is a good time to pray, to foster dialogue among family members and for households to grow in spirituality. Covid-19-fuelled worries have been shadowing Macau for more than a week, demanding greater care and a significant dose of sacrifice from the local population. The demanding days that we are living, Father Daniel Ribeiro puts forth, should be seen by Catholics not merely as an ordeal but also as an opportunity.
Father Ribeiro, a Dehonian missionary, advises the faithful not only to keep following the Eucharistic celebrations through the online broadcasts made available to viewers by the Catholic Diocese of Macau, but also to make use of these challenging times to reinforce practices such as conversation and prayer within the family. “Churches will remain closed, following the requests that were made by the government. During this period, what sort of guidelines should Catholics follow? First and foremost, those that usually attend Mass should follow the online broadcast of the Eucharist. Secondly, they should make use of this moment in which they are closer to their families to pray, to dialogue and also to slow down and rest,” Father Ribeiro tells O Clarim. He continues, adding, “It is a moment that requires people to be more careful, but it’s at the same time an opportunity for families to grow in spirituality, in dialogue, in values that are central to our faith.”
The aggravation of the Covid-19 epidemic led the Catholic Diocese of Macau to suspend Masses and other public religious services, hours after the Special Administrative Region entered the state of immediate prevention. The decision forced the pastoral care of the Portuguese-speaking Catholic community at the Cathedral parish to postpone its First Holy Communion ceremony and the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi was hindered as well. Father Ribeiro informs us, “The celebration took place, but the procession that was scheduledand that should have connected Saint Joseph’s School to the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady did not take place.”
“Although the procession did not take place, the Eucharist was held and transmitted via the internet,” says Father Ribeiro. The Dehonian missionary continued, “The feast was celebrated, albeit without the presence of the faithful. But the online participation was good. The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament had to be, nevertheless, interrupted.”
Local churches will remain closed indefinitely, after Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, ordered all cinemas, theatres, beauty salons, gyms and other establishments to shut down.
On Wednesday last week, the Catholic Diocese of Macau had already anticipated the government’s decision, confirming that Masses and religious services will continue to be transmitted online and that the Catholic Churches will remain closed for a while.