Amidst the Covid crisis, the Church is still at prayer!

Fr Leonard E Dollentas

As Macao authorities race to contain the recent, largest outbreak of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, the Catholic Church of Macao has had to make a tough choice, ceasing in-person church activities until further notice. Although suspending in-person gatherings was not an easy decision, churches closed their doors and the diocese reverted to virtual and online ministry. The Church has to support the government measures in the best interest of public health.

Retired and elderly sisters continue to pray for Macao. The contemplative Trappistine nuns on the hills of Penha are carrying on their unabated rhythms of prayers. In the midst of the Covid -19 waves of panic and the gloominess it brings to Macao, these prayer warriors raise their hearts and minds to God and intercede for the faithful.

At the Macao Cathedral, Masses are broadcasted daily in three languages. For weekdays, the schedule runs from 7:45 AM (Cantonese), 8:30 AM (Portuguese), and 9:15 AM (English). On Sundays, the live streaming has the following schedule: 9:15 AM (Cantonese), 11:00 AM (Portuguese), and 10:15 AM (English).  Since participants cannot receive Communion during this time, they are invited to recite the Spiritual Communion prayer when joining the online Masses.

The following tips may be useful when you are joining the celebration of Mass via a webcam or a live stream.

  • Dress as you would for Mass, especially when joining on Sundays.
  • Turn off any other technology that might distract you.
  • Light a candle before Mass begins, perhaps beside a cross within sight of your PC, tablet, or mobile to help create a sacred space.
  • Share in the responses, prayers, and gestures (the sign of the cross, etc.) of the Mass.
  • Stand for the Gospel and Our Father; kneel as appropriate if you can.
  • At Holy Communion, make an act of Spiritual Communion.
  • And finally, go in peace – to live what you have prayed.

Following restrictions to stay at home can in fact be an opportunity for Catholic families to come together in meaningful moments of prayer. Watching TV, online programs, or playing constant pranks on others can be both exhausting and irritating for some in the family. Instead, why not devote some time to gather “spiritually” as a family. Why not commit some time to God – to pray Catholic prayers and go through the readings of the Mass. Before dinner in the evening, the families can gather for the day’s prayers. Begin by making the sign of the cross. Then read the readings aloud with your family (these can be found in publications like My Daily Prayers, the Daily Roman Missal, or online at the Catholic websites). In place of a homily, read meaningful reflections from a spiritual classic, such as Christ is passing by (St. Josemaria Escrivá), The sinner’s guide (Louis of Granada) or On loving God (St. Bernard of Clairvaux). These are readily available online. Then offer petitions, saying out loud your prayers for the Church, remembering especially those affected by COVID-19. Conclude by praying the Our Father and making the sign of the cross.

The current pandemic affecting public health is part of the cross we have to carry as Christians. Under its weight, let us not stumble, nor falter. Embracing the penitential aspects of this situation will purify us all, allowing the love of Christ that conquers all things to shine ever victorious.

(Image: Courtesy of Joni Cheng)