We are in a time of great preoccupation as the world is reeling under the attack of Covid-19 and concomitant economic crisis. Great stress is affecting the families, especially those that have little children and elderly. The opening of schools is delayed as the virus is fast spreading all over India. Exams are being cancelled and future of the younger generation is bleak. When tragedies had struck the nations, the prophets gave the call to the people to repent and change their way of life so as to conform their lives to the covenantal relationship with God. In the past when pandemic had struck, Christian faithful resorted to ardent prayer, repentance, penance and charity and some even sacrificed their life in serving the affected people.

Building the Faith: In a similar situation, we have now opened the churches for prayer, Eucharistic celebrations and adoration of Our Lord in the Holy Sacrament. This is the opportune time to build the faith of the People in the presence of the Lord amidst us. The pastors have an added obligation to call the people to participate in the Eucharist and thus keep the faith alive. However, we shall keep a watchful eye on the situation and cooperate with the government in case new decisions are taken.

The Need for Real Eucharist: In the past months, Masses and Adorations were televised or transmitted through the YouTube. There is a real danger of dramatizing the whole scene and losing the mystery itself. Incidentally, many may give the excuse of the danger of Covid-19 for their absence and may not make any effort to come to the fountain of Life. Remember what God said through Prophet Jeremiah: “my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2: 13). Online Eucharistic celebrations may help us to hear the Word of God and pray but they are not a substitute to real Mass. We may end up multiplying only broken cisterns that do not provide us living water. Therefore, both priests and people are called to do introspection in this regard.

On 17 April 2020, during the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said that online Masses do not provide for real sacramental life: “This is the Church in a difficult situation that the Lord is allowing, but the ideal of the Church is always with the people and with the sacraments — always”. One’s relationship with Jesus “is intimate, it is personal, but it is in a community”, and this closeness to Christ without community, without the Eucharist, without the people of God assembled together and “without the sacraments is dangerous”, he said. It is dangerous because people could start living their relationship with God “for just myself, detached from the people of God”. Let us encourage one another to worship the Lord in the Holy Eucharist and through our active participation, by taking necessary precautions and making adequate preparation and conversion of heart.

Jalabandan: This year, on 5 July we celebrate Laudato Sì Sunday in our diocese. Let us visit the saplings we had planted last year and feel their fresh life. The environment has been certainly positively affected by planting more than 80,000 plants. Further, this year the Laudato Sì Committee has drawn our attention on conserving rain water. The Jalabandan handouts have already reached your hands. Till 15 July we conduct the Jalabandan programme and the people should be inspired to use the different methods to make the running water to stop, to make the water get absorbed in the earth so that the earth may be enriched to give us pure water for our consumption. Let us not forget, the Lord has given these resources out of great love. No better drink can we find on this earth than pure water. Save water, save life.

Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: On 16 July, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who assures us her protection, symbolically granting the scapular, as she did to St Simon Stock. Let us have recourse to her intercession so that the whole world may be protected from the Virus and other tragedies. Rosary is the powerful instrument given to us to knock at the door of the Almighty through the intercession of Mother Mary.

+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

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