It is recognized everywhere that there is a very serious dilemma brought about by the corona-virus which has now also taken root in SA with the latest figures showing 85 infections. Most of them are cases where those affected have travelled abroad but a number are also those with no international travel history.
The State President has consulted widely and is also in touch with religious bodies. A well structured programme was presented to the nation by the various government ministers. Measures are in place towards containment and to prevent its spread on a large scale. Difficult decisions with wide-ranging implications for citizens have been taken that have major impacts in particular on families and their daily lives as schools are closed and movement and gatherings are restricted.
While these measures are essential I personally have found it disturbing that the attention in general, in the media and even in the Church is largely about the secular, practical problems surrounding the virus.
The SACBC bishops’ statement, issued by Bishop Sipuka, echoed and sought to apply some of the measures and did add a spiritual component in the light of the cancellation, or at least curtailment, of church services at the Church’s most sacred season. Limiting numbers at any gathering to 100 is seen to be a very hard to manage and many dioceses have chosen to cancel public celebrations of Sunday Mass. A dispensation is granted for this. All the Holy Week and Easter services will also not be publicly celebrated. It is suggested to use the readings of the time at home, even small Christian community groups can be problematic. Weekday Masses could be offered to smaller groups.
Our Catholic faith and the practice of our religion is very focused on the Mass as the pinnacle of our faith and the Eucharist is our spiritual source of nourishment.
What really matters? Faith or health, as bishop Graham Rose, the vice president of the SACBC wrote after the SACBC directive? It is a very real, material dilemma, with very high stakes, preserving life or saving the economy from collapse. What kind of catastrophe is that for us as believers? We could even ask how well we could survive being deprived for an undefined period.
Homes and families as always but particularly now will be an important resource for sustaining our faith. using the scripture readings and other spiritual resources, faith sharing and prayer.
MARFAM has a range of material for this liturgical time some of which are age appropriate, designed for families at different stages. See list below and visit website for details.https://www.marfam.org.za/publications-info/
There are many resources that can be downloaded to find ways to entertain families. An list of worthwhile films; https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/diy-edifying-film-festival-social-distanced-and-quarantined
An extract from the statement of the Canadian bishops is valuable. “As Catholics, we see in every illness a reminder of our own mortality, as well as an invitation to share in Christ’s ministry of healing. In the face of suffering and sickness, Christians are to be credible witnesses to the Lord’s enduring love, providence, and power in our midst. His mercy and care are always present and available.”
The reminder of our own mortality is important. We are not meant to live forever. Yes, we do want to save lives and prevent excessive loss of life. However at the same time, as last week’s MARFAM newsletter stated, millions of lives of the unborn are deliberately destroyed constantly. 1000s of death on the roads occur every holiday period. We are in a time of disastrous climate change affecting all of the family of creation. What brought on this situation? How did this corona scare start if not through abuse of nature? Should we acknowledge our social sin as well as our personal sin in the form of idolatry – putting other priorities before God, money, work, even family?
While we address this current symptom let us also work to address the causes and aim to correct the balance in our priorities and values. The real war between the forces of evil and good continues. Let us call on the support of the Holy Family, who travelled the journey and understood the ways of life. TR FAMILY WEEKLY 18 March.
MARFAM CURRENT, LENT AND EASTER RESOURCES, print and digital. See https://www.marfam.org.za/publications-info/
- 2020 Family Year Planner with relevant themes for March and April and related Daily Thoughts on the readings of the time with extracts from Pope Francis writings. Website, email, facebook, twitter.
- Lenten Family Calendar. With a list of suggestions on family and environment.
- STATIONS OF THE CROSS FOR FAMILIES. in various local languages
- Paraliturgies for Holy Week: A Family Prayer Meal, A Family Reconciliation Service, Veneration of the Cross for families, Remembering our Baptism.
- Booklets of reflection and faith sharing for families. A Family Prayer Book. “God’s Plan of Love, the Resurrection Story” for children.
- “An Hour of Prayer for Marriage and Family Life,” Praying the Rosary for families.