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God Goes With Us In This Time Of Testing

March 23, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

(Editor’s Note: Below we reprint a “Prayer Against Contagious Diseases,” written by Pope St. Zachary, followed by several statements on the coronavirus crisis by leading U.S. bishops.)

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Prayer Against Contagious Diseases

O Cross of Christ, save me. May zeal for your house free me. The Cross conquers; the Cross reigns; the Cross rules; by the sign of the Cross free me, O Lord, from this plague. God, my God, drive this plague away from me, and from this place, and free me.
In your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, my heart, and my body. Before heaven and earth God was; and God is able to liberate me from this plague. The Cross of Christ will expel the plague from this place and from my body.
It is good to wait for the help of God in silence, that He may drive away this plague from me. I will incline my heart to performing your just deeds, and I will not be confounded, for I have called upon you.
I had zeal on occasion of the wicked; seeing the peace of sinners, I have hoped in you. The Cross of Christ puts demons to flight; corrupt air; and drives away the plague.
I am your Salvation, says the Lord; cry out to me, and I will hear you, and I will liberate you from this plague. Abyss calls to abyss, and you have expelled demons by your voice; liberate me from this plague.
Blessed the man who hopes in the Lord, and does not look upon vanities, and false extravagances.
May the Cross of Christ, which was once the cause of scandal and indignity, and is now in glory and nobility, be for my salvation, and expel from this place the demon, and corrupt air, and plague from my body.
May zeal for the honor of God convert me before I die, and in your name, save me from this plague. May the Sign of the Cross free the People of God, and those who trust in Him, from the plague.
Will this foolish people return to the Lord? Make good on your vows, offering a sacrifice of praise and faith to Him, because He is able to liberate this place and me, from this plague; for whoever trusts in Him will not be confounded. If I will not praise you, let my tongue stick to my throat and to my jaws; free those who hope in you; in you I trust; liberate me and this place, O God, from this plague, for your name has been invoked in prayer.
At your death, O Lord, darkness fell over the whole earth; my God, render the power of the devil tenuous and dim, for it is for this that you have come, O Son of the living God: so that you might destroy the works of the devil with your power, drive out from this place and from me, your servant, this plague; and may the corrupt air depart from me into the outer darkness.
Defend us, O Cross of Christ, and expel from this place the plague, and free your servant from this plague, you who are kind, and merciful, and of many mercies, and true.
Blessed is he who does not look upon vanities, and false extravagances; on the day of evil the Lord will free him; Lord, I have trusted in you; free me from this plague.
God has become my refuge; because I have trusted in you, free me from this plague. Look upon me, O Lord my God, Adonai, from the holy seat of your Majesty, and have mercy on me, and because of your mercy, free me from this plague.
You are my Salvation: heal me, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved.

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Statement Of Archbishop José Gomez Of Los Angeles, USCCB President

With the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus, we are confronted once more with the fragility of our lives, and again we are reminded of our common humanity — that the peoples of this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are all one family under God.
God does not abandon us, He goes with us even now in this time of trial and testing. In this moment, it is important for us to anchor our hearts in the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Now is the time to intensify our prayers and sacrifices for the love of God and the love of our neighbor. Let us draw closer to one another in our love for Him, and rediscover the things that truly matter in our lives.
United with our Holy Father Pope Francis, let us pray in solidarity for our brothers and sisters here and around the world who are sick. Let us pray for those who have lost loved ones to this virus. May God console them and grant them peace.
We pray also for doctors, nurses, and caregivers, for public health officials and all civic leaders. May God grant them courage and prudence as they seek to respond to this emergency with compassion and in service to the common good.
In this time of need, I invite all the faithful to seek together the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I share this prayer with you:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas. We fly to you today as your beloved children. We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother, and gain for our nation and world, and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels, that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted, we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance. Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful, wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing, teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence, knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy. Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

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Statement Of Joseph E. Strickland, Tyler, Texas

Decree Suspending the Public Celebration of Mass and Enacting Other Measures:
Considering that it is my responsibility to show concern and act with humanity and the charity of Christ toward all those entrusted to my care as Bishop of Tyler (c. 383, 1, 3), and recognizing my duty to direct, promote, and guard the liturgical life of the diocese (c. 835, 1); and
Having consulted medical experts and heeding the guidance of the civil authorities and public health professionals regarding the critical need to limit gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, including the guidelines issued by the President of the United States in this time of national emergency;
Therefore, in virtue of my ordinary, proper, and immediate authority as diocesan bishop, I hereby decree as follows:
1. The suspension of all public Masses in the Diocese of Tyler. Accordingly, this includes a dispensation for all the faithful in the diocese from the obligation to participate at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (cc. 87, 1; 1247).
2. The celebration of Holy Mass by the priest privately (without the people) should continue and include, if possible, the assistance of only one other adult minister who is asymptomatic (cc. 904; 906). Previously scheduled intentions, including the weekly Mass for the people, may be fulfilled in this manner.
3. The faithful are encouraged to keep the Lord’s day holy and celebrate Sunday as a domestic church by taking time to pray together as a household (c. 1248, §2). Diocesan media will have resources for daily Mass readings, spiritual communion, and other devotions.
4. Baptisms may still be celebrated, but with the requirement to keep attendance to asymptomatic immediate family and godparents.
5. The sacrament of penance should still be offered, but penance services are to be canceled. When celebrated individually, proper social distancing should be observed as much as possible. Consideration should be given to moving the penitent approximately six feet from the confessor, even if this would necessitate using a different room than is normally used for confession or celebrating the sacrament in a more open location.
6. Visits to the sick may still take place and anointing of the sick should still be celebrated by priests for those who are seriously ill or in danger of death, but always following the recommended protocols for hand-washing and use of masks by those infected and those who are ministering. Priests are reminded that they may use an instrument (e.g. a cotton swab) to anoint if there is a grave reason (c. 1000, §2).
7. Public weddings should be rescheduled, particularly those in April. Simple weddings may be celebrated, but only with the minister, official witnesses, and asymptomatic immediate family members.
8. Funerals may be celebrated, but only with the minister and immediate family members. Pastors may use discretion on requests from families to include others.
9. Public celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours, Stations of the Cross, and other devotional gatherings are suspended until the public celebration of Mass resumes. Churches may remain open for private prayer, provided due regard is given to the proper sanitization and hygiene procedures.
I order that this decree be made known to all concerned and communicated to the faithful by the pastors of the diocese.
These measures take effect March 18, 2020 and will remain in force until further notice, with an update to be provided on April 1. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Tyler, at the Diocesan Curia, on March 17, 2020, the Memorial of St. Patrick.

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Statement Of Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, St. Paul-Minneapolis

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
State Officials have communicated to religious leaders that the next two weeks are critical for the containment of the COVID-19/coronavirus and that all congregational gatherings should be avoided. While I am sure that the advice is startling for those of any creed, it particularly hits hard for Catholics, given our beliefs about the Mass and the Eucharist.
In light of that advice, after consulting with the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors, and having learned that an active parish priest in another U.S. diocese has tested positive for the virus — unknowingly putting his parish at risk prior to the manifestation of any symptoms — I have made the difficult decision to suspend all regularly scheduled public celebrations of Mass in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul Minneapolis, effective immediately. Given both the moral impossibility of attending Mass, as well as the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass that was extended to the faithful of the Archdiocese last week, please rest assured that the missing of Mass in these conditions should not weigh on your conscience.
Anticipating that the need might arise for a funeral or wedding Mass in this period, a limited exception has been granted for those liturgies, provided that any liturgical celebration would comply with the directives that will be issued in a memorandum to clergy of the Archdiocese.
It pains my heart to have to make this decision since I know how many of you deeply love the Mass as I do. This decision will be re-evaluated in two weeks’ time in light of any local developments and the latest advice of civil authorities and experts.
The priests of the Archdiocese will gratefully continue to offer Masses daily for the good of the faithful and for an end to this health crisis. While unable to attend in person, the faithful are encouraged to be spiritually united with the priest celebrants as they pray for the strengthening of this local Church. I am grateful that many parishes have already found ways to broadcast the Mass and other spiritual devotions online, over the radio, or on TV, allowing the faithful to be remotely present at Mass in these challenging times and to make a spiritual communion. Options for Mass and prayer resources may be found at archspm.org/covid19.
Moreover, in their inspiring desire to serve, the priests of the Archdiocese are committed during the next two weeks to continue exploring with the lay faithful possibilities for limited public celebrations of the Mass at the parish or at the Archdiocesan level that would respect the most up-to-date recommendations from the Department of Health and allow us to continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus in our community.
Knowing that so many Catholics are deeply Eucharistic in their spirituality, our priests and deacons are also committed to expanding possibilities for adoration and private prayer, moving adoration, where necessary, to larger church spaces to facilitate appropriate social distancing.
I am grateful that confessions will continue to be heard at parishes, with appropriate precautions and adaptations taken in accordance with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. Priests will also continue to respond to sacramental emergencies and provide anointing and Viaticum to the extent this is possible. Please do not hesitate to contact your local parish to make them aware of any sacramental needs for the sick or the dying.
As we today mark a special day of fasting, abstinence and prayer invoking God’s Providential care for our Archdiocese, our country and the world, I invite you to consider the upcoming “fast” from the Eucharist as a way to draw ever closer to our Lord, especially as we experience a more intense longing for Jesus, present in the Eucharist.
During this time of Eucharistic fasting, I would encourage each of us to offer intercessory prayer each day for the health and safety of our community, especially healthcare workers, and to join in solidarity with the many Catholics throughout the world who regularly are unable to receive communion, due to persecution or to an absence of priests.
Please continue to pray for those who have died from COVID-19/coronavirus, those who mourn them, those who are sick and the many who care for them. I ask you to keep in your prayers, as well, Governor Tim Walz and Commissioner Jan Malcom from the Minnesota Department of Health, and all public servants working to keep our communities safe.
May Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted, keep us close to each other and to the loving heart of her Son.
March 18, 2020.

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Prayer By Bishop Larry Silva Of Honolulu

Dear God of all the living, you sent your Son Jesus to heal us from illness and sin. We turn to His healing power in this time of anxiety over the pandemic of this potentially deadly virus.
St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope dedicated their lives to service of those who had an infectious disease. St. Marianne Cope said, “I am not afraid of any disease,” because she was confident of your power to save. At the same time, she took prudent precautions of hygiene to assure that she and her Sisters would not be infected.
Let us learn from this example to put our trust in you to save us from the ravages of disease and to take prudent measures to prevent its spread. Guide us to know when to isolate ourselves from the possibility of infection, but never let anyone be left without the care and concern of others in the community.
As our Diocese of Honolulu has been dedicated to the Divine Mercy, we pray with confidence, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

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On this painful Palm Sunday I pray that we can all cling to the joy that the Lord Jesus is keeping His Promise, He is still with us. It is excruciating not to receive Him in Communion but He awaits us “in the room next to us” May Spiritual Communion place us in His Real Presence

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