By Katie Ascough - 14 March, 2020
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has met with the Senate of Priests of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore and released a statement regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In the statement, the bishop states that God will not abandon His people: “This crisis is a time of testing – the testing of our faith and of our community spirit.” He reminds people to reach out to neighbours who live alone, even by calling them on the phone.
He also says that, being mindful of the need to care for the body as well as the soul, Masses throughout the diocese will not be cancelled but will take place without the congregation physically present, meaning no public Masses.
He draws the distinction between spiritual health and physical health, “By congregating large numbers of people in a church there may well be a threat of infection and harm to physical health,” and tells the faithful that their local priest will celebrate daily Mass offering it up for their intentions and for the whole country. Parishioners are advised to check the diocesan website for information regarding the various resources that can be used each day.
The statement dispenses all from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass until and including Sunday, 29 March, with this date being under review. Churches will remain open as usual for prayer.
“While many are tempted to fear, people of faith can use this crisis to pray and strengthen their relationship with God,” Bishop Cullinan states. He asks people to not forget the medical personnel who are at the frontline and the priests who will continue to minister to the sick and vulnerable.
He reminds the faithful that no matter where someone is based they can join spiritually with the offering of the priest each day and provides the words to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which can be used when receiving the Eucharist is not possible. Many parishes have Mass relayed by TV or radio and each day Bishop Cullinan says he will be posting a reflection and prayer on the diocesan website www.waterfordlismore.ie.
WLR FM radio will also broadcast Sunday Mass, March 15, with Bishop Cullinan at 9 a.m.
The bishop concludes with the words of our National Patron, Saint Patrick, whose Feast Day is approaching, and the Act of Spiritual Communion.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ beneath and Christ above,
Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left,
Christ with me waking,
walking and sleeping,
Christ in the heart thinking of me,
Christ on every tongue speaking of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me
Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You.