"Courage, it is I, do not be afraid" (Mt 14:27).
In times of the Lord is still present and accompanies us with words of encouragement as he sends us to care for and encourage those around us. at the same time that he sends us to care for and encourage those around us. Constantly greets us: "Peace be with you".
1.- Concern and responsibility
The health emergency we are currently experiencing with the Covid-19 coronavirus, brings to the forefront the the gravity of the situation created in all places and activities, which continues to grow in and activities, which continues to experience exponential growth. exponential growth.
In addition to this reasonable concern, we wish to point out the necessary measures, some of them of an extraordinary of an extraordinary nature, following the advice and decisions of the Government, the Ministry of Health and the autonomous the Government, the Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities are indicating. are being indicated. We are grateful for the generous dedication of so many people who are helping in this crisis, each one of them from his or her own helping in this crisis, each one from his or her own responsibility.
As as Christians, we want to live these moments with all our civic responsibility, with fraternal solidarity with fraternal solidarity towards the people affected, and with trust in the Lord, who in times of trial trust in the Lord who in times of trial never leaves us from his hand, but sustains our hope and invites us to conversion. who sustains our hope and invites us to conversion.
This This global situation is also a sign of the bonds that unite us and which underlie the call to solidarity in caring for the weakest and neediest people. solidarity in caring for the weakest and most needy, the sick, the elderly and the lonely. and in need of help, the sick, the elderly and the lonely.
Also We must also be ready to engage in a new and demanding exercise of fraternal solidarity in the face of the economic and social consequences the economic and social consequences that are to be feared as a consequence of this global problem. this global problem. We hope that this moment of great need can be an opportunity to strengthen, among all of us, solidarity and work in favor of the poor, to strengthen, among all of us, solidarity and work in favor of a common goal. a common goal.
2.- Charity active so as not to expose ourselves to contagion or be a channel of contagion to others.
The measures that we must be willing to put into practice must help us to avoid contracting the disease contract the disease and thus not be the cause of others close to us becoming infected. to become infected. For this reason we are called to make efforts and renunciations even if they are painful. even if they are painful. Young people in particular are called to collaborate and to give witness of fraternity.
For We therefore call on people to follow the instructions of those responsible for health to avoid the accelerated progression of the disease with the hygienic measures and avoiding and avoiding contacts that facilitate the spread of the disease. These These recommendations will be in force until determined by the health authorities. and can be summarized as follows:
- "Apply hygienic measures such as frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol solution, covering coughs with a disposable handkerchief immediately or in the solution, covering coughs with a disposable tissue immediately or in the crook of the elbow, as well as cleaning elbow, as well as cleaning surfaces that may have been splashed by coughing or sneezing. splashed by coughing or sneezing.
- In any case, it is recommended In any case, it is recommended to avoid crowded places where it is not possible to keep the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter is not possible.
- It is recommended to leave home as little as possible. as little as possible.
3.- Measures in relation to catechesis catechesis, formative activities and celebration of the Church.
See catechesis should be suspended. It is important to encourage the continuation of family catechesis. family catechesis for which parishes should offer guidance and resources. and resources. Talks, formation meetings, devotional events, concerts, concerts devotional acts, concerts, conferences and similar events in churches and diocesan of a similar nature in churches and diocesan facilities.
For the duration of emergency situation we recommend following the celebration of the Eucharist as a family through the media. Eucharist as a family through the media. Because of their vulnerability, it is advisable that people who are chronically ill, elderly, debilitated or at potential risk, and those who live with them, are advised to refrain from with them, should refrain from attending the celebration of the Eucharist. We are all being are being advised to leave the house as little as possible.
The usual celebrations The usual celebrations of the Eucharist can be maintained with only the presence of the priest and a small group priest and a possible small group convoked by the celebrant. In the case of In the case of celebrations open to the people, we recommend avoiding the concentration of people, following the instructions given in section 2. people, following the instructions given in section 2. During this time, each Bishop may dispense from the Sunday precept those who do not participate in participate in the Eucharist in person for these reasons.
With Regarding the celebration of funerals and funerals, it is recommended that only the relatives and closest only the relatives and persons closest to them, maintaining the same precautions as in the previous the same precautions as in the previous sections. Other celebrations should be postponed as much as possible. other celebrations should be postponed as much as possible. The processions at this time should be be suppressed.
From extraordinarily, it is recommended to receive communion in the hand. The celebrants and those who distribute communion and prepare the liturgical objects should be should take extreme care in disinfecting their hands. The rite of The rite of peace should be omitted or expressed in a gesture that avoids physical contact. contact.
The sacrament of forgiveness could be celebrated in spaces or settings that ensure the intimacy and safe distance the privacy and safe distance recommended by the health authorities. health authorities. We priests are called to offer the means to prepare for the celebration at home, time and space celebration at home, time and space suitable for offering Mercy to those who ask for it in this unique to those who ask for it in this unique Lenten season.
United in prayer. in prayer. Time for spiritual and pastoral creativity
More than ever we must open ourselves to contemplate the Mystery unveiled in the glorious Cross of Jesus Christ. glorious Cross of Jesus Christ. Present and future measures oblige us to keep our distance. distances. Let us cultivate the closeness of prayer. Let us pray for one another, for for those who are suffering from the disease, for their families and friends, for the healthcare health personnel, as well as for those working to contain the spread of the virus. of the virus.
This situation calls us to a pastoral creativity to help each other to live Lent and Holy Week in a new way. Lent and Holy Week in a new way. We pastors are especially called to a new commitment and creativity in the way we accompany the People of God. the People of God. As Pope Francis has said today: "May the People of God be accompanied by pastors and the consolation of the Word of God, the sacraments and prayer. sacraments and prayer".
At Lenten itinerary, lacking some community liturgical signs and expressions of popular devotion in the streets of the expressions of popular devotion in the street, we are called to a path even more deeply rooted in what sustains the spiritual life: prayer, prayer, the to a path even more rooted in what sustains the spiritual life: prayer, fasting and charity. fasting and charity. May the efforts made to contain the spread of the coronavirus of the coronavirus be accompanied by the commitment of each of the faithful to the greater good: care for life, the defeat of the care for life, the defeat of fear, the triumph of hope.
The temples can remain open for personal prayer and to invoke the Lord's gifts of wisdom and strength to the gifts of wisdom and strength to live this moment.
5.- Collaboration and review of criteria
We show our willingness to collaborate responsibly in all that is necessary for the control of this pandemic in control of this pandemic in accordance with the indications of the health authorities, especially the authorities, especially in the concretization of the state of alarm. criteria may be updated as events evolve and as new measures are taken by the events evolve and new measures are taken by the public administrations. authorities.
This is a circumstance in which to raise our gaze to the Lord from the fragility of our human condition, remembered on Ash Wednesday. the fragility of our human condition remembered on Ash Wednesday. At unexpected desert that we are going through, we will awaken a gaze to God and a greater welcome and solicitude for our and solicitude for our brothers and sisters, especially for the sick and those most lacking in joy and trust. the most lacking in joy and trust.
At the prayers of Lauds and Vespers, as well as in the preces of the Holy Mass, prayers to the Lord and the prayers to the Lord and to the care of the Blessed Virgin, that they may sustain us all in hope, relieve those to sustain us all in hope, to bring relief to those who suffer the consequences of this virus, while we entrust the consequences of this virus, while we commend to the good God the deceased, asking for their eternal rest. for their eternal rest.
Let us make our own the prayer that Pope Francis invites us to pray at this time:
"Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus tells us. Jesus, who has taken upon himself our sufferings and borne our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the cross. our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection. resurrection. Under your protection we take refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disregard our supplications, for we are in trial, and deliver us from all danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin. glorious and blessed Virgin".
Commission Executive Committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference Madrid, March 13, Friday of Lent 2020