By Lydia O’Kane
With many countries around the world being affected by the Coronavirus, numerous Bishops Conferences are offering helpful guidelines to the faithful about what precautions they can take to stay safe and keep the virus from spreading.
At present, New Zealand has five cases of the Covid-19 virus, and people who have entered the country from overseas are being asked to self-isolate.
Before cases of the virus were even reported in New Zealand, the Bishops’ National Liturgy Office sent out a letter notifying parishes about precautions to take “to ensure the safety of people gathering for Mass and other parish gatherings and especially receiving Holy Communion.”
A helping hand
Speaking about preventative measures in his Archdiocese, the Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew told Vatican News that they’re, “encouraging people to be really careful about hygiene, about when they’re in crowds, even if they have a cold to stay home; just trying to highlight to people that there are a number of things that we can do to keep the virus at bay”.
The Cardinal went on to say that this is a time when people need to be ready to help one another, especially if people are isolated. “There are a few people who are self-isolating who have come back from overseas, and we’re saying, see what you can do, see if you can drop off food, ring them… there’s a whole range of things that people can do, both to prevent the Covid-19 virus taking hold here, but also to be supportive of people who might contract the disease.”
The vulnerable and Covid-19
For the vulnerable and those who don’t have a home to go to, Cardinal Dew said “they are trying to prepare people”, because the vulnerable are the very ones that will need a lot of help and might even need other accommodation if it’s possible.
A time of prayer and reflection
There are many people around the world who are self-isolating as a result of the virus at this time. Asked about what people can do at a spiritual level while they are confined to their own homes, the Cardinal pointed out that this is a time to capitalize on Lent, “and it’s traditionally a time to step aside, pay a little closer attention to the scriptures”.
He also said that a message that the Church can get out there is that, “if you are at home, use some of the wonderful websites that help people to pray; help people to reflect, because a lot of people struggle when they’re on their own; they don’t know how to fill in time, so it’s an opportunity for us to promote some of those websites and things that do help people to pray and reflect and to learn how to actually be alone and use it as a kind of retreat.”