The pandemic has resulted in unfamiliar signs posted on church doors. Michael Swan

Canada's bishops on COVID-19: March 29, 2020

  • March 26, 2020

In place of The Catholic Register’s editorial and letters from readers, this week we are turning over this page to reprint abridged versions from a sampling of messages from Canadian bishops to the people of their dioceses as they address the COVID-19 crisis.

Lift our spirits

Yesterday I heard birds singing — a beautiful and refreshing sound after a winter without. The sound lifted my spirits!

One bird, then another — harbingers of spring — a promise of happier times ahead! Let us do the same ­— lift drooping spirits by kind words and thoughtful actions, by reaching out to neighbours alone in their homes, perhaps in need of assistance and care, certainly needing cheery voices, some good news and a small break from the tedium of being at home alone.

Many years ago,when I was Bishop in Labrador, I was aware that parishioners in smaller, more isolated villages did not have access to the Eucharist for several months at a time. It is still the reality there today. We can learn from them. 

During this time of trial, give thanks for the blessings we experience — the love of family and friends, the courage of health care and public health professionals, the availability of necessities, the bravery of those in quarantine or self-isolating, the awareness that we will get to the other side of this test and gather once again to sing and pray our thanksgiving together!

Douglas Crosby, O.M.I.,

Bishop of Hamilton

Cherish the Eucharist

So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are deprived of the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, for many reasons. Due to this health emergency we also will now experience their suffering. Perhaps this sacrifice will help us to cherish more profoundly the great gift of the Holy Eucharist. 

At this time, when we are reminded of the brevity of life and of our own mortality, we are called to go deeper to our spiritual foundations. I encourage all people who remain at home and who are cut off from regular social interaction to engage in prayer — to pray the rosary, to read the Scriptures and to offer prayers for those who are suffering the most in this crisis. We should also pray for the health care workers and others who are engaged in fighting this pandemic.

While it is a painful moment in the life of the Church to take these extreme measures, we pray that they will aid in combating the pandemic that has affected so many in our own community and around the world.

We are facing many trials during our Lenten journey. We take these to prayer, and look for opportunities to be the face of Jesus to all those whom we encounter. May God continue to bless you.

Thomas Cardinal Collins,

Archbishop of Toronto

Embrace the challenge

Pope Francis has asked us to reach out to those on the periphery. The crisis through which we are now living can be embraced as an opportunity to learn how to do just that. It can be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate how reachable we are, how available we are and how well we respond to our neighbours’ needs.

Let us remember that Lent, even the very unusual one through which we are journeying, is an intensive time of prayer and fasting, of generosity and sharing. May the Holy Spirit help us to be creative and to remain open to the needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Christian Lépine,

Archbishop of Montréal

Unite in His Passion

As Holy Mass commemorates Christ’s sacrificial act of love for us, this unprecedented decision (to celebrate Mass without a congregation) was not taken lightly. It follows from the Lord’s commandment that we love one another as He has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34). 

In this trying time, this means that we must ensure the health and safety of our community by following the directives of our provincial and national health authorities.

Recognizing the great sacrifice involved for those who are unable to receive the Eucharist, particularly during this time of suffering, I invite all the faithful to deepen their relationship to the Lord by uniting themselves to His Passion.

J. Michael Miller, CSB,

Archbishop of Vancouver

United in Christ

I wish to share two important things with you. Firstly, how proud I am about the response of our local Church to this crisis demonstrated both by your prayers and also by efforts to reach out to those who are vulnerable, especially those who live alone and our elderly sisters and brothers who are at an increased risk because of their frailty. I know you are demonstrating charity in many other ways as well, such as your patience when facing long lines in the stores or your small gestures of kindness to those who are anxious.

Secondly, I know you are praying with fervour for divine intervention. We are united in Christ when we pray, together or alone, in His name.

May I encourage us all together to make an extra effort to implore God’s providential intervention in this time of trial? What I am asking is for us all to increase our prayers — to lift our voices in the supplication to God our Father for those afflicted at home and abroad, for medical health practitioners, for our leaders and for all who are anxious or who face many difficulties as a result of the impact this virus has on our community.

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.,

Archbishop of Ottawa

Called to serve

As we have all watched this pandemic develop and spread, I have been asking myself, and continually take to prayer, the question, “How am I being called to serve and be close to the people of God at this time?” 

I am asking that every pastor and administrator in our archdiocese take time to pray and dialogue with lay leadership about how they can most meaningfully and helpfully reach out to their people and provide for their spiritual needs through this crisis. And I encourage every member of the faithful in our archdiocese to prayerfully consider how they are being called to reach out to one another and to those in need, keeping in mind all relevant health directives.

The Lord is never absent from us. We are called, not only in times of joy and celebration but in times of trial and sorrow, to live faithfully, meaningfully and compassionately. Even as we follow the most prudent health directives and honour our Christian duty to protect the vulnerable, we are called to be present to and with one another, if not physically, then spiritually.  

Donald J. Bolen,

Archbishop of Regina

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