“It’s a painful decision,” says Bishop Onaga
The Catholic Bishop of Enugu, Dr. Callistus Onaga, has suspended the celebration of masses in large congregations as well as other Easter rituals that draw large crowds.
The suspension takes effect from 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 31 March 2020.
In the latest guidelines released to priests and the religious in Enugu today, Bishop Onaga said he was taking a cue from the Enugu State Government directive that mass gatherings of all kings stand suspended.
“We the Catholics in Enugu, while believing firmly that nothing is impossible for God, have to give further painful directives regarding the celebration of mass and other liturgies in our Diocese,” he said.
Affected are wide-ranging suspensions and guidance for priests and the faithful on private celebrations of the mass, Stations of the Cross, and Holy Week Ceremonies.
In suspending the celebration of holy mass with congregation, priests were advised to celebrate private masses and pray for the people.
Stations of the cross, including on Good Friday, is suspended. The Bishop advised families and individuals to celebrate privately.
The diocese said it will follow Vatican guidance to Bishops to celebrate Holy Week activities without the presence of the people if they live in countries facing Covid-19 challenges and where movements have been restricted
Holy Week activities that have been suspended include Palm Sunday, Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil.
Priests were however asked to inform their parishioners of the exact time of the celebrations so they could “prayerfully and spiritually unite themselves to them from their homes.”
He advised Catholics to practice “spiritual Communion in order to receive Christ, whom they cannot receive physically, into their hearts and request him to be their companion throughout the day.”
Bishop Onaga concluded this way:
“Brothers and sisters, these are difficult and challenging times. At such times as these, we all are invited to deepen our faith in God intensify our prayers, read and meditate the Word of God, show love and solidarity with the suffering, strengthen the family (the domestic Church) and encourage one another.
“As the Holy Father Pope Francis told us yesterday during his extraordinary Ubi et Orbi blessing, God turns everything to our good.
“He equally reminded us that in this storm, in the midst of this tempest, the Lord Jesus is asking us: “Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith? (Mark 4:40) “With the help of God and through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, we shall come out of this stronger – and this, we pray will be soon.”