The Blessed Sacrament brought to the streets of the neighborhoods, to bless the houses; masses in Urdu followed online by the faithful also in other parts of the world; the Eucharist distributed “door to door” to parishioners: in this way, the Church in Pakistan tries to take care of the spiritual life of the people of God in times of lockdown and pandemic. Fides News Agency published a report on May 6, 2020.
“To save ourselves from the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have two tasks. The first is to save people and protect their health; the second is to protect and strengthen faith. The person can be saved by observing measures such as social distancing and lockdown; faith is strengthened by continuing to participate in masses and prayers online”: said Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the diocese of Lahore, who daily celebrates a mass broadcast online for the faithful of Pakistan on Facebook and on diocesan Catholic TV, while in Pakistan confinement continues to contain the spread of coronavirus. Archbishop Sebastian also said: “We try to fulfill our responsibility to observe social distancing and avoid visiting relatives and friends”, but “we maintain spiritual relationship and mutual comfort”.
Even in the Archdiocese of Karachi, Catholic priests periodically go out to show their closeness to the faithful to strengthen their faith. Anthony Abraz, parish priest of St. Thomas Parish in Karachi went to the neighborhoods where most Christian faithful live, bringing the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people and satisfy the spiritual need of the faithful.
Speaking with Fides Fr. Anthony says: “While the lockdown for Covid-19 is in place, people have physical and spiritual needs. Feeling the spiritual thirst of people, we decided to go out into the streets holding the Blessed Sacrament. People stopped in front of the main doors or balconies to worship and venerate the Lord present in the Eucharist and to receive the Eucharistic blessing”.
Fr. Anthony says: “We cannot gather, but with this special pastoral approach we go to the various neighborhoods to remember that God is with us and does not abandon us. We see a lot of joy among people who feel consoled in this difficult moment”.
Noman Noel, a priest of St. James parish in Karachi, who celebrates mass broadcast online, tells Fides: “After discussing with our parish pastoral group, we 4 priests of the parish decided to go to the areas of our Christian community to distribute Holy Communion. Taking the necessary precautions we visited people door to door to distribute the Eucharist: it was a powerful sign of God who comes to visit his people”. Fr. Noman observes: “This has brought joy and happiness. I have seen people who had tears in their eyes. I was amazed at the response of the people and the love for the Eucharist. We hope and pray that this moment of trial will pass soon. Following the rules and social distancing, we would like to distribute Holy Communion once a month to our parishioners”.
Father Aamir Bhatti, priest and CEO of the “Good News Catholic Web TV”, speaking with Fides, informed: “We are broadcasting the Holy Mass daily and more than 1,000 people connect to the Urdu Mass from other parts of the world. Before Mass, prayer intentions sent by the faithful are read and Mass is celebrated especially for the people’s prayer intentions”.
Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the Catholic diocese of Rawalpindi-Islamabad also organized Eucharistic adoration to pray for the healing of the world from coronavirus. Speaking to Fides, the Archbishop says: “In this critical moment for humanity, we pray without stopping and let us all join together in prayer so that the grace of God’s healing may be a powerful force for our community and all over the world”.