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Christ Present in Word and Charity Rediscovered in Times of Pandemic

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Experience New Vision for Faith

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“Without Sunday Mass, without the Eucharist, meeting at home with one’s families in prayer has led us to reflect with a new vision. We are experiencing what is ‘normal’ in the most remote areas of the world where our brothers and sisters see a priest once a month, or every three, six months, or perhaps once a year”, explains Father Giorgio Licini, PIME, Secretary-General of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, with regards to the lockdown for COVID declared by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In a note sent to Fides News Agency, the Secretary notes: “In PNG the situation is not as tragic as in other parts of the world; we are impressed by the fact that, at least for now, the virus has exploded in the richest and most developed countries, while the contagion is still minimal here and in general in the countries of the southern hemisphere, where, moreover, the healthcare infrastructure to cope with it would practically be zero”.

The missionary continues: “This is a health emergency that, perhaps, could also sow something positive in the soul of man. Praying within the family, even if it is not like being at Mass, is certainly strengthening the bonds in the family and in the community; not being able to receive the Eucharist is making us appreciate more the nourishment of the Word.

“Our limited familiarity with the Scriptures constantly reminds us of the need to open the Bible more often, reflect, contemplate, and pray the Scriptures individually or in groups. Sunday Mass cannot remain an isolated event”, stresses the Secretary-General. “Theologians say that the Eucharist is culmen et fons, summit, and source, especially in terms of prayer, charity, and works of justice and cannot remain disconnected from daily life”, he notes.

Licini concludes his reflection by explaining that “the lockdown of the spirit is much worse than the temporary lockdown caused by the pandemic. The works of charity and justice, the Word of God, the Body, and Blood of Christ cannot remain isolated. Catholic identity and faith are made up of all three of these elements, together and always”.

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