Today, May 14th, religions across the world are invited to unite in prayer and fasting for an end to the pandemic…
Pope Francis reminded faithful of this today during his private daily Mass, streamed from his residence Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican News, stressing we are, no matter our religious affiliation, brothers and sisters.
“Today, the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity,” Francis reminded, “has called for a day of prayer and fasting to ask the merciful God for an end to this tragic moment of the pandemic.”
“We are all brothers and sisters,” he continued, reminding: “St Francis of Assisi used to say: “All brothers and sisters”. And so, men and women of every religious confession are uniting themselves today in prayer and penance to ask for the grace of healing from this pandemic.”
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on the example of the prophet Jonah.
“The city of Nineveh,” he recalled, “was afflicted by some sort of pandemic – perhaps by a moral pandemic – and was about to be destroyed. God called Jonah to preach a message of prayer, penance, and fasting.”
Jonah, the Pope said, was initially overcome by fear and so ran away from his mission, but then God called him again, and the prophet went to Nineveh to preach.
People of all faiths and traditions, the Holy Father repeated, are called to pray and fast together for delivery from the pandemic, as the people of Nineveh did in response to Jonah’s preaching.
He acknowledged that none of us expected the coronavirus pandemic, but that it is upon us, and “many people are dying, many of them alone.”
Francis also cautioned those who have not been affected by the pandemic not to rejoice.
“Often,” the Argentinian Pope recognized, “the thought can arise: ‘Well, at least I haven’t been affected. Thank God I’m safe.’
“But,” he appealed, “think about others. Think about the tragedy and its consequences on the economy and education. Think about what will come afterwards.”
This selfish attitude, he expressed, we try to overcome with today’s prayers.
Praying together, the Pope adamantly stressed, is in no way “religious relativism.”
“How can we not,” he asked, “pray to the Father of all?”
“Everyone,” the Pope acknowledged, “prays as they know how, as they can, according to what they have received from their culture.”
Stressing “we aren’t praying against each other,” he said, “we are united in humanity as brothers and sisters.”
The Holy Father urged everyone to ask God for forgiveness of our sins, so that “God might put an end to this pandemic.”
Many other pandemics, the Pope said, afflict humanity.
Over 3.7 million people, the Pope said citing official statistics, died from hunger in the first four months of the year.
“This day of prayer against the pandemic,” he urged, “must make us think also of many other pandemics. The pandemics of war, of hunger.”
The people of Nineveh, the Pope said, listened to the prophet and converted from their evil ways. God saw their conversion and stopped the pandemic.
“May God,” he said, “put an end to this tragedy – this pandemic – and have mercy on us.
“And may He put an end to the other terrible pandemics of hunger, war, and uneducated children. This we ask as brothers and sisters, all together.
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May God bless us all, and have mercy on us.”
The Masses in Francis’ chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures’ taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation. The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in the Vatican were also done without the presence of faithful, but were able to be watched via streaming.
The Masses at Santa Marta will stop being streamed as of Monday, May 18th.
It was announced at the start of the lockdowns in Italy that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 am Rome time, along with his weekly Angelus and General Audiences.
On May 4th, the country entered its so-called ‘Phase 2′, where it will slowly relaxing some of the lockdown restrictions.
Public Masses in Italy with the faithful will resume on Monday, May 18th, according to a statement of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. There will continue to be various safety measures in place, in order to protect the faithful.
In Italy where more than 30,000 people have died from COVID19, public Masses are still prohibited. To date, in the Vatican, there have been twelve cases of coronavirus in the Vatican, confirmed a recent statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni.
The Vatican Museums are closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
For anyone interested, the Pope’s Masses at Santa Marta can be watched live and can be watched afterward on Vatican YouTube. Below is a link to today’s Mass. Also, a ZENIT English translation of the Pope’s full homily is published below.
FULL HOMILY [working translation by ZENIT’s Virginia Forrester]
In the First Reading we heard the story of Jonah, in a style of the time. Since, we don’t know, there was “some pandemic” in the city of Nineveh, a “moral pandemic, perhaps, [the city] was about to be destroyed (Cf. Jonah 3:1-10). And God sends Jonah to preach: prayer and penance, prayer and fasting (Cf. vv. 7-8). In face of that pandemic, Jonah got scared and fled (Cf. Jonah 1:1-3). Then the Lord called him a second time and he agreed to go and preach this (Cf. Jonah 3:1-2). And today all of us, brothers and sisters of all religious traditions, pray. <It is> a <Global> Day of Prayer and Fasting, of Penance, proclaimed by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. Each one of us prays, communities pray, Religious Confessions pray, they pray to God: all brothers, united in fraternity, which brings us together in this moment of sorrow and tragedy.
We weren’t expecting this pandemic. It came without our expecting it, but now it exists. And so many people are dying. So many people are dying alone and so many people are dying without being able to do anything. The thought can often come: “It doesn’t touch me; thank God, I’ve been spared.” But think of others! Think of the tragedy and also of the economic consequences, the consequences on education, the consequences . . . what will happen after. And, therefore, today all brothers and sisters, of whatever Religious Confession, pray to God. Perhaps there’ll be someone who’ll say: “This is religious relativism and it can’t be done.” But why can’t it be done to pray to the Father of all? Each one prays as he knows how, as he can, as he has received from his culture. We are not praying against one another, this religious Tradition against that <other>, no! We are all united as human beings, as brothers, praying to God according to our own culture, according to our own Tradition, according to our own beliefs, but as brothers praying to God <and> this is important! Brothers, fasting, asking God’s pardon for our sins, so that the Lord will have mercy on us, so that the Lord will forgive us, so that the Lord will stop this pandemic. Today is a day of fraternity, looking to the one Father, brothers and paternity — Day of Prayer.
Last year, in fact in November of last year, we didn’t know what a pandemic was: it came as a deluge, it cam suddenly. Now we are waking up a bit. However, there are so many other pandemics that make people die and we don’t realize it, we look elsewhere. We are somewhat unaware in face of the tragedies that are happening in the world at this time. I only want to mention to you an official statistic of the first four months of this year, which does not refer to the coronavirus pandemic but another. In the first four months of this year, 3.7 million people died of hunger. There is the pandemic of hunger. In four months, almost four million people <died>. Today’s prayer to ask the Lord to stop this pandemic, must make us think of the other pandemics in the world. There are so many — the pandemic of war, of hunger, and so many others! However, what is important is that today — together and thanks to the courage that the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity had – we were invited to pray, each one according to his own Tradition and to observe a day of penance and fasting and also of charity, of help to others. This is what is important. We heard in the Book of Jonah that the Lord — when He saw how the people reacted, who converted, the Lord halted, He halted what He wanted to do.
May God stop this tragedy, may He stop this pandemic. May God have mercy on us and also halt the many other awful pandemics: that of hunger, of war, of children without education. And we ask this as brothers, all together. May God bless us all and have mercy on us all.
The Pope Invited the Faithful to Make a Spiritual Communion, with this Prayer:
My Jesus, I believe You are really present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. . As I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As if You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You. Do not permit me to be ever separated from You.
Pope Francis ended the celebration with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. At the end of the Mass, the Pope thanked Tommaso Pallottino, the sound technician of the Dicastery for Communication, who accompanied him in these live broadcasts and today was his last day of work before his retirement. “May the Lord bless him and accompany him in the new stage of life,” prayed Pope Francis.
Before leaving the Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the Marian antiphon Regina Caeli” was intoned, sung in Eastertide:
Regina caeli laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
(Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
Christ, whom you bore in your womb, alleluia,
Is Risen as He promised, alleluia.
Pray for us to the Lord, alleluia).