(Cebu City, April 4) Archbishop Jose S. Palma gave an assuring and comforting message to the people in one of his Sunday reflections, which he regularly delivers through Facebook Live in this extraordinary time of COVID19 when people are hindered from going to the church to participate in liturgical activities in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus COVID19.
He knows that the Cebuanos in particular are more than eager to participate in church activities especially in the upcoming Holy Week, but it is just unfortunate that because of COVID19 it is not possible at the moment to gather as one people of God. He assures the people of the prayers of the Church for everyone, especially those who are gravely affected by COVID19: the sick; the dying; those who have been separated from families; the frontliners. “Please know that the Church is never distant because she is close to you in prayer,” he said.
He likened the Church to a mother who never sleeps at night when her child is sick. Likewise, the Church “keeps vigil for us her children who are experiencing the severe crisis in this moment of our history.”
“Even in the midst of pain and suffering, we believe in the consoling presence of God,” he said.
He reminded the people of the significance of the announcement of plenary indulgence by Pope Francis last March 27 in this time of crisis.
With the plenary indulgence, under this extraordinary circumstances, people (the sick, dying, isolated, those who care for the sick, and the front-liners) are given the assurance of God’s mercy. Archbishop Palma explains that under ordinary situations people receive the sacrament physically and thus receive God’s mercy and goodness. However, in this time of COVID19, “All you need to do is approach God in prayer and ask God for forgiveness,” and with the plenary indulgence given by the Church, remission of all temporal punishment and suffering brought about by sin is made possible. With this, he encouraged the people to believe and not to doubt that God is able to forgive sins.
This, however, does not mean that people cannot continue observing piety. People, especially those who are staying at home, can pray the rosary, follow liturgical activities through the different media platforms, meditate on the stations of the cross and pray, and whenever the time comes that it may be possible again, he encouraged them to receive the sacraments.