“Faith alone will not save us,” said Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada in a March 3 statement on the novel coronavirus to faithful of the diocese.
In it, Bishop Harvey observed that COVID-19 has begun to challenge both faith and love for each other.
An epidemic of any kind invites the questions: ‘Where is God in all of this?’; ‘What can be learnt about God, ourselves and neighbour through this experience?’.
The Catholic experience of faith, Bishop Harvey asserted, tells that God does not send disasters. Rather, God loves us in those moments which threaten to overwhelm.
“God is with us as we face COVID-19. Our response must be both faith and good works,” the statement said. The good works required are rooted in Christian charity, an active concern for the other and common sense based on our increasing understanding of this epidemic.
Bishop Harvey believed that the virus gives the faithful a context in which to live their Lenten disciplines: prayer, fasting and acts of charity “with a deeper sensitivity to the dangers which we may be to others and others to us”.
“The unity which we celebrate and share in the Eucharist is all the more reason to find the right balance between self-protection and active care for brothers and sisters.”
The Bishop then urged all to co-operate with the authorities, especially the Ministries of Health and Education, as they guide the nation in the days to come. He asked all to avoid fake news, sharing only what they know to be true. The crisis, he added, can also have serious social and economic consequences if we do not treat with it rightly. He prayed for an effective response to this virus soon.
Many bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, which encompasses territories of the French, Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean, issued precautionary measures for Catholic Masses and Services.
“Please continue to pray for the scientists and doctors that are urgently and diligently trying to produce a vaccine to help to eradicate this virus. Also pray for the healing for those infected,” urged Bishop Gerard County of Kingstown in his March 5 statement to the Church in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Caribbean territories with COVID-19 cases are the Dominican Republic, St Martin, St Barthelemy, French Guiana, Martinique and Jamaica.
Prayer in the face of COVID-19
Bishop Harvey issued the following prayer in his statement, which was adapted from Kerry Weber
Lord Jesus Christ, you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness”. You have been with us as we faced hurricanes and earthquakes, in all our poverty and pain.
Come to our aid now, as we face the global spread of the coronavirus. Be with us in this time of anxiety, uncertainty and sorrow.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. Be their comfort and strength. May they regain their health through quality medical care.
Deliver us from panic and fear, which prevent nations from working together and people from helping one another.
Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection, your wisdom, your peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know Your peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks.
Through this period of anxiety and pain, bring us all to a stronger faith, wider charity and a deeper appreciation of Your active presence in our lives.
Lord Jesus, hear us and heal us. Amen.