In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem that God is asleep, unsympathetic, or not hearing prayers and supplications, but in fact He is in the storm letting nature take its course, Bishop Robert Llanos of St John’s-Basseterre said in an official statement to the Diocese, March 23.
Bishop Llanos began that his task was not an easy one as he was speaking to faithful in circumstances that are unprecedented in modern history.
He believed at times like these citizens cannot continue living as they have always been, despite the temptation to hold on to the familiar and normal life routines and behaviours. The Bishop observed change for many people is an extremely difficult experience but, in these times, it becomes necessary and essential for preserving life.
Bishop Llanos questioned, “Do we really think Jesus would let the boat sink with Him and His beloved disciples in it?…No, He has the power to calm the storm, but He wants our faith to grow. He wants us to put our faith in Him, not in our own perceived goodness or virtue of righteousness but in Him,” Bishop Llanos said.
He believed sight may have been lost in the mystery of God’s presence in the world today, as idols, including ourselves, have replaced Jesus and the power of His love and His Word, and maybe He is calling all back once again to a spirit of wonder and awe in His presence.
“Whatever God’s purpose is in this coronavirus storm raging around us and in our lives, Jesus’ instructions are clear ‘Have faith’. Trust the God who loves us… and with this confidence begin to act lovingly and courageously as every disciple should,” he said.
The pandemic and the changes it has brought is not an excuse to stop living but a reason to start growing, the Bishop asserted.
The response of every Catholic in the Diocese must be one of faith inspired by love for God and neighbour, he said. Bishop Llanos invited all to accept graciously and with immense discipline the changes and difficulties that are now present. At the heart of the response as Catholics must be an ever-deepening prayer life and a profound caring in the service of others.
The Bishop then suggested all citizens obey and implement all instructions given by the government and their agencies, avoid panic behaviour, rumours and false news, treat everyone with respect, reverence and be as generous to the needs of others.
Bishop Llanos advised that although all Catholic churches in Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat and Tortola will be closed in the first instance March 21 – April 4, to facilitate the spiritual and pastoral needs of the faithful, all Catholics are expected to participate in weekend and Holy Week Masses and Liturgies streamed live from Facebook page ‘Catholic Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre’ and on Catholic Radio 89.7 FM.
He closed his statement praying that God will bring an end to this scourge everywhere in the world. “The prayers of your Bishop, priests and deacons are with you all and we look forward to when we can physically gather again to praise and glorify the Lord in the fellowship of one another,” Bishop Llanos said.