Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Greetings of Christ’s peace to all of you!
Holy Week is upon us and the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa has issued new guidelines affecting our observance and celebration. The guidelines are consistent with the Vatican Decree issued on March 25, 2020, and the issuances by our civil authorities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s Holy Week, a sacred tradition in our Catholic journey, will be different since we continue remote attendance by parishioners, online liturgy, spiritual communion for all liturgical celebrations.
For many of our parishioners, this is the first time that we won’t be in our physical parish churches for the Sacred Triduum. We do miss you. Priest presiders feel somewhat different celebrating Mass without your physical presence, our dear parishioners. I ask for your understanding as we continue to do this for our safety and wellbeing.
With the warnings for the pandemic, our response and resilience as a community are once again put to the test. Just as our recovery from one of the most forceful super typhoons started to settle in, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, was announced as a threat to life and liberty—bringing it to the focus of every home and family. Its spread has imposed unyielding and rapidly changing conditions to every local, national, and global community. Daily life as we know it has shifted to new routines—social distancing, restricted movement and gatherings, unprecedented planning and procedures, and accelerated use of digital devices. All of these changes are important, precautionary, intended to preserve health, and through fervent prayer and united effort, life-saving.
Let us do our part. Let us unite to heed the guidance from our leaders and health care providers. With foremost effort and hope, we focus on Him who saves: Jesus. Let Him nurture our resilience and guide us to do what is right, in a spirit of prayerful reflection during this Holy Week. Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, highlighted that during the pandemic “we must try to stop the contagion without stopping our prayer.” St. Paul, in his Letter to the Thessalonians, has this to add “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17)
We thank all our dedicated health care workers, government leaders, first responders, volunteers, families as they regroup and take care of one another. We thank all our teachers for doing creative ways to be connected with their students online so that learning continues. We thank parents, first teachers in our families. May the Lord, the source of strength, guide them and keep them safe.
I also thank my fellow pastors in other faith denominations. We are one in prayer. And, in a special way, I thank my brother priests and deacons, religious sisters, staff, and volunteers for living out what it means to be members of the “one body of Christ.”
Thank you. God bless you. And have a blessed Holy Week.
Ryan P. Jimenez (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Most Rev. Ryan P. Jimenez, D.D. is the bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa.