Message from Archbishop Kenneth Richards, Archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica on COVID 19:
COVID-19: Invitation to be prudent at this time.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In view of developments surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) which, thankfully, has not reached our shores, it is important to remain level headed and not panic. We have managed the Flu which has been more devastating.
While the coronavirus has not reached our shores, NORMAL FLU preventions and precautionary measures are to be practised.
Basic hygiene is necessary.
Wash hands with soap and water frequently, and use hand sanitizers especially where water is not readily available.
Regarding attendance at Mass, anyone with a cold, sneezing bouts, has fever, or feels ill, should stay at home.
This principle is applicable especially if the virus comes to the Island. If possible follow Mass on internet, radio, or TV.
In your homes, use disinfectant wipes on counters, doorknobs, tables etc. to restrict the spread of bacteria and virus.
As the Bishops of England and Wales have said, remember the following to prevent the spread of the flu:
Catch it (i.e. sneeze into a tissue or in your elbow if you do not have a tissue on you),
Bin it (put it in the trash bin),
Kill it (wash your hands with soap and water),
Do not touch your face (especially eyes, nose and mouth), unless you have washed your hands!
Cover your mouth whenever you cough.
During this flu season and as a precaution against the Coronavirus, the kiss of peace is suspended and we ask that people refrain from joining their hands during the Our Father. Pastors and congregants are advised not to hug or kiss others as a precautionary measure. Let your greetings be warm but verbal only, touching of elbows is permissible.
Pastors, Deacons, and Lay Ministers distributing Holy Communion are to wash their hands thoroughly or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Reception of Holy Communion on the tongue or on the hand is permissible according to personal preference. An Immunologist says risk of passing on infection is not greater or lesser either way. However, Ministers take great care not to touch both the hand and tongue of the recipient when placing the Sacred Host on the tongue or in the hand.
Distribution of the Precious Blood is restricted for this period in consideration for the persons who may have concern for transmission of the virus from the Chalice, even though this risk is very low.
Regarding Holy Communion, our Catholic Faith reminds us that Our Blessed Lord is fully contained – Body, Blood, and Divinity – under the appearances of Bread and Wine. Therefore, when one receives Communion under one species only, Our Blessed Lord is fully received.
This is a time to rediscover the practice of Spiritual Communion which, St. John Paul II encourages in his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”. St. Thomas Aquinas described Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament”, in circumstances when we cannot receive Him in sacramental communion. Spiritual Communion is encouraged if one fears contracting the virus, or one is sick, or one stays home as a precautionary measure. See below “Act of Spiritual Communion”
Add a drop of bleach to Holy Water to be used in fountains for blessing. Proportion should be as done for drinking water after a hurricane or flood.
Please be prepared should the Coronavirus have an increasing negative impact of economic activity such as limiting imports.
Please do not indulge in, hoarding but remain virtuous and sober.
Please become sensitive to the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable.
The current guidelines are to be implemented so as to establish a routine just in case the Coronavirus visits our Island. Hopefully not! We pray there will be no need to escalate these directives.
In years past, when plagues affected Europe and other parts of the World, Bishops as Spiritual leaders would gather their flocks together to offer Masses, processions and prayers to stop the spread of disease. Pope St. Leo the Great saved the City of Rome with such prayers. Our Faith teaches us that this is still possible today.
Brothers and Sisters, I ask all members of the Archdiocese to pray the Memorare Novena (9 prayers daily – see prayer below) asking Divine Protection for our Country. I also ask all the Priests and Religious to celebrate the Votive Mass from the Roman Missal for protection in these circumstances.
May The Lord have pity on us and save us from this coronavirus.
Yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Kenneth D. Richards Archbishop of Kingston
Act of Spiritual Communion:
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament, I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You in my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already here and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother, to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen!