As much as we don’t want to cause panic or throw fuel on the fire of hysteria concerning the coronavirus, we need to take it seriously. Medical doctors are very clear that this is a highly contagious virus and is much worse than the seasonal flu.
In Europe, Italy has been hard hit by the illness. The government has closed all schools in the country, including the pontifical universities in Rome, as a precautionary measure. The ban will be in effect until at least March 15 and could be renewed if the virus doesn’t let up.
According to reports, the streets of Rome are rather empty, as by some accounts tourism has dropped off by 90 percent.
Some dioceses in Italy have stopped the public celebration of Mass. In Rome itself, as of this writing, public Masses are still permitted, with Communion offered to the faithful under the Sacred Species of the Consecrated Host. There’s no sign of peace at Mass, and church-goers are encouraged to receive Communion in the hand, but are not required to do so.
In France, the healing pool at the Shrine of Lourdes has been closed for a few weeks. People in Europe, Asia and the Middle East are concerned.
When we hear that this is just another version of the flu, that’s incorrect. It’s more infectious and deadly, most especially for those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems.
We are all part of each other’s lives, and as good citizens and good Christians, we need to take care of ourselves and each other.
Pray for those suffering from this illness, those who are helping to care for them and those whose lives are dramatically affected by the virus.
Perhaps our best gift would be to offer a prayer for the ill (in addition to trying to stay healthy ourselves):
Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer of the sick, we turn to you in this time of illness. O dearest comforter of the troubled, alleviate our worry and sorrow with your gentle love, and grant us the grace and strength to accept this burden. Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place our sick under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge your will and know that whatever you do, you do for the love of us. Amen.