By Kaelanne Jordan
Archbishop Jason Gordon has said that suspending all Masses and Services in light of COVID-19, was “absolutely” the “hardest decision” he has ever had to make as Archbishop.
“Because I worked so hard to get people to come to Mass. It goes totally against everything that I had to do. And I agonise with it but at the end of the day the science had to win,” the Archbishop said during a Ask the Archbishop live chat on Instagram on Tuesday night (March 17).
The Archbishop shared that in the midst of T&T and the world’s global challenge with COVID-19, the role of the Church is to keep faith alive during this very “dark moment” of history.
“To understand that whatever else is happening God is in the midst of all of this and everything is going to work for God’s greater glory. It’s going to be a difficult time. It’s going to be odd in so many different ways,” Archbishop Gordon told Catholic Media Services Limited’s (CAMSEL) Digital Media Manager Tracy Chimming- Lewis.
The social and economic impacts, the death count, the inability to face the challenge of COVID-19 and the exponential rate at which the virus rose is “crazy”, the Archbishop said.
Of the question of what is being considered for the celebration of Holy Week, the Archbishop responded that he wished he could “tear open” Heaven for four seconds to say “Jesus, Holy Week, what to do?”.
The Archbishop said that the Archdiocese is “waiting” and the decision will depend on what happens to the country after the 14-day lockdown. He shared that every Holy Week, the priests celebrate Chrism Mass— a public celebration where clergy renew their vows to God.
“And that’s very sacred to us. So its not as if the laity alone are feeling this pain. A priest not having a congregation, you have no idea what that is like…to do a Mass on an empty hall as I did on Sunday…that’s just different. So we are all feeling this together and we are in this together,” the Archbishop said.
Archbishop Gordon assured that the Archdiocese will find ways to ensure those in need of pastoral care especially the vulnerable groups like the elderly are cared for.
Lent, the Archbishop said, is a time of being in the desert. “And this [COVID-19] has put us in the desert. And to consciously understand that we are in the desert is a very good starting point,” he said.
Now that families are at home and “huddling” together, one thing they can do is put in some moments of prayer every day. He invited all to use this time at home to return to faith as a family by praying the rosary and reading the scripture of the day consistently.
In the spirit of being dynamic Catholics, the Archbishop suggested families inculcate reading Catholic books such as The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, Lord Teach Us To Pray and Meditations in the Upper Room
As Masses and Services are suspended until further notice, Catholics are now urged to fulfil their Sunday obligation by participating in Mass on Trinity TV or on Power 102 FM. Commenting on this, Chimming-Lewis sought some advice with regards to the posture faithful should assume when participating in Mass at home.
“So you want to know if you not supposed to be in your PJs?” the Archbishop quipped. He explained faithful should enter into the Mass as if they were in Church. He suggested persons sit together as a family and participate fully in the Mass. Some persons, the Archbishop said, light a candle next to their television as a reminder that Christ the light is coming into their homes, and others display a crucifix next to their television.
He added that he is trying to make the experience as “inclusive” as possible but similar to a “mini-retreat” that if viewers view the Mass every day, then the journey of Lent and the scriptures will help us to find God’s voice in the midst of it all.
“Would God be upset if we are afraid of our present situation?” was the question one viewer asked.
“I would say not,” the Archbishop responded. He reminded viewers that God appeared every time saying ‘Do not be afraid’.
“He knows how terrified we get,” but what is done with the fear is important, he said.
In this vein, the Archbishop encouraged the practice of Christian meditation. By meditating, the Archbishop said, persons are “seeping” Christ into every breath in their body and inviting Him to take full control of every part of their lives. There are many benefits to Christian mediation: persons will notice that their heart rate drops, the anxiety decreases and ultimately Christ, and not the anxiety, is at the centre of their lives.
How to meditate
For beginners, set you timer for five or six minutes then increase to 20 minutes.