Since yesterday the churches and places of worship have reopened to the public, albeit still with some limitations. The suffering of the faithful, but also the discovery of the importance of the royal liturgy and sacramental communion.
Cairo (AsiaNews) - As of yesterday, churches and all places of worship have been reopened for public celebrations, after a long period of lockdown. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government decided to close all houses of worship; we were very disappointed. Although it is a pandemic and these are hard times, we believe it is a time for prayer, more prayer in fact. Nonetheless, the churches submitted themselves to the law and order of the government as was done everywhere in the world.
Most of all, the confinement started during Lent, the Holy Week and the Feast after Holy Week, a time of condensed prayers with all the Liturgy of Lent and the Feast. Also, people were not able to understand the spiritual communion, although we tried to explain it. All Masses and Holy Liturgy were transmitted live online from many churches.
People who regularly attended church were very unhappy. Church is the place where The Lord is near, next to them, in front of them, the place where they are able to release all their feelings. By closing the churches, they felt God was distant in Heaven. Those who were not very keen to go to church felt they missed something very valuable and how they always took it for granted. Praying from home and attending Liturgy online is not the same. They missed Holy Communion very much, as they could not feel The Communion unless they really have it.
Now, finally, the churches are open, but with a limited number of attendees to respect social distancing, and certain health rules to prevent any transmission of infection.
With the decision of opening the churches, all parishioners are overwhelmed with happiness. This happiness is still not complete, because they cannot go everyday as the number is limited and they have to give a chance to each other. People long for the days when they are able to go to church whenever they wish, when they are free to attend whenever they decide, on the spot without reservations ahead of time, without uncomfortable measures like masks and distancing.
We are very happy, and we hope it will not happen again although there might be another wave.
*Parish priest at St Cyril Church, Heliopolis, Cairo Spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Egypt