Public Eucharistic celebrations in the city-state were suspended indefinitely ten days ago. However, the Archdiocese is broadcasting the Mass every day on its YouTube and radio channels. For every Christian Church, the emergency has become an occasion to promote a message of unity.
Singapore (AsiaNews) – For the second time in a row, Singapore Catholics followed Sunday Mass on screen or radio, at home or with relatives and friends.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the Archdiocese has regularly updated its directives and steps to prevent the spread of the disease among the faithful.
On 14 February, Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye released a pastoral letter in which he announced the suspension of Eucharistic celebrations indefinitely in order to discourage public gatherings.
However, to ensure that the faithful can remain in communion with the Church despite the outbreak, the Archdiocese decided to broadcast Mass every day on its YouTube and radio channels.
For Christians the issue is particularly important. As the new coronavirus spread across Asia and around the world, Singapore's health authorities discovered that about a third of the 89 reported clusters linked to two Protestant communities: the Life Church and Missions Singapore (six cases), in the east of the city, and the two churches of the Grace Assembly of God (23 cases).
The Paya Lebar Methodist Church is not considered a cluster, but someone with Covid-19 had visited the place of worship before being admitted to hospital.
Of all the religious communities in Asia, the Archdiocese of Singapore and the Diocese of Hong Kong were the first to suspend services in response to the outbreak.
In the city-state, the emergency has become an opportunity for all Christian denominations to send a message of unity. The faithful have been invited to pray at noon every day for the end of the epidemic, and for the safety of healthcare staff, health authorities and patients. Every community has urged its members to be "socially responsible” and not to give in to fear.
On the website of the Archdiocese of Singapore, the online Mass is available at 10 am on Sunday and 1 pm from Monday to Saturday.
The Archdiocesan Communications Office (ArchComm) posted some testimonials from social media on how Catholics took part in yesterday's Eucharistic celebration.
Some assembled with relatives, wearing their “Sunday best” to follow the Mass. Others “sanctified” an otherwise secular television screen by adding a Bible, a crucifix, and other sacred items, reported an article posted yesterday.
“We participated as if we were in church: stand, sit and kneel accordingly. We also dressed up properly,” said GBI, a mother of two.
Citing YouTube statistics, the Archdiocese reported that the Mass was viewed by 27,000 screens. Since many families watched together, this suggests that the number of worshippers was much higher.
One of those people was RX, mother of two, who said she “Prayed the Mass with my family in our living room… It was beautiful. My usually chatty sons were so quiet and concentrated fully.”
Some Catholics expressed sadness in seeing the Eucharist without being able to receive it. “I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly,” said MT. “I was tearing throughout and broke down at the Spiritual Communion.”
RL was sad as well. “I cried all the time, especially when we had to say ‘Peace be with you’ and there was no one except my bedroom furniture.”
For some Singaporean Catholics, the live broadcast on the Internet was an opportunity to share the Mass with relatives who have strayed from the faith or who are usually too sick to go to church.
“My sis(ter) had stopped going to church for a long time,” explained JF. “We had been praying for her… Now that the Mass is brought to homes, she participated together with us.”
KG too experienced the Mass with family. “Father-in-law [is] immobile in bed. Mother-in-law in wheelchair. Wife and I [were] seated. First time in a long time, [we] participated in Mass [together]. We felt great peace.”
About 16 per cent of the 869 Catholics who responded to a survey by the Archdiocese sanctified Sunday in a different way than those who watched the live stream.
Some recited the Liturgy of the Hours, others the Rosary or the Crown of Divine Mercy. Some also read us texts from the Bible or the family prayer promoted by Archbishop Goh.
(Photo Credit: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore).