A Mass to stop COVID-19, and save Sri Lanka and the world
by Melani Manel Pererea

Christians held a special Eucharistic service to invoke divine intercession against the pandemic. The Lord's guidance and protection are needed at a time of “extreme need”. Believers call for “mercy”. So far, 130,000 cases have been reported in the country with more than 800 deaths.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lankan Christians held a special Eucharistic celebration to call for divine intercession against the COVID-19 pandemic to save the country and the world.

Meanwhile, the government has reinforced restrictive measures to stop the spread of the virus, further limiting freedom of movement between provinces as of midnight today, 11 May.

According to data provided by the Epidemiology Unit at the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, 128,479 cases have been reported so far, with 105,611 people recovered and 827 deaths.

The government has introduced stricter rules to contain the pandemic, also because of the crisis situation in neighbouring India and its possible repercussions on the island nation.

This led to the idea of celebrating a Mass last Saturday at the All Saints’ Church in Borella, Colombo, which was broadcast by Catholic Verbum TV.

Fr Jude Sharman Fernando, along with Fathers Peter Subaraj and Mahima Gunawardane, led the trilingual service (English, Sinhalese and Tamil).

Because of social distancing requirements, only a small group of nuns from a nearby convent were present during the prayer for the end of the pandemic.

In his homily, Fr Jude Sharman Fernando invoked God’s guidance and protection at this time of “extreme need” and great anxiety, “a moment of disaster”.

“The deadly virus seems to be crippling, disturbing, paralysing, and destroying human lives and the world, in so many ways,” said the clergyman. “But we ask God, why? What wrong has man done? What evil has man done, to suffer so much?”

“Our God is a God who is compassionate and kind, who is very forgiving and merciful. Our God is never ever revengeful. Then why is man going through such suffering?”

For Fr Fernando, the time has come to “pray to God to be close and near to the Lord, the Heavenly Father, [. . .] to repent for our sins, reconcile ourselves with our sister and brother”, [. . .] “to live the divine word and observe the commandments,” relying on his power.

During the intention of the faithful – in Sinhalese, Tamil and English – prayers were said for those who are physically and morally debilitated by COVID-19.

A special intention was also addressed to the country’s leaders, that they may lead the nation with wisdom, heart, fairness and honesty during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Many people followed the service via Verbum TV, praying for Sri Lanka and those affected by the virus in the world.

Sebastian Fernando, Calista Cooray, Raajan Silva and Priyantha Yatiwela told AsiaNews that “we occasionally need such spiritual events because now we only have God's mercy. We are in a very dangerous situation as a country.”