Greetings and best wishes to all of you.
I have sent messages of greetings and update during my sabbatical and this pandemic encounter through Father Jeremy in the past few weeks. This time, I want to reach you all and encourage you. We are in this together.
Our sabbatical program began well on Jan 20th. Having done several pilgrimages and had several lectures in our program. On February 23rd we got word that all major museums, churches and tourist centers in Northern Italy were closed due to the Corvid 19 virus. The trip to the Holy Land scheduled for February 27th -Match 6th was cancelled last minute. Classes were scheduled to continue March 9th. On Monday 9th of March, partial lockdown was announced. Our retreat master and some lecturers were unable to commit to our schedule. The next day, Tuesday March 10th the country went on total lockdown. This meant, only groceries and pharmacies were open. Only workers with authorized documents would be allowed to transit around town. The volatility of the situation meant we reschedule everything but since many of the priests were scheduled to be home by Easter and with the 14-day quarantine period requirement in force many scattered using all possible routes to get home. Plans where scheduled and cancelled every other hour. Nothing was definite. There was a lot of frustration and disappointment. Our college encouraged we make plans sooner than later. Many of our group were able to depart by Friday March 13th.
I decided to come to Kenya earlier than planned. My flight originally was scheduled for March 17th, but it was cancelled. March 13th Kenya announced its first case of Corvid-19. I managed to find a new flight March 14th in the evening arriving in the morning of Sunday 15th. That evening the government shut boarders, except for Kenyan nationals and Permanent residents. All schools were closed, and colleges were given two days to effect closer. Public gatherings were limited. A hype for hygiene ensured with sanitizers and had washing stations appearing everywhere in public places. Currently Kenya has 7 cases and a few awaiting results.
I am in self-isolation. Spending most of the time alone with the Lord. I am healthy and well no symptoms at all.
As you continue to make adjustments, I encourage you to be hopeful and to know that things are really going to be managed. We need to be docile and humble. It was difficult to have our many churches in Rome closed. However, I saw faith grow as everyone went home including all of us at the college and began to pray, be close to the Lord and to trust in his providence. We had a day fasting and prayer. We had several men walking around campus praying the rosary privately. Our Marian grottos had a guest every so often. Faith was a love; the Lord was in our midst and I could feel it.
Some people have thought to ignore the essential health directives and have resulted to serious consequences including death of loved ones. In Italy because the young mix so much with the elderly in their homes, we suspect this is why many of those vulnerable were infected and have died.
On Third Sunday of Lent, Jesus said, “there comes a time when you will worship in spirit and truth” John 4: 23-24. I have felt your unity and closeness during this time though spiritual and true worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. We might not be able to worship the way God has asked us during this pandemic, but he knows our need to get saved from this pandemic. I am convinced we can all rediscover the spirit that makes us want to congregate around the altar.
The directive from the diocese to cancel all public masses and large parish gatherings is difficult. This is not a decision taken lightly. On the other hand, it is meant to help us all during this pandemic. Despite all these, make a stronger commitment to Jesus during these circumstances. I recommend the following:
1. Daily recital of the Creed (Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed) We should never forget who believe in.
2. Make a spiritual communion - (From our Holy Father, to our bishops and priests daily Mass is being for the whole world including for you)
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
3. Recite the Rosary daily (if possible 7pm parish hour) You will learn the works of God through the mysteries.
4. Private visit to the Blessed Sacrament (Church is open 8:00am - 7pm Monday through Friday 9:00am - 7:00pm Saturday and Sunday)
5. Private confessions (Thursday noon, Saturday 10am and 3pm)
6. Contact the home bound and vulnerable (Call, text or email) loved ones to make sure they are well.
God knows in his wisdom what he has in store for us. He has allowed us to experience these times. Through his eyes we will see clearly. “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
Pray for me as I for you.
In Christ our hope
Fr. Gabriel Waweru
Blessed Sacrament Parish