Diocese of Trenton Bishop says keeping calm is key during Covid-19 pandemic
Calmness is a key in weathering the storm.
As the amount of positive cases of Covid-19 coronavirus rise at the Jersey Shore and beyond, there's a lot of anxiousness and panic over the disease itself and everything surrounding it.
"The first thing I always say in a time of crisis is that it's very important for people to keep as calm as possible," Catholic Diocese of Trenton Bishop David O'Connell told WOBM News.
There are a number of restrictions in place across the state as well to limit face-to-face exposure and practice social distancing in an effort to flatten the curve and lower the risk of exposure to the virus.
The Catholic Diocese of Trenton, along with other dioceses across the state, have or are cancelling all masses among other church functions as a result of another state mandate not allowing more than 50 people to gather at once in a setting.
"What we're being told is that the largest danger is crowds and so I had to respond quickly. It's not something that I desire but it's something that is necessary and that is to suspend masses and other special church gatherings and events," Bishop O'Connell said. "It's a huge sacrifice but one that we have to make for the health and well being of the people for the common good."
With masses suspended for the time being and no Eucharist available, many Catholics are wondering how to maintain their spiritual life.
"There are a number of masses that are broadcasted (on social media and TV) so people have an opportunity to hear the readings, a homily and observe a mass as it would be celebrated in any of the parishes," Bishop O'Connell said. "There's a lot of religious programming that's very good to watch as well, people have their own Bibles to read the scripture, pray the rosary and other personal prayers. There are many things that people can do to nurture their spiritual life."
With Easter Sunday less than a month away and Holy Week that leads up to it, there are serious conversations going on right now about possibly continuing the suspension of mass beyond the current April 3 date.
"I have consulted with the other Bishops in the state to see what they're doing. We want to have a coherent approach to this, but we haven't made those decisions yet," Bishop O'Connell said. "I suspect that the April 3 date is going to be fluid and that it moves maybe further into April. If that occurs then obviously we'd have to suspend the Holy Week services and the Sacred Triduum."
However, Bishop O'Connell is exploring the idea right now of possibly live streaming the Chrism Mass that takes place on the Monday of Holy Week on Facebook, and they may also do the same thing for the other services but all of this is still in the infancy stages.
"I'm working on all that," Bishop O'Connell said.
There is hope for a light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, we just don't know right now when and where it'll be, which can bring on a number of emotions for people and their faith.
"Faith is confident assurance of what we hope for and a conviction about things we do not see, it's from the Letter to the Hebrews. Our faith has to remain strong," Bishop O'Connell said. "The advice I'd give to people of faith is taken from the letter to the Romans where St. Paul writes, 'Be joyful in hope, persevering in hardship and keep praying regularly'. To me, that's the recipe for approaching this and to do it the best you can in a spirit of calm and to listen to the good advice we're receiving from State officials and health officials."
"Don't lose faith, don't lose heart and keep calm."
You can listen to the interview Bishop O'Connell did with WOBM News on 'Jersey Shore Journal' Sunday morning at 6:00 am on 92.7 WOBM, 94.3ThePoint, 105.7TheHawk and Beach Radio 1160/1310 AM.
Bisho O'Connell also recently addressed the Diocese of Trenton: