With a small number of people already exposed to the virus, we need to be responsible in how we as South African’s respond to it. Carefully considered and planned action is needed by each one of us and as a community. How should we respond as individuals?
It is quite natural to be anxious about the risk of infection to oneself, family, friends and others. We watched the China response to the virus unfold. It is now clear that the risk of infection is highest in certain situations such as large gatherings of people, places such as airports and on aeroplanes. The guidelines are clear – if you show signs of symptoms, go and see a doctor.
To protect yourself from infection, wash your hands regularly, don’t touch your face, mouth or eyes, keep away from people who are sick and coughing. Use a mask if you are sick or need to be in close proximity to sick people. How we as the St Patrick’s community are responding? Our aim is to ensure that people feel safe to come to church and can worship without feeling anxious. Those who are sick must know they are supported.
We are going to:
- Use a new way of greeting one another at the time of the peace – by greeting one another with our hands together fingers pointing upwards, and bowing one’s head. This is a very respectful greeting used by people in Asia – often accompanied by the word ‘Namaste’.
- We will celebrate the Eucharist as usual, but at the time of Communion, only wafers will be offered. This is to reduce anxiety about sharing a common cup. This practice is what the Catholics already do as part of their tradition.
- If you are sick with flu, cold or cough, please don’t come to church. It would be best for everyone if you stayed at home and joined us in the live streamed service (www.facebook.com/stpatrickonthehill).
- If you are staying home and away from church because you are sick, please keep connected. Use the whatsapp, website (www.stpatrickonthehill.co.za) etc.
- If you are ill, please keep the lay ministers informed so the church can support you with pastoral care and help where possible other needs.
A prayer we can use:
Holy and loving God, we bring to you our anxiety about this virus and the risk we each have of becoming infected.
Help us not to panic but to know your peace beyond all understanding.
Help us to be responsible by the protecting ourselves from risks to our own health and to be respectful and responsible about others’ health.
We pray for all those who are sick, those who fear they are infected, those who are sick or in recovery.
We long for you to bring healing and hope to all people.
We remember too those who have died and all who grieve.
Holy God, inspire those doing research, give courage and wisdom to all health workers and protection to all, including health support staff.
Help us to live as your people of love and wholeness as we face this challenge as individuals and together as a community.
May we shine with the love that we share.
Holy Spirit, we ask for blessing and love to surround this whole situation.
St Patrick on-the-Hill
7 th March 2020