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  • Writer's pictureSimbahang Lingkod ng Bayan

Our Prayer in the Time of COVID-19

Our country and the world finds itself today facing the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which has put all of us in danger. The national government has responded to this outbreak with instructions for a community quarantine, deployment of limited testing kits, and the mobilization of resources to provide some aid yet much still needs to be done. We call on the different sectors of our society to come together and face these difficult days together with courage and compassion. The past few days have especially been difficult and confusing, yet we must not forget that it is with those who are more vulnerable that will find it most difficult to move through this crisis and must be central to our response to the outbreak.

In these trying times, we call on everyone towards a deeper and more genuine solidarity with those around us, especially with those most in need.

For our national and local government — we pray for full transparency regarding the capacity of our public health system, the allocation of resources, and the strategies being undertaken in order to address this pandemic. Full transparency of the plans and clarity of the parameters in place to address the outbreak is owed to all Filipino people. We are wary of the consequences that an improperly managed community quarantine may have on the Filipino people and ask that diligence and compassion be at the forefront of decisions made hereon. We pray for the honest acknowledgment of the difficulties being faced by the government in its response so that the private sector and civil society groups can, in solidarity, provide the needed support for our public service providers. However, the survival of the Filipino people cannot be contingent on the generosity of a few. It is the duty of the government to take immediate and competent action to ensure the health, safety, and quality of life of all of its constituents, especially those of the most poor.

We pray for the necessary support of our health-care practitioners, in the form of equipment and resources they need in order to perform the medical tasks expected of them, such as personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and food. We pray that clear, decisive, and immediately implementable policies and financial support be given to daily-wage workers, informal workers, transportation workers, and contractual workers who are affected directly by the community quarantine. We pray also that protection, aid, and access to food and medication be extended actively to informal settler communities who cannot afford to participate in the recommended social distancing. We pray that resources be allocated into mass testing and mass disinfection so as to properly ascertain the extent of the problem we face. We pray that power is not abused and perverted during this time. We pray for humility and proper decorum from our officials, that they do not put their own agenda at the forefront of their actions, but instead prioritize the common good. We pray for creativity, courage, and a continued commitment of our government employees to resolving this issue in spite of the turbulent situation they also find themselves in within the bureaucracy of the government.

For our military and police — we pray for your health and safety as you continue to follow the mandate of serving and protecting the Filipino people and are thus exposed to the virus. However, we pray also for the proper and humane implementation of this mandate in spite of its vagueness: that no violations occur under this quarantine, that no abuses of power be allowed, that the Filipino people and their safety from this outbreak be the first and only concern during this period of time.

For the Church — especially the parishes most close to the poor and vulnerable, we pray that you keep a vigilant and watchful eye over those around us. We pray that in our mission of peace and justice, that we remain stalwart against any possible form of violence that might occur against the Filipino people during these times. To separate ourselves from our neighbors is unimaginable, especially by the faithful. We pray that we all remain committed towards the poorest of the poor: the elderly, the urban poor communities, the workers, that they may receive the assistance and the community that they need as we face this pandemic. This turbulent situation demands of us to practice brave and creative fidelity to our mission of justice and we pray that we make the necessary responses in our communities, guided by a preferential care for the poor. We implore that we live out the invitation of CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles, that “this is a time of difficulty but also a time for growing in true discipleship as we strive to follow the Lord in selfless love and service of others.”

For business leaders and owners — we pray for compassion and justice, that mechanisms be put into place so as to avoid compromising the health of your workers simply for your operations. We pray that genuine and necessary financial support be given to your workers and their families during these trying times and that our care for one another takes precedence over profit. The crisis we face today is extraordinary and cannot be assuaged with the traditional mechanisms of compensation for absences and sickness that will continue to burden the Filipino worker beyond the crisis; we pray for your courage to do what is just and loving in these times. Let us not take advantage of this public crisis so as to further exploit those who maintain our workplaces.

For the healthy and able-bodied — we continue to pray for your health. However, the social distancing we maintain should not mean distancing from those in need. While we should not have to rely on generosity for the basic needs of all people to be met, we pray for your support citizen-led efforts to provide the assistance and equipment needed by our healthcare practitioners that the government may not be able to immediately provide. We pray that you join us in vigilance, especially in ensuring that those who are gravely disadvantaged and at their most vulnerable are not set aside as the country goes through this crisis. We pray that our response to the virus is not to shut ourselves off from one another and protect only ourselves, but to find ways in which the burden of facing this pandemic can be shared with one another. We pray that as we look towards the end of this outbreak, that we insist that our most vulnerable countrymen be part of that future.

The Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan implores everyone to work through this pandemic together: that the only way of surviving and continuing our mission of building up the nation and moving towards the Kingdom of God is that we do this hand in hand. In keeping distance from one another now, we will later build a better future for our country together.

As we move beyond the outbreak, let the lives lost be a reminder of the policies that need to be changed, the support needed to develop more fully our public health, food, and transportation systems, the loopholes that allow our workers to be exploited in spite of danger to their lives, the people and systems that need to be held to account, and let us build something better from this. We pray that we all overcome and emerge from this crisis, more loving and more committed to the mission.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, guide and walk us through this dark valley. We continue to ask for the intercession of our Mother and of the saints. Our Lady, health of the Sick, pray for us. Saint Roch, pray for us. Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, pray for us.

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