A Pastoral Message from Bishop Ignatius Osamu Irie
Towards Holy Week and Easter
To All the people of the Diocese of Yokohama
The Peace of the Lord
Because of the infection of the COVID-19, on the 27th of February, I asked the parishes to stop Sunday services on the 1st and 8th of March and limit the services and meetings to small ones until the 12th. I suppose and regret that this causes confusion and worries among you, and apologize for it. At the same time, I thank you for understanding and accepting this irregular situation to stop Sunday services so calmly.
In accordance with the consultation at the diocesan standing committee meeting on the 10th of March, I decided to extend the stopping of Sunday services from the 15th to the 29th of March.
As for the Novel Coronavirus we cannot find any indication of its resolution. We are holding the standing committee meeting on the 24th of March, again, and will consult the services after Holy Week and indicate the possible way to practice at that time.
We feel spiritual thirsty that we cannot receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ on Sundays when we commemorate the resurrection of our Lord. This thirsty is not only to the bread as the food in this life but also to the Life and Word of the Lord. As far as we live in this world we cannot live without Lord Jesus and we need to feed on his body and blood continually. We are now feeling deep thirsty to the food of life which is given by the Lord and every word that comes from the mouth of God. Being unable to receive the body and blood of the Lord as usual, we are beginning to find what we really need, and what we must seek for.
Please remember that in most parishes the clergy prays for the parishioners regularly, and I recommend you to pray at home or other places. At the cathedral, the bishop and the dean Kobayashi celebrate Holy Communion at 11 am on the Sundays during this season.
I recommend those in an advanced age and in illness to keep Sundays praying in one heart with the prayers on Sundays at home or in your places.
Hoping the day of celebration of the resurrection of the Lord with regards to the agony on the cross of the Lord, let us spend this season together and overcome this situation.
I pray for the eternal peace of the souls of those who passed away of the infection of COVID-19 and recovery of the infected and especially those in a serious illness.
In the Lord
The Rt. Revd Ignatius Osamu Irie
Bishop of Yokohama