Updated: September 03, 2021 10:00 AM GMT
Nuns load vegetables and fruits to deliver to people in need in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Catholics in Vietnam's southern archdiocese, which has become a Covid-19 epicenter, are encouraged to cling to hope to divine mercy and support one another to overcome the pandemic.
He said Covid-19 enters their homes and takes the lives of their relatives. Countless families face a lack of basic commodities and finance.
"Difficulties and challenges now are no longer just food and medical and financial supplies, but psychological and spiritual suffering because our loved ones are infected or have passed away hastily without immediate cremation. They will return in urns of their ashes," he said.
Noting hundreds of deaths are recorded daily, he said many priests and religious were infected with Covid-19 and quietly departed this life, while many others have recovered from the contagion.
Binh An Parish has recorded 70 deaths during the past two months and many other parishes have 10-20 deaths on average. Many families have two or three dead relatives, while some families have no one left.
We grieve and cry just as Jesus himself did when he stood before the coffin of the son of the widow of Naim and the tomb of Lazarus
"How can our hearts not ache when we witness these distressing scenes and see children left alone because their families died from Covid-19?" Archbishop Nang asked.
Noting that if one member suffers, all members suffer with it, the archbishop said the local Church is in communion with those patients bearing emotional and physical pain.
"We grieve and cry just as Jesus himself did when he stood before the coffin of the son of the widow of Naim and the tomb of Lazarus," he said.
The 68-year-old prelate urged local people to send out this message: Do not lose hope. Take hold of the hope set before us. St. Paul said: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
Archbishop Nang, who serves as deputy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said he and local priests celebrate daily Masses with special prayers for those who have died of the pandemic. Catholic families should recite prayers for the dead.
He pledged that priests and parishes will have a duty to care for and bring up those who are orphaned by Covid-10.
He said ecclesial communion always embraces and accompanies the sick, miserable and poor. Ho Chi Minh City has mobilized all its forces to help people overcome the pandemic. The tradition of mutual support will lead them through this arduous journey.
Archbishop Nang asked local Catholics to do everything possible to make the message of hope come true by prayers, visits, consolation, encouragement, sympathy and aid. No one is disappointed by their indifference and ignorance.
"Our hope is anchored firmly and securely in the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and we are guaranteed to never be disappointed when we walk in the dark," he said in his letter posted on Sept. 1.
If death comes early, it's probably a good thing. Although death is not our destination, it is a sign that we are very close to it
Tan Viet Lovers of the Holy Cross Sister Mary Tran Ngoc Thao Linh died of Covid-19 on Aug. 24. She was 32.
In a letter to other nuns before her death, Sister Linh said the contagion is the cross God offered her so that she wholeheartedly lived out her vocation of loving the cross. All people have their crosses to help them follow God and become holy.
“Thinking about life and death, I see that it is just the name of two different life forms. In fact, we never die, so I do not beg God to let me get well or live a long life,” she said.
If walking on a journey, what the traveler wants most is to be able to reach the destination as soon as possible, the nun said.
“If death comes early, it's probably a good thing. Although death is not our destination, it is a sign that we are very close to it,” she said.
On Sept. 2, the Center for Disease Control in Ho Chi Minh City reported that over 91,000 Covid patients were being given medical treatment in their homes, 21,000 others were in quarantine centers and over 40,000 were hospitalized.
The center reports an average of 241 daily deaths. Some 6.2 million people have been vaccinated but only 350,384 are fully inoculated.
The commercial hub of nine million people plans to provide humanitarian aid to 4.5 million people affected by the outbreak in the coming 3-4 months.
Vietnam’s Covid-19 epicenter has had the highest caseload with 232,585 cases and 9,592 deaths since the Delta variant outbreak hit it late April.