Catholic youths from Lashio Diocese in Shan state perform songs about the unconditional love of parents that were shared on Facebook on July 26. (Photo: Lashio Diocese social communication office)
In the early days of July every year, children and youths in parishes across Myanmar make preparations to sing songs, perform dances and rehearse short plays for Parents’ Day.
July 26 marks the church-organized feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mother Mary.
This year youths moved performances online as the annual celebrations at parishes have been suspended due to the restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Diocesan social communication offices uploaded songs about parents’ love and care while some youths shared 15-minute documentaries via Facebook.
A church-run radio service arranged a program to share the feelings and views of Catholic youths and parents.
All the songs and short plays performed by the children and youth have the same goal: to promote love, understanding, forgiveness and respect within the family.
Parishes in the 16 dioceses across the country have been holding Parents’ Day celebrations on July 26 since the 1950s with the theme of “Honor your father and mother” – the fourth of the 10 Commandments.
Bishops across the country lead the Eucharistic celebration to mark Parents’ Day, which fell on Sunday this year.
At St. Mary’s Cathedral in Yangon, the commercial hub of the country, nuns decorated the altar with a variety of flowers to mark the special celebration.
Christianity is a loving family
Cardinal Charles Bo and Bishop John Saw Yaw Han, auxiliary bishop of Yangon Archdiocese, concelebrated a Mass that was broadcast through the diocese’s social communication office on Facebook.
Cardinal Bo hailed the day celebrating the unconditional love of our parents as Jesus did and referred to it as a great day of thanksgiving.
“Christianity is a loving family with the Trinity as the all-inspiring family of love and harmony,” he said in his homily, adding that God created the first family to share his love. Because of the family, humanity has survived and thrived.
“The Gospel asks each one of us to treat the family as the treasure that is so precious we are willing to sacrifice anything else to get that pearl of immense value,” he said.
The 72-year-old cardinal then elaborated on the role of parents and children in the modern age to nurture a Christian family, urging parents to act as God’s messengers of love, the evangelizers of children and to guide the moral life of their offspring.
“Parents must draw clear moral boundaries. Love combined with nurturing discipline are the greatest gifts parents can give to their children,” he said.
The cardinal also pointed out the five duties of children — honoring and respecting their father and mother, obeying parents, listening to the counsel of parents, caring for parents in their old age, and understanding and forgiving parents where there has been a failure and breaches.
“As the pandemic continues its arrogant march, it is the family that is keeping the fight against the virus going on,” said Cardinal Bo. “The family has been the unit of humanity that has withstood all challenges to the disintegration of the human family.”
Elderly victimized by pandemic
The cardinal invited the faithful to pray for affected parents and those abandoned by their children.
“We remember those elderly parents who are victimized by the pandemic. We pray today with stretched out hands for those elderly parents who had to be left alone in the isolation wards, ICU wards to struggle with their last moments during this pandemic,” he said.
Myanmar has extended lockdown measures to July 31 to contain the spread of the virus.
Churches in Lashio and Taunggyi dioceses in Shan state were allowed to resume public Masses under the guidelines of the Covid-19 national committee from July 24. Place of worship for other religions were also allowed to hold services between 5am and 7pm.
Most churches in Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein and Kachin state remain closed, with Sunday Masses being broadcast online.
Myanmar has so far reported 350 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 290 recoveries, according to health officials.
According to the latest data, more than 648,000 people have died out of more than 16 million confirmed cases worldwide.