Tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics took part in a special online Mass and prayed to Our Lady of La Vang for their nation and the world to soon overcome the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue celebrated the Mass joined by 10 priests at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri province on April 26. Most worship places in Vietnam remain in lockdown due to the pandemic, so 19,000 people saw the event livestreamed through Hue Archdiocese’s website and more than 86,000 others followed it via YouTube. Archbishop Linh told the congregation that they are human, so they rush to God and Mother Mary when incidents and distress happen to them. Archbishop Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said that every day the world sees thousands of people die from the pandemic, tens of thousands of others become infected, hundreds of health workers wear themselves out or even die from looking after countless patients, and leaders of governments nervously look for ways to stem Covid-19.
People are blaming one another for causing the crisis, with some even abusing it for purely mercenary and exploitative reasons, he said. Although Vietnam has not been affected by Covid-19 as badly as other countries, the risk of an outbreak and people’s anxiety remain high. Poor people struggle to put basic food on the table and churches do not know when they will reopen for normal religious activities, he added. “For our inability to deal with the crisis, today we come here to deeply appeal for Our Lady of La Vang to save us from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Archbishop Linh said. The 70-year-old archbishop offered a bouquet of colorful flowers and incense in front of a big statue of Our Lady of La Vang in the rain. He asked participants to stand up and join him in praying to Mother Mary. “We are here like our ancestors in the past to commend our life and all things to Mother, Queen of Peace. Please keep our nation, the Church and the world in peace,” he said. In 1798, many Catholics gathered in nearby forests to avoid religious persecution. Mother Mary is believed to have appeared many times to console and cure them of diseases. Archbishop Linh prayed to Mother Mary for families having marriage and economic problems, for youths to commit to work for the common good, and for Vietnamese Catholics to serve people in need during the pandemic. “I wish all Vietnamese people around the world to be in peace when they think about God, Our Lady of La Vang and themselves,” he said, asking participants to show their love and trust in Divine Mercy and Mother Mary while singing the Prayers of Peace by St. Francis of Assisi. The prelate said many people had texted and called him to pray for them and their families. Peter Nguyen Van Huong, who followed the online Mass from Hue City, said he accessed the archdiocese’s website 30 minutes before the Mass started. “I feel the real presence of Mother Mary through the virtual Mass like real Masses. I believe Mother Mary answers our prayers,” Huong said. The 65-year-old father of two said the online Mass helped bring Vietnamese people around the world together and give them spiritual strength in fighting the pandemic.
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