At his morning Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis urged priests to bring the Eucharist to the sick and to accompany medical workers, as Italy begins its first day of a nationwide quarantine.
“We continue to pray together for the sick and for health workers, so many people that suffer from this epidemic,” the Pope said at the beginning of Mass on March 10.
“We also pray to the Lord for our priests, that they have the courage to go out and go to the sick, bringing the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist and accompanying the health workers and volunteers in this work they are doing,” he continued.
With a decree on March 9, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, put all of Italy under quarantine through April 3, as a measure to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, Covid-19.
The quarantine restricts movement in and out of Italy and between regions. Restaurants and bars must close at 6pm and gathering in groups is forbidden.
People are encouraged to stay home, but may move around the city for work, to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or for medical care. In public, people are asked to keep one meter of distance from each other.
Previous decrees had already closed all museums and many tourist attractions in Rome. Public Masses are cancelled, but most churches continue to be open for private prayer and confessions.
Pope Francis always offers a 7:00 am Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives. This week, the Mass is being livestreamed over the internet. The Pope said on March 9 that he is offering the Masses for those affected by the coronavirus.
Typically, there are guests invited to these daily Masses, in addition to priests and religious who work at the Vatican, but there are no guests taking part week.
Pope Francis’ Angelus on Sunday was also done by video livestream to discourage people from gathering in St Peter’s Square. His Wednesday audience on March 11 will also be livestreamed from inside the Vatican, as well as his Angelus on March 15.
In his homily on March 10, the Pope continued his reflections on sin and confession.
“The Lord calls all of us sinners to dialogue with him, because sin locks us in ourselves, makes us hide or hide our truth, inside,” he said.
Francis spoke about Adam and Eve, who hid after they sinned, because they were ashamed of their nakedness.
There is the temptation to hide from one’s sinfulness, the Pope explained, emphasizing that the Lord wants to speak with his people, to discuss the sin.
“Come, because I am capable of changing everything – the Lord tells us – do not be afraid to come and speak, be courageous even with your miseries,” Francis said.
He urged people to not deceive themselves and God about their sins.
“Vanity never heals,” he said. “Also, it is poisonous, it goes on bringing disease to your heart, bringing you that hardness of heart…”
Instead, listen to the invitation of the Father to speak, he said.
“May this Word of the Lord encourage us; that our prayer is a real prayer, about our reality, about our sins, about our miseries. Talk to the Lord. He knows, He knows what we are. We know it, but vanity always invites us to cover up. May the Lord help us.”