‘No need for masks’ if you love God and have faith, Ex-Lipa bishop says amid COVID-19

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MANILA, Philippines — Former Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles on Wednesday said there is no need to wear face masks and observe social distancing as long as there is faith and love for God.

During his Sept. 23 homily, Arguelles told the faithful that “there is nothing to worry” if they keep spreading love for their neighbors and for God’s creation.

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“Kung may faith tayo, kapiling natin ang Diyos — matulog man tayo o gising. Ano man ang gagawin natin ay kabutihan (kung) ang Diyos ay lagi nating kapiling, maligaya tayo. May pag-asa at may pag-asa ang tao. Maraming taong nagsabi niyan e kapag nagkatagpo sila ng taong mabuti, naghahasik ng kabutihan, ay may pag-asa ang mundo,” said in his homily for the 9 a.m. online Holy Mass on Wednesday at Parish and National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

(If we have faith, we have God with us even if we are asleep, or awake. When we do good, if we have God with us always, we will be happy. We have hope, people have hope. Many people say that if they meet someone who does good deeds, there is hope in this world.)

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“At kung may pag-asa, may pananampalataya, may pag-ibig. Sa lahat ng ito, ang pinakamahalaga ay pag-ibig, sabi ni San Pablo at alam yan ni San Padre Pio,” the retired bishop added.

(And if we have hope, there is faith and there is love. Of these, the most important is love, as what San Pablo said and Saint Padre Pio agrees.)

“Tayo ay nagmamahal at kung alam nating mahal tayo ng Diyos at tayo ay nagmamahal sa nilikha ng Diyos, pati kalikasan mahal natin, ang kapwa natin, mahal natin. Pati ang ating sarili mahal natin, ayon sa hindi makasarilinig pagmamahalan; kung nasa atin ang pagmamahal na ‘yan, you don’t have to worry. Wala tayong alalahanin. Kahit wala tayong mask, hindi tayo takot,” he went on.

(We all express love and if we know that God loves us, and we love God’s creation as well as the environment, our neighbors… If we love ourselves without being selfish, if  we have these kinds of love, you don’t have to worry. We don’t need to worry about anything. Even if we don’t have mask, we don’t need to be scared.)

Arguelles, who is not a health expert, also emphasized that with God’s love, face shields and social distancing may not be needed.

“Tayo din naman ay mamamatay. Pero hindi kamatayan ‘yan, mapupunta tayo sa walang hanggan. Pero kung nagtutulungan tayo, gumagawa nang mabuti, hindi na kailangan ng mask. Hindi na kailangan ng face shield, hindi na kailangan ng distancing. Bakit? Mahal tayo ng Diyos at mahal natin siya, at mahal natin ang isa’t isa. We will only do good,” Arguelles said.

(We will all die but it isn’t death because we will be brought to eternity. But if we help each other, if we do good, we don’t need a mask. We don’t need face shield, we don’t need distancing. Why? God loves us and we love him and we love each other. We will only do good.)

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Arguelles resigned as Lipa archbishop in 2017 after 13 years in office. He left the post three years before his mandatory retirement age for Catholic bishops.

Among the World Health Organization’s advisories to the public in order to prevent COVID-19 transmission include regular washing of hands,  maintaining at least one meter distance between people, and avoiding crowded places. It also encouraged the use of fabric masks if there is widespread community transmission, and especially where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

JE

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