Celebrating a March 22 Mass that was live streamed on the Archdiocese of Washington's Facebook page, Archbishop Wilton Gregory offered prayers for those suffering from COVID-19, their caregivers, the scientists working to find a cure and the priests who minister to all the faithful.

“We come into the Lord's presence trusting in His Love and mercy,” Archbishop Gregory said prior to offering his prayers “for those whose lives have been so impacted and turned about because of the coronavirus.”

For the sick and those who care for the sick, Archbishop Gregory prayed they “find peace, hope and comfort in the love that we share with them in Christ.”

He also prayed “for those in the world of science and medicine seeking a way of addressing this illness (and) seeking a way to turn their wisdom and skill to the benefit of the human family.”

Because Masses and other liturgical gatherings have been temporarily suspended throughout the Archdiocese of Washington in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Archbishop Gregory and priests throughout the archdiocese have been offering Masses which the faithful can “attend” via the Internet.

Archbishop Gregory offered a special prayer for priests, “those men who are challenged under these circumstances to extend the ministry of Christ in places and ways that are not usual for them.”

More than 2,300 people visited the archdiocesan Facebook page to view the Mass. Referring to the Gospel reading of Jesus curing the blind man, Archbishop Gregory said the day's Gospel was a call to consider not just physical blindness, but “the blindness of heart.. that hardens the heart.”

The archbishop noted, “Hatred blinds the heart. Love opens the eyes.”

Reflecting on that Gospel passage, he said, “This is an invitation to consider our blindness, and to ask the Lord to cure our blindness, to soften our hearts, to fix our eyes to see and love others as He loves them and would have us love them.”

The Mass marked Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. On that day, priests wear rose-colored vestments. Traditionally, it is considered a day of rejoicing and lessening Lenten restrictions because Easter is approaching. Laetare Sunday is celebrated exactly three weeks before Easter, which this year is April 12.