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My Turn | Oratio Imperata 

JESUS V. QUITAIN

ORATIO and Imperata are more than 2,000 years old Latin words. Oratio is the source of the English word oration – a formal speech given in a special/ceremonial occasion. Today, it relates to church prayers. Imperata relates to empire (Roman), imperial, emperor, imperium – suggesting awesome power and might. In religious matters, imperata is a command order which must be strictly obeyed. For the 1 billion, 400 million plus Catholics, Oratio Imperata must be given priority or importance; a “must” to be prayed in every mass, as novena, a religious activity, everyday until the Pope says stop.

In December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the viral epidemic in Wuhan, China might turn pandemic and affect millions worldwide. Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, asked his scientific advisers including the bright Jesuit priests (physicians, Phds in Biology, Zoology, Math etc.) for advice. Using the 1917-20. Spanish flu pandemic which killed 40 million worldwide as a gauge, the worst scenario was that because of international trade, thousands of daily jet flights, land and water travel, it will cover the world in about three months. They suggested that the Pope issue an Oratio Imperata asking God’s help to protect the people and to destroy COVID 19. Oratio imperata shows the great concern of the Church against Covid 19 to calm fears, give hope and reassure people that God will never abandon us and will save us.

In 1917, Santa Maria told then minors Francisco, Jacinta (now Saints) and Lucia (soon to be saint) that the world should pray everyday for the conversion of Russia. The Church and the faithful prayed everyday. Then 72 years later, in 1989, Russia was converted. The world was destroyed by a great flood. Only Noah and those in the ark survived. God then gave a sign to Noah; a rainbow that he will never destroy earth again by a great flood. The Lord told Jonah to warn the King of Nineveh and the people to turn away from sin else he will destroy Nineveh. At first, Jonah refused to warn Nineveh. He boarded a ship to run away. A great storm hit the boat, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and came out alive 3 days away. A great storm hit the boat, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and came out alive 3 days later. He then told the King and the people of Nineveh about the warning. The King and the people repented, fasted, wore sackcloth and begged for mercy. God in his kindness spared Nineveh not  like Sodom and Gomorrah where the people did not listen. This is the sign of Jonah.

For almost 10 months now the faithful worldwide have prayed the Oratio Imperata. The last part of the Philippine Oratio also calls on St. Raphael, St. Roc, San Lorenzo Ruiz, and San Pedro Calungsod for intercession. The old testament’s Book of Tobit named 3 archangels. St. Gabriel is called “Bearer of God news” because he told Santa Maria she will give birth to Jesus Christ. St. Michael is known as the “Great Warrior” because he defeated Lucifer in the battle in the heavens. His statue shows him holding a sword about to swat the fallen angel Lucifer.

St. Raphael is Jewish for “God has healed”. The Jewish tradition is whenever they call on Yahweh to cure epidemic sickness, it is St. Raphael who appears and the illness is gone. (September 29, Feast of the 3 Archangels), St. Roc (Feast day on August 16) is called San Roque in Spanish, Rocco in Italian, Rock in English and German. Returning to his hometown in Montpelier, France after a pilgrimage in Rome, he was downed by a plague in Piacenza, Italy. Like all plague victims he was thrown into the forest to die. A dog came every day to give him food. He cured all the plague victims in the forest. He became the patron saint of plague victims. His statue shows him limping on a bandaged leg and a dog with bread on his mouth. He died in 1380 and was almost forgotten until the 1917 Spanish flu pandemic which killed 40 million worldwide including thousands in the Philippines. Novenas for St. Roc were revived until the Spanish flu pandemic disappeared in 1921. He was again forgotten until December 2019 Covid 19.

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