It is a source of great joy that from next Monday 29th June we can have congregations again in our churches. Praying together as a community, gathering for Sunday Mass is basic to our lives as Christians. Rejoice the day will soon come when we can gather around the altar in our communities:
- to hear God speak to us in the Gospel
- to offer our lives in union with Christ’s offering of his
- to receive Holy Communion, food for life’s journey.
- to pray together in worship and thanksgiving
- to pray with the bereaved for the deceased
With the major restrictions of the past months it is wonderful how creative so many parishes have been: Mass and other liturgies broadcast on Parish Radio, Streaming over the internet, Facebook and YouTube; prayers and reflection pieces on the diocesan and parish websites; Sunday Mass on Radio Kerry, daily Mass on RTE news-now; support for the Grow in Love program for school children; phone contact with the sick and their carers, and with those confined to their homes.We all need to be calm, careful, and patient as we begin to gather again around the altar. Limited congregations due to the demands of social distancing could mean that not all will be able to enter the church for a particular Mass. What is the maximum number permitted in your local church?
The following are practical points to keep in mind as we return to Mass:
- Because the Sunday Mass obligation will continue to be dispensed for some time yet, why not join in a weekday Mass rather than Sunday?
- Some people may decide to wait until things settle down before coming out to Mass.
- Volunteers will be working to ensure matters work smoothly and in safety. Give a smile and full cooperation.
- As those over 70, or even 60 need to be very careful, maybe their children or grandchildren can volunteer.
For safety from the virus, most important of all is that each of us takes personal responsibility for:
- hand-washing on leaving home and returning
- hand-sanitizing on entry to church and exit
- social distancing at all times in church
- wearing a face cover if appropriate
Many people have given their all selflessly, generously and at real personal risk, for the health of the nation. Local charities have done great work, new community groups have sprung up. The coronavirus has given us a new appreciation of our interdependence, as family, neighbours, community and an entire country. It has been brought home to us that our communities have an abundance of selfless, generous, joy-filled capable people. It gives fresh meaning to our realizing that we are one family under God Our Father.
Is it people that matter most in life? Is the most valuable thing in life, family, neighbours, friends and colleagues?
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.
With Covid-19 we are all on a difficult journey. We do not journey alone, God journeys with us. If the journey has been difficult, it also has been at times uplifting, so much goodness all around us.
After three months of restrictions what strikes you about your faith in God? Have you a fresh appreciation of the place of faith and prayer in the home? Have you a fresh appreciation of family, friends and neighbours?
Where do you turn to when you feel down or in great difficulty, when you feel insecure or vulnerable? Where do you find strength and comfort? Do you find it in Jesus, Jesus Christ, your “Good Shepherd”?
He is with us always. Christ asks us to trust in him.
Our Lady health of the sick, pray for us.
+ Ray Browne
Diocese of Kerry