With most Masses cancelled, this is the first St Patrick’s Day since I was an infant that I was not physically at the Celebration of the Eucharist. And yet in tuning in to my parish’s online Mass at Newman’s University Church in Dublin I felt very connected and the ancient faith seemed very much alive.
Church leaders have correctly followed the advice from healthcare professionals that larger gatherings of people should not go ahead in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus. This is a painful time for Catholics, but it is also a time when we must accept that sacrifices have to be made for the common good: in this case, the elderly and vulnerable people who are most at risk of contracting the virus.
It is a time for solidarity with those who may be already suffering from Covid-19 and their loved ones, for people who are concerned or anxious about the current pandemic and for our health and critical care professionals and everyone working to overcome this crisis.
The most concrete form of solidarity for people of faith is first and foremost prayer.
That’s why it is so important so long as it is prudent for churches to remain open as sanctuaries of prayer and solace.
At times of crisis, the need for prayer in holy places – particularly before the Blessed Sacrament – is profoundly felt. This is why the image on page three of Pope Francis going to pray in a Roman church associated with prayers to end the Plague is so moving.
The absence of public Masses is also a time for us to think of the many Catholics around the world who – either because of the absence of a priest or indeed persecution – cannot regularly attend Mass or receive the Eucharist.
St Paul wrote that we can do all things through Christ who brings us strength. With prudence and prayer, we will overcome these current difficulties.
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This is an uncertain time for parish communities, and it is also an unprecedented time for The Irish Catholic. We are extremely grateful for all that you do to promote the newspaper and the value of bringing Catholic media into homes in your parish.
I appreciate that it will not be as easy to distribute the newspaper as it normally would, however most Churches will remain open and we ask you to leave The Irish Catholics on display so that parishioners can buy it. People are struggling to discern real news from fake news about this emergency and I would appeal to you to help us do what you can to ensure that people still have access to The Irish Catholic newspapers and its up-to-date news from our professional journalistic team.
If you would like a digital edition of the newspaper emailed to you so that it can be distributed to parishioners who are ill or confined, we will be happy to provide it free of charge.
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If there is anything we can do to help make this uncertain time easier, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will continue to do what we have been doing for the past 132 years – delivering a high quality newspaper filled with news, views and inspiration.
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