Dear Editor, I was very saddened to learn that there will be no public Masses for the next three weeks. As a daily communicant, I was upset to hear that I, along with many other practising Catholics, will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist for a minimum of three weeks.
The Eucharist is our spiritual nourishment and therefore the Mass is ‘an essential service’. Since the restrictions on public worship were lifted on June 29, the Church has made huge strides in keeping it a safe environment for all its parishioners. Hundreds of stewards across the country, in conjunction with their parish priests, have gone to tremendous lengths to ensure the safety of all.
Having participated in stewarding myself, I have witnessed how abiding church-goers have been to social distancing, hand sanitising and mask-wearing while inside. As David Quinn, of the Iona Institute, correctly pointed out on the Pat Kenny show, we are the only city in Europe at present that will be banning public worship, despite higher incidences of Covid-19 cases in these countries.
Catholics need to receive Jesus in the Eucharist – it is as essential for our spiritual well-being as food is for our physical well-being.
In these challenging days for us all, we need God’s sustenance to strengthen and fortify us in the weeks and months ahead.
Clontarf, Co. Dublin.
Importance of simply asking: how are you?
Dear Editor, A friend sent me a text message recently, it only said: “Hi Anne, how are you?”
I was overwhelmed. People often ask “how are you” but it gets lost among our long conversations and loses its impact.
So it’s my gift for everyone for the future to simply ask “how are you?”, without the trimmings. People will then feel valued and will have a chance to respond, knowing that someone is genuine in their request.
Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin.
Explaining the blockade in Gaza
Dear Editor, In her recent interview [IC 17/09/2020], Sr Bridget Tighe of Caritas Jerusalem mentioned that Gaza is in blockade by Israel and Egypt – but not the reasons why.
Gaza is blocked because of the activities of Hamas who run a military dictatorship there.
The Hamas party won the Palestinian legislative elections in Gaza on January 25, 2006 establishing a Palestinian national unity government with Fatah, which collapsed when Hamas and Fatah engaged in a violent conflict after the takeover in Gaza by Hamas on June 14, 2007.
Negotiations mediated by Egypt, produced a preliminary agreement in 2011, which was supposed to be implemented by May 2012 through joint elections. Hamas gradually expanded its authority in Gaza, in a move widely referred as establishment of an alternative government.
Since 2001, Palestinian militants have launched thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The attacks, widely condemned for targeting civilians, have been described as terrorism by United Nations, the European Union and Amnesty International.
From 2004 to 2014, these attacks have killed 27 Israeli civilians, five foreign nationals, five members of the Israeli Defence Forces, and at least 11 Palestinians and injured more than 1,900 people. Their main effect is their creation of widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life among the Israeli populace.
Incidentally Gaza once belonged to Egypt but they do not want it back as they like Jordan have a peace treaty with Israel.
Liam de Paor,
BLM movement not likely to be reconciliatory
Dear Editor, The road to racial equality in America has been a long and bumpy one. Fortunately the leadership of the movements that progressed it successfully have done so in a particular way.
The early abolitionists were escaped slaves; one of the most prolific was Harriet Tubman who had a wonderful simple trust in God. After escaping herself to the north she began her work of leading others to freedom and made countless journeys to the south to rescue slaves and lead them back.
The slave owners placed a bounty on her head but she had no fear of capture despite often being within a few feet of search parties.
Her trust in God was absolute, a legacy from her own father who despite being a slave almost all his life trusted and loved his Saviour, fasting every Friday to remember the sacrifice that sets us all free.
Later Ms Tubman helped the Union army during the civil war as a spy and scout. This is the pedigree and conviction of those who helped end slavery.
A century later, the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King showed the same source of inspiration and power. Prayer and the humility of non-violence also led to substantial change as it brought about the end of segregation on buses, schools, etc., another major step forward.
Both Ms Tubman and Dr King realised the nature of their struggle. In the latter’s case he framed it as seeking unity with his white brothers, winning them back. Ms Tubman, even more astoundingly when asked how she viewed the white slave owners said, that they ‘didn’t know any better’ – they had learned to think that way which is reminiscent of Jesus’ own words on the cross, ‘forgive them Father for they don’t know what they are doing’.
Graciousness in spite of great suffering and opposition, their focus was always reconciliatory.
The more recent events in America and the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be a very different narrative and as such is likely to have a very different result.
Unfair demands have been made of Faithful
Dear Editor, The placing of the suspension of religious services at stage three of the ‘Plan for Living with Covid-19’ is once again discriminatory towards faith communities. Workplaces, schools, and many other organised activities are allowed to continue during this phase on the basis of being essential. Clearly, to the Irish Government the public worship of Almighty God is non-essential.
Churches have been exemplary in observing public health guidelines since reopening on June 29 and have proved more than capable of acting responsibly. They are controlled environments which have demonstrated all the principles of good citizenship while trying their best to re-establish their mission of divine worship with the participation of the Faithful. Assurances of religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution and which are a hallmark of any fair and free society are readily compromised when unfair demands are made of believers.
Sadly, there has been extraordinarily little push back on these measures from Church leadership while a significant spiritual loss to the Faithful will ensue if the present position is not reversed.
Blackrock Road, Co. Cork.