22nd March, 2020

We are all facing a time of difficulty on many fronts because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Firstly, it is an added strain on our NHS as they strive to cope with increasing cases of sick people. We must thank and pray for our medical and health workers, many of whom come from our parish community, who are at the front line helping those who could infect them whilst the rest of us try to keep ourselves safe.

Secondly, it is a difficult time for the economy that we have been told could deliver all sorts of wonderful dreams. But the economy depends on people working to earn money which they spend to pay people who are working. We must pray for those who may experience financial hardship and even help them out in our community if we can.

Thirdly, this is a difficult time for a culture that has been accustomed to entertainment and noise. Now we have self-isolation, no more news about the fantasy world of stardom and much more silence. These threaten the lifestyle that has kept us ‘distracted from distraction by distraction’. The ‘me’ culture is threatened when ‘my right to choose’ is challenged. There will be many who feel very disorientated when they discover how shallow that lie is.

The challenge for us in Church is to see how we can speak of hope in the crisis of uncertainty that we face, particularly as now all Masses and church gatherings have been suspended.

Firstly, we have to look after the physical needs and health of those who are most in danger. That means taking precautions so as not to spread the virus in our community – and looking out for people who need extra help in their own homes. We are invited to be thoughtful and generous. This is not a time for selfishness.

Secondly – like in the news clips of Italians singing from their balconies – we have to be creative so that we can laugh together in the face of the fear that threatens to overwhelm many people. Communities can support one another and ways are already emerging as to how this might happen. For our parish, with access to Masses now suspended, our main way of staying in touch spiritually is via our website and so there are some suggestions below that you might like to consider .

Thirdly, as followers of Jesus, we know that difficult times are a call to renewed prayer and penance. Those who know Jesus believe that evil can never win – whether we are talking about physical threats or sin. As St. Paul wrote, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus Our Lord”. (Romans 8:39). Despite current bans on gatherings, this is a time to pray alone and with others in our homes. Help children to pray in their own houses. Counteract the wave of frightening news that is coming at them from every side. Listen to their worries and concerns. Speak of trust in God and help them to know Jesus who suffered so much.

Please keep in touch via our website and email. There are prayers about the outbreak elsewhere on our website* – please use them. United in great prayer and praying for the Lord’s protection for us all at this difficult, fearful and mysterious time.

With every blessing,
Fr Gregory.

*When Mass Cannot Be Celebrated Publicly – Making a Spiritual Communion
*Prayers During a Time of Flu and Illness