Last night, just before 8pm, I opened the door of the presbytery and then joined in the national applause for all the wonderful care workers who are so selflessly driving themselves to look after us at this time. I’m sure many of you all joined in the clapping as well. I don’t know about you, but I found it really a very moving moment. The clip of the event which I saw on the BBC news page this morning brought tears to my eyes. It was a reminder for me of how important it is to give thanks, to say thank you, to BE grateful. Many years ago a much older and wiser priest pointed out to me that real gratitude is actually the least selfish human emotion. And if it’s the most UNselfish then by definition it is the most Christ-like. That’s often given me food for thought. It comes to mind now because in our present locked-down condition it can feel pretty hard to give thanks. Often all we can do is ask God in prayer to show us what to give thanks for, and then to say thanks. Yesterday evening was a great gift to us all – it seems to me – of a golden opportunity to express real gratitude for wonderful work doggedly going on in what must feel like an uphill struggle. Those people are truly doing the Lord’s work even if they don’t know it.
Both Sister Marian and I are feeling well, and I hope and pray that you are also, although I have heard – and presumably will hear more before it is all over – of some of our parish community experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus. Some have been tested. Some have recovered already (as have some of my other friends beyond the parish). Thank God, no-one from here has died. From what I’m hearing and reading, it may well turn out that a very large number of us will eventually turn out to have had the virus and recovered from it without our knowing. We must wait and see – and of course pray. I want you all to be aware that I am continuing to celebrate Mass. I do this at 5pm Monday-Friday and at 1030am on Sundays. Please rest assured that I am offering these Masses for all of you and for all your special intentions. I’m afraid I don’t have the equipment (or the technical know-how!) to set up a live streaming arrangement. But I thought it might be at least a little helpful to be aware of when you are being prayed for at Masses here. And of course, Mass is being live-streamed from a wide variety of locations around the country (and indeed the world).
Pope Francis is encouraging us all to pray fervently for an end to the pandemic around the world. Let us do just that, also – of course – praying for all our own personal virus concerns close to home. I pray for you all and ask God that He will come to our aid by helping us to FEEL the real presence of the Holy Spirit, IN us and AMONG us. It is our faith that the Spirit is with us through thick and thin, whatever happens and whatever doesn’t happen. Most certainly the Spirit is with us now. So that’s maybe something we can give thanks for at the same time as recognizing the magnificent work of all the healthcare workers. Please also pray for Sister Marian and me.
I wish you every blessing in the Lord’s love and peace