There has been a lot of commentary in recent days to suggest that our response to the pandemic restrictions are fraying at the edges. People have endured a whole year of isolation, separation, staying at home, measuring the number of kilometres to see the options for a walk, cherishing time in the open air. It has undoubtedly been the hardest year in our lives. Each one of us faces the fraying in our own particular circumstances depending on our age, our work, our opportunities for education and our mental and physical well-being. To differing degrees, we have encountered the virus itself, whether by being a close contact and having to isolate at home, or by actually contracting the virus and living with its effects for days, weeks or months, or by losing someone, often an older member of the family, who picked it up in a home, hospital or unknown environment.
With what we have all lived through I’m surprised we are only fraying! It would be totally understandable if darkness and despair enveloped us. So, what’s helping us to hold it together? Yes, the vaccine rollout is a source of hope, a great joy for those who have already received it, and a light at the end of the tunnel for the rest of us. Seeing the kindness of people towards their loved ones, their neighbours and the high level of compassion in the community certainly helps too. This alongside the remarkable social media that connects us across families, across the world and bringing those we love in sight and sound to our tables, that helps too. I would also like to think that we have a spiritual strength within us. Church practice may have frayed in recent decades but a deep inner sense of God, of being loved unconditionally, of be accompanied during the darkest moments, this really sustains us in the struggle. The story of St Patrick, so well addressed in this past week, is full of strength in adversity, of trust in the power of God and the closeness of Christ, above, below, at the right hand and left, in every eye and ear and heart that hold me. So, let’s try and bring our Lent to its close with a faith deepened, a trust renewed and love refreshed.
The Archbishop made a strong case for the faith community to be prioritised when Level 5 restrictions are being eased in his homily on St Patrick’s Day. His words are available on dublindiocese.ie and are well worth reading. Our Easter Ceremonies will be online this year. For the Easter Vigil we are recommending following the Mass from Knock. For the other ceremonies, we will stream simple celebrations. Next Sunday Palms will be blessed at Mass and available in baskets at the church doors afterwards.