Bishop Alan writes:
“We are all saddened and disappointed with news of the Government’s decision to once again close churches for public worship but we must observe these Regulations which have the force of the law. As I said earlier, I know that our people, priests and parishes are resilient and will fully support agreed national guidelines in solidarity with our fellow citizens.
Many parishes are live-streaming Masses and devotions and we are permitted to open our churches for private prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament which will help to sustain, comfort and console our people.
I want to thank clergy for all they are doing to care pastorally for people and to proclaim the presence and love of Jesus Christ at this time and in the difficult times ahead.
I am aware from conversations around the diocese that the onset of autumn and winter in addition to the second lockdown is causing a great deal of anxiety and stress for many of us – people and priests.
These recent words of Cardinal Vincent Nichols give a helpful perspective:
‘As we enter this second ‘lockdown’ and loss of communal celebration of Mass, I wish to add these few words:
This is a time for us to show our strength. And by that I do not mean strength in defiance. I mean strength in mutual support; strength in service; strength in perseverance and hope. I mean, then, the strength of our faith in action.
The first act of faith is the praise of God. It is deep and constant prayer. This must be at the root of our lives, as individuals, as families, as households. I urge you, then, to stay faithful to daily patterns of prayer. Pray privately; pray together at home; come to church to pray; pray without ceasing. I thank God that our churches remain open to be places of peace and prayer, and the live streaming of the Mass, celebrated every day in our churches, is a great help. But that too must be rooted in our own life of prayer.
Only by receiving the living water from the Lord will we pass through this arid time. Indeed, if we stay close to the Lord, we will be changed for the better by this time of crisis.
The second act of faith is humble service. This is the road we are to follow: service of each other; outreach to the lonely; nourishment for the hungry; compassion for the sick, the isolated, the dying, especially those facing death alone, and those who mourn. Let’s do it.
These are the strengths we have, the strengths we must contribute to our society’s way of life. Only in this day-to-day practice can we shape a different future, a better future, one that is more compassionate, more just, more charitable. This is the future which must come out of this crisis. We cannot just wait to ‘get back to normal’. This is a time to rebuild a better family, a better household, a better neighbourhood, a better world.
May God bless and sustain us all in the weeks ahead.’”