This is a historic moment. Churches have not been closed as far as I know, since penal times. Even during the worst days of Foot and Mouth disease we used foot baths. You may remember the sodden rubber mats used in the prevention of the spread of infection in all public places. This time it is more serious as we try to use everything at our disposal to prevent the spread of disease. This is all good. True progress means using all the insights of science as tools to help us. Even the behavioural scientists can help with insights of human behaviour. The recent panic buying shows how we are susceptible to suggestion. Perhaps there is also an element of entertainment or novelty in our drive to stock up. On a serious note we are in this together and most of us want to do the right thing. We are fortunate that our government and the HSE are absolutely focussed on the issue. Also there is no danger that we will be without food or other essentials. Apparently we produce enough food to feed 40 million people and we produce our own bathroom tissue. Remember, routine is important. Why not create a little program for the day. This will help prevent boredom and frustration.
We owe it to each other to observe the advice of the health professionals including: wash hands again and again (reciting the Our Father and Hail Mary takes the same time as singing Happy Birthday twice), no touching the face, keep two metres apart, self isolate if necessary, use disposable tissues and gels sensibly etc etc .
Church Services-There will be no public Masses in the Diocese of Meath. We are in reflective mode. Here I celebrate a private Mass every day. If we have a funeral numbers will be limited to 100. There will be no handshaking. Parish and undertakers will plan the protocols, guided by the HSE. I pray for the parish and all those caring for us during this crisis.
A Creative Time-Life constantly challenges us to adapt to new circumstances. Whether it is a sports injury, bereavement or financial crisis we humans continually deal with the unexpected. This of course is not an easy time, but we can gain something too. Children can mature by having to be creative and families challenged by new contexts can learn to cope by caring and indeed by loving at a deeper level. New routines will be developed and perhaps for many this will be a productive adventure. Prayer in the home is not always an easy subject. In the past the Rosary was regularly recited in the evening. This is a time when at least the occasional prayer could be said as a family as we don’t have our regular Sunday Eucharist. Those with access to the internet can find suitable prayers and even the Mass itself as it is being streamed by many parishes including Navan and Mulingar. LM/FM Mass will be broadcast Sunday at 9am from Kilsaran and next Sunday from Dunshaughlin. How fortunate we are..
Contact I am available at the end of the phone or by arrangement. Someone has said it is a good time to phone a friend or relative. Reaching out can be a real comfort to someone who is lonely or anxious. You can be a gift if you can listen patiently and sympathetically, without having to take on the emotional sufferings of others.
We go ahead. Let us be in unity, even at a distance.
Fr T.Toner P.P.