The introit at Mass this morning proclaims ‘rejoice!’ Today is refreshment Sunday; the mid point in Lent when the Church pauses in her Lenten observance to draw breath, before pushing on in earnest towards Holy Week. The fast is softened, we had planned a cake sale at Mass today, and we are asked to rejoice amidst the gloom; to remember that after the suffering comes the Good news of resurrection.
We do well to hold onto this essential Christian truth in these bewildering days of global pandemic; after the pain and sorrow comes joy. There is life after death and hope to be found that combats fear. One day this virus will pass, either by cure or herd resistance, and we will again congregate safely. But can we really ‘rejoice!’ this year?
For many it will undoubteldy be difficult. And at Mass this morning I shall be praying for those who are isolated and totally alone, for the sick and suffering, for the anxious and afraid and those witnessing their livelihoods in crisis. All of this is gravely serious and lamentable. Nevertheless there are other things we can be thankful for. Even if they are simple and small.
Today is Mothering Sunday; a difficult one for families across the world in 2020. In obedience to sensible rules laid down by government to protect life we must wish mothers love from afar, not by risking infecting them with kindness. Let us rejoice in technology then. How fortunate to be able to telephone and use the internet. We may not sit together the year but we can, all of us, stay in touch. Pick up the phone throughout this crisis. Make a list of friends, past and present, and call a different one each day. And, it being Mothering Sunday, don’t forget to pray a rosary and spend some time with the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer.
We can also rejoice that winter is passing and spring has sprung. Yesterday my family went for a lovely walk around the Scotney estate, keeping safe distance from others. We wallowed in mud in wellingtons, took a picnic on a fallen tree and laughed at feeble attempts to stop the dog from eating sheep poo. Before long the worries faded. Get out each day throughout this pandemic. Go for a walk and smile and wave at others. It is good for the soul. Rejoice that we are still able to do this.
And rejoice that we can still enter church for devotion. From Monday to Friday we shall open our doors from 9am until noon. Come and light a candle but keep the required distance. No more than six in church at one time, so don’t hang around. Also please do not bring children. They make keeping rules of isolation all but impossible and we must protect the vulnerable. Pray with them at home and let them run about in the open. But the church building is very much open and this is worth rejoicing in.
This is not a deep post today just an urge to remain positive despite the gloom. We must not cave into fear and we must not lose hope. The next few weeks are going to hard. We know many will die and others will be sick. But most will survive and life will return to normal. Let us rejoice for that as well. I am now off to celebrate the Mass on your behalf. When is your time of prayer today? Whenever it has been scheduled please remember to pray for NHS front line workers. This is a daily duty for us at present.