Monsignor Keith Newton has produced a video message for the faithful. I am happy to share it this morning. His wise words are worthy of contemplation. Not least the suggestion that this sudden reminder of our mortality should encourage us to take seriously our need for living faith.
I had been hoping to live-stream mass from Pembury, and was due to meet a technical bod to arrange this on Tuesday, but sadly those plans were scuppered as my family went into isolation because of sickness on Sunday evening. The boys fell ill first followed by Hayley, my wife. Yesterday Jemima and I joined the merry throng exhibiting symptoms; although- praise God- I seem entirely better this morning. The shortest ever dose of Wuhan flu? A miracle stemming from the prayers of others? Time will tell…
With such an unhealthy clerical household at present perhaps it is time to design a new outfit for servers at Mass? This chap just lit the big six.
The good news is that the illness, if it is Coronavirus, has been mild so far. The boys were pale and droopy, complaining of malaise, headache and sore throat, but have felt well enough to play board games and do a little work. The appetite has not been lost and both are getting better each day.
Hayley was worst hit. She had fatigue, malaise and a temperature and spent the last two days in bed. But today, feeling a little improved, she has dressed and hopes to potter about this morning and go back to bed in the afternoon. Jemima and I thought we had ducked it but had headaches and felt rotten yesterday afternoon and evening. Yet both of us seem over it this morning. Will it hold? Who can tell? I hope so!
Obviously we need to be cautious before heralding recovery because this virus is a notorious slow burner and, in the worst cases, seems to be receding before hitting people hard in the second week. But the majority of people do overcome it and fully recover in 7- 10 days. With no underlying health issues there is every reason for the family to be optimistic then. Age is also on our side and none of us smoke. I hope that, by sharing our experience, will can help alleviate fears you might have. Honestly, thus far, it hasn’t been too bad. Please God it remains that way.
Our family has prayed the rosary every evening. We hold the parish in our prayers; especially the isolated, vulnerable and sick. And we continue to keep in touch with people who kindly telephone and email. Please pray for Rupert, a friend of a member of our congregation. His son is seriously ill in intensive care and, because Rupert has also contracted the virus, he can no longer visit. A salutary reminder that whilst this virus is manageable for the many it is devastating for the few. So we must be optimistic but sensible. The balance is all important.
Let me end then with wonderful advice from C. S Lewis who was writing about fears in his day regarding the atomic bomb: “The first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about the bomb. They may break our bodies but they need not dominate our minds.”
Do not let fear dictate. It is a tool of the devil. Fight fear with faith and love and hope. This situation will pass and I predict it will not be as devastating as doom sayers suggested. Life will go on and lessons learnt. And very soon we shall gather together again in church and what a merry day that shall be. I might even crack open the bubbly…