The Lord is the Light of the World – and His light shines more brightly in darkness.

We find ourselves in a situation which, undoubtedly, we probably never thought we’d be in. Dealing with this pandemic, coping with it, and trying to maintain the vestiges of normality in our lives can be a real struggle. It’s here that I thank God for my Catholic Faith, for the hope and the consolations that it gives me. With it life still continues to be challenging, without out I don’t know how I’d cope.

Having spoken to a good number of parishioners this past week about this whole situation, it’s evident that our faith in God is the thing that keeps us hopeful, it’s our faith that enables us to see this as part of a greater picture, and to see that there is a way out – blue skies beyond what my seem the dark and dismal skies of the present. In fact, with a moment’s reflection it’s not even that bad now. We know that God is close to us, despite the changes to our normal faith practices, and our ability to worship together publicly. We see the way that faith is inspiring people to show charity and mutual concern – really putting this commandment of love of neighbour into practice. We see how people are joining in prayer, and praying more, even though they might be physically distanced from each other – these are all positive fruits, blessings that come from what sometimes can be seen as only a painful and difficult set of circumstances… and I pray that if the outward situation worsens through more victims of the virus, or through greater restrictions on us all in order to help stem the spread of Covid-19, I pray that that goodness and those blessings will intensify all the more, in proportion to, and greater than the challenges we face – God is a generous God, so we can be confident that this prayer will be answered!

We know that Lent is the pre-eminent time for conversion, and for receiving the Lord more and more into our lives, a time of exceptional graces. On reflecting on this whole world-wide situation I feel that we have entered into Lent as the whole human race… the opportunity being given to us to consider what is truly important, the opportunity given to us to reflect on our behaviours, the way we live, what we hold dear, what is important in life. We can give in to panic, greed, selfishness and materialism, we can remain distant from each other in heart and distant from God – in so far as we distance ourselves – or we can recognise that here we have a great opportunity to rediscover the presence and the power of God, the love and the hope of God, the truth of God, and the call that we have to live in true Christian love in regard to our neighbour. Through this suffering, through this common experience of struggle, we may end up as better people. With Faith this is a real, concrete possibility. In fact, with Faith, with the total handing over of our lives to God, this will inevitably happen.

Whether we are isolated at home, or if we are still able to get about, there is much good that we can do at this time, and perhaps the greatest and first thing that we should be doing is committing ourselves more fervently to prayer. Even isolated in our homes we can be prayer warriors for the Lord, imploring Him that His will be done in this present situation, imploring Him for the repose of the souls of those who have died, strength and safety for those who are caring for the sick and their families, praying not only for the end of this pandemic and the physical healing of bodies, but praying for the healing of souls. If you are isolated, know that your time alone with God can be precious and fruitful – something which, I hope, far outweighs for you the frustrations and limitations that imposed or self-imposed isolation can bring with it. As prayer warriors the Holy Bible and your Rosary will be both your great weapons and your great sources of comfort, take them up, use them, draw solace, inspiration and hope from them, and use them to fight not only for yourself but for the many others who are struggling at this time. The Holy Father, only yesterday, to the best of my knowledge, granted a plenary indulgence in this present crisis in order to inspire us to do more good and to be better Catholics. I’ll include something about this at the end of this post.

Suffice it to say that you are all being remembered at Holy Mass and in prayer. God bless you and keep you all, and let us pray for each other!

Fr. Martin

(the following is taken from the ChurchPop website):

The Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary announced an opportunity for a plenary indulgence during the current coronavirus pandemic.

According to the decree,the gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members, and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.”

A Plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due to sin, but one must have “a spirit detached from any sin” for it to completely apply.

The faithful who qualify for a plenary indulgence during the coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Those suffering from the coronavirus illness
  2. Those ordered to quarantine themselves due to the virus
  3. Health care workers, family members, and others caring for those with the coronavirus (exposing themselves to contagion)
  4. Do at least one of the following:
  1. Unite yourself spiritually through the media in the celebration of the Holy Mass
  2. Recite the Rosary
  3. Pious practice of the Way of the Cross (or other forms of devotion)
  4. Recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and “a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters.”
  5. Also must perform all of the following as soon as possible: (considered the three usual conditions for a plenary indulgence)
  1. Sacramental Confession
  2. Eucharistic communion
  3. Pray for the Pope’s intentions “Implore the Almighty God for the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted, and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”
  4. In addition to the usual conditions mentioned above for a plenary indulgence, do at least one of the following:
  5. The faithful not suffering from the coronavirus can:
  1. Visit the Blessed Sacrament or go to Eucharistic adoration
  2. Read the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour
  3. Recite Holy Rosary
  4. Pious exercise of the Way of the Cross
  5. Recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy The decree adds that “the Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended.”
  6. Plenary indulgence for those unable to receive Anointing of the Sick:

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