Last month’s letter which I published online was written the day after An Taoiseach announced that gatherings were to be limited to 100 people indoors and to 500 people outdoors. Since then we have had a whirlwind of change. Many have faced disappointments and great challenges. Still others find that the normality of their lives has been upended. For too many, illness they have already been living with has been complicated, and great numbers have struggled with or are suffering from COVID-19. We have not been able to give loved ones who have died in these times the funerals we would like to have arranged for them.
Those working in what have been classed as ‘essential services’, especially those in all branches of healthcare, are working in a new normality that is at the limit of human endurance. Most of us are being asked to make our contribution by heeding the message: ‘Stay at home’
These are traumatic times for everyone. They are unknown territory for all of us in our Diocese too as parishes and faith communities. We have not been able, in the same way, to do what the Church is all about doing – gathering around God’s word and the Lord’s Table to worship together, and going out to encounter face to face those who we need to care for and serve in God’s name. That is our normality as a Church and it too has been dislocated: abruptly.
As Bishop I ask that, as of first importance, we continue to do in whatever ways we can, what the Church is meant to do: to worship God; to pray steadfastly; to reflect on God’s word; to reach out in any way we may to those who depend on our pastoral care; to offer our practical help and solidarity with anyone who needs it; and to play our parts as responsible members of society.
All of our clergy and lay workers, with their own unique gifts and different approaches have been doing this. On your behalf, I want to thank each and every one of them. Everyone has been working harder than ever in the most stressful of situations. We are not trying to replicate our regional parish system online. This is a time for sharing gifts and helping one another. We are truly discovering the value of pooling our energies and talents. Not everyone has to do everything the same way. This recognition of each others’ gifts and dependence on one another is what Saint Paul calls ‘a still more excellent way’ (1 Cor. 12.31) and which he describes at length in the following chapter, the famous one about love.
I pray for God’s blessing on each and every one of you,
✞ Paul Cork:
The full Diocesan Magazine for May is here: Diocesan Magazine – May 2020