23 April 2020, The Tablet

Cardinal adds public prayer to public applause for carers

Cardinal adds public prayer to public applause for carers

Supporting the NHS
Max Willcock/EMPICS Entertainment

The Archbishop of Westminster will this evening add "public prayer" to the weekly 8pm "clap for carers" public applause.

In a livestreamed Mass, Cardinal Vincent Nichols will say: "So this evening we pray for all those who day by day come face to face with this virus, in our hospitals, in care homes, in house visits; in research laboratories and surgeries.

"We thank them for their courage and generosity of heart which sustains their efforts. We salute their great commitment to their patients whom they serve so unselfishly.

"We pray also for those whose families include people with special and demanding needs, that within the confines on their homes this same courageous and generous spirit will be strengthened and sustained. We pray for those who are suffering with the effects of this dreadful virus, for those who have died and for their grieving families and friends."

He will deliver the homily this evening in the first of the new series of Thursday evening livestreamed Masses for carers, which each week will be streamed from a different cathedral across the nation.

The special Thursday evening Masses for the sick, their families, NHS staff and those working in social care will begin at Westminster Cathedral at 7pm, deliberately timed to offer a space to pray for Catholics, before the nation's weekly "clap for carers".

Cardinal Nichols in his homily, released in advance, applauds the "lovely custom has developed of going to our front doors, windows, balconies or front gardens at 8 o’clock on Thursday evening and giving a heart-felt round of applause for those who care for the sick and the dying during this terrible pandemic."

Those on the front line of this great effort know so how devastating the virus is to human health and life, yet every day they return to the front line, he says.

For most, "our part in this effort is so different", he says, warning against any sense of self-pity among Catholics deprived of the sacraments at this time. "Yes, deprivations are placed on us, including not being able, as yet, to return to our churches and sacraments, a deprivation we feel very deeply indeed. Yet we beware of any sense of self-pity as we play our part in these life-saving  disciplines."

"Frontline workers among the sick stand in a great and noble tradition. That tradition bears the hallmark of the Christian faith. Its characteristics of self-sacrifice and courage and its commitment to caring for all, especially for the poorest, sprang forth from the determination to follow the teachings of Christ who said that he is to be found, and served, especially in the poorest, the most needy and those least able to help themselves," he says.  

The vision of Christianity was that to serve the poor and the sick was to serve the Lord himself.

"I recognise that many today who serve generously do so for many good reasons. They are of many different faiths. When asked why they go back to, or remain, day after day, at their dangerous task, some answer ‘It is who I am. I am a nurse, a doctor.’ They recognise a calling, a vocation, that lies deep within them.

"What we do in our prayers is not disrespectful to them. Rather, in our prayer, we are watering the very roots of their inspiration, roots that come to us across the centuries and whose fruit is now embodied in our remarkable workers. May our prayers strengthen their instinct and inspiration, and assure them that they are held deeply in our hearts for the nobility of spirit that they show. We salute them with the eyes and heart of our faith because we know that the treasures of the Kingdom of God are to be found hidden in the field of the world and in so many human hearts."

And speaking on St George's Day, he continues: "In our prayers this evening to look to the company of the saints that their voices may be joined to ours. We say with unabashed faith: St George, Patron of England, pray for us."



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