The leader of the Irish Church has said Advent this year is taking place in “testing times” and he urged people to “find the resilience to keep going” in adhering to the health restrictions.
In his message for the First Sunday of Advent, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh noted that the season was opening with churches in Northern Ireland closed to public worship as part of a circuit-breaker lockdown, while churches south of the border reopened for Mass and the Sacraments last Tuesday after being shut since October.
“These are testing times, and it can be difficult for some of us to find the resilience to keep going. Still, we make sacrifices for the protection of health and life – especially for our elderly and other vulnerable family members,” he said.
The archbishop said it was vital that people continue to show solidarity with doctors, health workers and carers who are on the front line tackling the virus.
On Sunday, the Archbishop of Dublin welcomed the return to public worship in the Republic’s churches from Tuesday. In his homily, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin noted that during the shock of the pandemic people had seen the resurgence of things that are central to human community. “We have seen the witness of people in the front line but also within the fabric of everyday society, the people who Pope Francis calls ‘the saints next door ... the antibodies to the virus of indif- ference’,” Archbishop Martin said.
In the Diocese of Ossory, Dermot Farrell said the crisis had brought home to people that the “perception we built of our mod- ern society – more wealth, better health, longer life, bigger homes, unlimited worldwide travel – is a house built on sand”.
Meanwhile in Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy said that while there would be a great lift for many from the change in restric- tions, it would do little for others ground down mentally by the pandemic and those who really need support.
Speaking after an ecumenical remembrance service for all who died in University Hospital Limerick, especially during the pandemic, Bishop Leahy said: “As we begin to ratchet up our activities, purchases and festive preparations, let’s recognise that this year the weeks of Advent are going to require of us all a particu- lar sensitivity to those for whom Covid-19 has resulted in gloomi- ness, darkness and depression.