BIshop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin has said our Advent journey will be special this year because of the gentle return to public worship. Bishop Nulty was speaking at an Advent Liturgy of Hope in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow on Sunday 29 November – the First Sunday of Advent.
Bishop Nulty said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed many of so much and time is precious. And for us Christians Advent reminds us time is also precious, these Advent days remind us to be patient, not so quick, there is still a significant piece of work to do before we welcome the Christ child. Remember the blind, the lame, the deaf, the poor, the refugee, the homeless?
“Much comparison has been made to the time of the Spanish flu one hundred years ago and this Covid pandemic. Our health authorities, NPHET, our government, our leaders, have all equipped themselves well through Covidtide. Great hope recently with the announcement of a vaccine, in fact several with different component elements, but the same result to protect us from this virulent virus. Our churches reopen for public Masses on Tuesday; it’s been a long journey for some in the diocese who are coming out of a third lockdown, for more just two, but all of us realise even one lockdown was tough enough.”
Addressing the re-opening of churches for public worship, Bishop Nulty said, “Because of Tuesday’s gentle reopening of doors to public worship, our Advent journey will be particularly special these days. Friends will know I like to close doors when I am in a room, I sense the draft, the breeze maybe more than others. The late John Cummins used to think I had a ‘thing’ about closing doors! Yet I dislike closed doors when it comes to churches or this splendid Cathedral. Church doors are not meant to be closed! I know how emotional Tuesday is going to be for so many people, those who have lost loved ones in recent times, for people of faith Mass is much more than a gathering.
“Many wrote to me about how they missed the Mass during this current ‘lockdown’, they missed Eucharist, seeing the Eucharist as “the summit” of their lives. But Eucharist is also “the source” of our faith, when we leave buildings like this, renewed in our determination to touch the hearts and lives of people and society through our witness to Christ. It’s reaching out to the lame, the blind, the migrant, the rejected, the abused, the forgotten. Only if we do this, have we truly returned to public worship. Public worship is not about ‘me’, it’s about ‘us’, it’s about ‘those outside’, it’s about “all of us” as pilgrim people together.”
Bishop Nulty concluded by saying that as that pilgrim people together we will make our Advent journey much stronger, much more hope-filled this year. He said, “Our waiting for the coming of the Lord is not a passive or a disinterested wait but rolling up our sleeves supporting those who have been forgotten throughout this pandemic. Those who have fallen through the cracks. Those who lie behind the cold statistics on our evening news bulletins. God is always with us, and never more so as we walk together through a very different Advent preparing for what we accept will also be a very different Christmas, but one which may be much closer and more in sync with the events of 2,000 years ago. Together may we as a Diocesan family journey in hope through Advent.”