Bishop Dermot Farrell has invited the faithful to participate in a prayer initiative in the diocese of Ossory, by emailing [email protected] or texting 085-8313100 any prayer intention. His offer came yesterday, Sunday 29 March, in a pastoral letter published in response to the Covid-19 crisis, entitled ‘Apart But Not Alone: Hope and Strength in a Time of Crisis and Fear’.

In his pastoral letter Bishop Farrell highlighted that the more social distancing measures have been put in place, the greater our awareness of our immediate environment. Bishop Farrell reminds us that these measures exist to keep us safe – “The space we thus create will keep us safe; it is, as it says in the poem, ‘the light from the lighthouse that protects as it pushes away.’ (John Ashbery)”

Bishop Farrell highlights a number of realisations that have descended on or society in the past weeks. He says, “We have come to realise that our true strength is our strength to carry the weak, and our true dignity is our capacity to value every person. Solidarity and global action are absolutely crucial to bringing this pandemic under control.

“We appreciate, anew then, the contribution of so many – the nurses, doctors, paramedics, care staff, clergy, Gardaí, fire personnel and so many more. In the words of the French novelist Georges Bernanos: ‘Grace is everywhere’.”

Recognising this response to the call to service of the other, the Bishop of Ossory says, “It is this other and not the self which lies at the heart of our Christian faith. We are, throughout our history, a people for others.”

Bishop Farrell emphasises in his letter the importance of prayer in times of crisis, and that prayer and love are inseparable. He writes, “To pray for our child, a parent, a neighbour, a friend is to express our love for that person. To pray is to love. When we pray together – as couples, as families, as communities – our individual voices come together, and unite us as one, to call on God. But our prayer is not only our prayer; our prayer is also our response to God’s promptings, to our trust in his hope, our faith in the Lord’s abiding presence.

“Real prayer comes from the heart; real prayer comes from real life. So let us pray as we can. Pray in your own words, pray in the words of others, pray in the words of the Mass, pray in silence. As our country and our world is convulsed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that our lives spill over into others, for better or for worse, and we remain, in these times, united by prayer.

The Bishop invites the faithful to participate in a prayer initiative of the diocese of Ossory, by emailing [email protected] or texting 085-8313100 any prayer intention that you may have in these days. Bishop Farrell states that these prayers and intentions “will be remembered when we come together to celebrate Mass on the radio each Sunday morning. A real coming together of our prayer. We pray because we place our deepest hope in a goodness and in a power that transcends our own capabilities. Prayer is hope in action.”

Bishop Farrell concludes, “We are stronger when we are together, and though apart in these days, we are with each other now in a new way. May Christ, the one who lived most for the other, support us in that task. Let us pray with Saint Augustine,

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake this night or watch, or weep;
give your angels and saints
charge over those who sleep.

Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones,
soothe your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones
shield your joyous ones.

And all for your love’s sake.
Amen”

Ends