Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory has issued a pastoral letter on the remembrance of the dead. November is traditionally dedicated to the remembrance of the dead and bereaved among us, and this year has particular significance as we remember those who have died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the effects the pandemic has had on Ireland, Bishop Farrell said, “As the intangible coronavirus spreads, its effects make themselves felt in every corner of this land, and in every land across the globe. Its power and danger leave us in no doubt: on this island alone it has robbed us of 2,600 lives. Lives cut short, families brought face-to-face with helplessness and grief, in exceedingly difficult circumstances, without the usual supports at times of loss, distanced in all senses of the word from family, friends, and neighbours.

“Today is a day we stand with each other, to support, to pray, and simply – but so importantly – to be with people in their grief and loss. It is a moment of solidarity with those who have lost a loved one; it is a moment of faith, and opportunity to offer the consolation and hope that faith brings.”

Bishop Farrell continued, “Covid-19 with its threat of death brings into focus a key horizon in human life. It may also spur us to ask whether our priorities were previously askew. The effects of new priorities are evident everywhere, codified in the new labels “essential” and “non-essential” – though it is not always clear what determines ‘essential’ or ‘not.’ Death quickly puts what is essential for us into perspective. The pandemic brings our vulnerability home, and our dependence on each other, the gift that life is: it helps us see what is truly important in life, what matters.”

In conclusion, Bishop Farrell said, “Christ’s suffering and death was not his last word. The crucified one is also the risen one. His resurrection and ours is the ultimate horizon on life. His wounds remain; the cross is not cast aside, it becomes the tree of life. It gives us a new vision, renews our strength, and offers consolation and hope through the one in whom death was defeated.”

To read to full letter, click here.

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