By Cian Molloy - 06 April, 2020
A ‘message of hope’ has been posted on the YouTube website by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin who, like all those over 70, finds himself in isolation at home because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Indeed, the Dublin Archdiocese has 200 priests aged over 70, all of whom are in isolation. “This is placing a great strain on those who remain active in ministry,” says the archbishop. “Priests also share in the fears and anxieties of the moment and deserve our support.”
Nevertheless, while the archbishop says he finds being confined to home “inconvenient”, he says his experience is nothing in comparison to the hardship experienced by many others.
Among those in his thoughts are: the bereaved who have not had the consolation of a funeral and who, maybe, are in isolation themselves; families who find themselves confined together in “tight spaces”; families who are anxious about financial difficulties; and isolated individuals who are coping with loneliness.
“We tend to forget that there are many elderly in our communities who may have no close relative,” said the archbishop. “We have to seek out and reach out to such people.
“Over these days, I have been calling people on the telephone to ask how they are. The remarkable thing is that so many of them reply that they are all right because neighbours and friends have been helpful and keep in touch. Good neighbourliness is a trademark of Irish families and it is moving to see how they are responding in the current situation. Young people have been great.”
The archbishop says that “small gestures of practical kindness” are hugely important at the moment, adding that we all owe a debt to those serving on the front line of the pandemic.
In the current situation, parishes have had to be very resourceful and innovative in how they reach out to the faithful. In his YouTube message, the archbishop says: “Online communication is a great blessing.”
Looking ahead to the next seven days, Archbishop Martin comments: “Holy Week is central to the life of the Church. Like many priests, this will be the first time in my entire ministry that I have to participate from home. I share in the sadness not just of priests but of most Catholics who experience the same void in their spirituality.
“Holy Week is not just about ceremonies. The ceremonies are there to draw us into the most essential dimension of our belief in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Holy Week is about a Jesus who emptied himself out of love for us. His total self-giving opened for all of humanity new life and resurrection. Holy Week is at the root of our Christian hope.
“Christian hope reminds us that, even in moments of darkness, evil will be overcome by goodness and death is not the final word.
“Even in the current situation where the Holy Week liturgies will be celebrated behind closed doors, we can find in our hearts ways to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection and draw from that mystery the strength to allow goodness to triumph in our lives.”
To view Archbishop Martin’s Message of Hope, click here.