By Katie Ascough - 29 May, 2020
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, has released a pastoral message for the feast of Pentecost which takes place this Sunday, 31 May.
The bishop begins his message by reminding the faithful of Pope Francis’ encouragement to “renew our confidence in Our Lord and resolve to confront this pandemic situation ‘with the strength of faith, the certitude of hope and the fervour of charity’ (Francis, March 8, 2020).”
The bishop highlights that the spiritual well-being of the faithful is a concern of priests at this time. This Saturday, 30 May, in preparation for Pentecost, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available across the Waterford and Lismore diocese in open-air venues. For the list of confession times and venues, see the diocesan website.
“Many people of faith are finding not being able to receive Holy Communion extremely burdensome,” Bishop Alphonsus states. “Like many others I am very sad that we still cannot gather for Eucharist together.”
The bishop notes that people feel “frustrated” and “cannot understand why the public celebration of the sacraments is not allowed”. “Sacraments sustain and strengthen us,” he says, “and many feel as if their vital importance has not been given due consideration. Care for the human person entails not only the physical but also the spiritual and psychological dimensions. Many things have to be taken into consideration to deal with this pastoral problem which is not an easy one.”
However, he also notes that some people “rightly fear” gathering in a congregation when churches reopen for Holy Mass. “I wish them to know that there is no obligation to attend Mass during this emergency situation and anyone with genuine worries or an underlying health condition should stay safe at home and know that God is with them where they are,” the bishop says. “If they know how to access the many online Masses and devotions, they can benefit spiritually from them. Some parishes broadcast Mass on radio or via webcam. I, myself have a daily message on YouTube on our Diocesan website, daily Rosary on Facebook, live-streamed Sunday Masses, and other initiatives.”
The bishop concludes by commending the patience of the faithful in living without the Eucharist. “It is my hope that we will not have to wait too long for the Mass to be publicly celebrated, but we must proceed with caution. Each parish must be ready with volunteers who, working with their priest, ensure that all reasonable measures are taken to have our places of worship very safe so that people can be confident as they worship. This will be a great help when the time comes for public Masses to resume,” Bishop Cullinan says.
He thanks all those who have “kept the Lord company in Adoration in parishes throughout the diocese” and who have “brought with them the intentions of others, remembering especially the sick, the bereaved and the lonely”.
Finally, the bishop invites parishioners to share their views on any issue raised in his pastoral message, saying he can be best contacted at [email protected] or Bishop’s House, Johns Hill, Waterford.