By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 May, 2020
One of the lessons people have learned from the Coronavirus crisis is that time is something to be valued, Bishop Brendan Leahy has said.
In his address at the end of Mass on Sunday at St John’s Cathedral, the Bishop of Limerick noted that before the pandemic, when everything was so frantic and frenetic, people often complained that time had disappeared.
But the lockdown had forced people to slow down. “Suddenly, with the virus, it was as if someone dramatically slammed on the brakes,” he said.
Addressing the faithful via webcam Dr Leahy said, “In these past weeks many have said they have discovered the beauty of more time with their family, time for personal reflection and thinking about things, and time to send a greeting to others, time to be creative, time for exercise, time for learning how to work better with social media. And from all this, time to think about how we really should live our lives.”
He added, “We’ve also learned how time is something we can’t control. Time is a gift.”
Sadly, for some hit by the virus, their time on earth had come to an end, and it was time to remember and pray for them.
Acknowledging that some might feel that they want the restrictions lifted faster because time rested heavily on their hands, the bishop said that in a year’s time, “we will look back and these weeks may well seem to have been a short time – and not entirely a bad time.”
“May 18th might seem so far away but as we all know, two weeks is really nothing,” he said and added, “It is good for us all to value time. It offers the chance to hope, to love, to begin again.”
Referring to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar’s announcement of a possible exit strategy from the lockdown on Friday Dr Leahy said, “We are seeing the first buds on the tree of hope about the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions. We now see how our summer is shaping up. It is going to be marked by significant days when we’ll be collectively tip-toeing our way forward. The journey is still a challenging one but it is good news. We are on the way.”
However, he stressed that “clearly things are not going to simply return to ‘as was’ with the flicking of a switch” and he added, “Likewise for our own church life, it is going to take time.”
Underlining the importance of how people approach and use this time Bishop Leahy said, “It is not enough to kill time – time is made up of many moments. And just like a line is made up of many dots – so the time allotted to each of us is made up of many moments to be lived one by one, day by day.”
“What I want to suggest is that instead of focusing on how am I going to get through the next two weeks or months, let’s keep our eye now on trying to do well what we can do, day by day.”
Recalling a story about the athlete Sonia O’Sullivan, he highlighted how her strategy for winning her first 10,000m in a European final. When asked how did she do it, she explained that she ran it as four 2,500metres runs.
“She broke it down into chunks, concentrated on the 2,500m ahead, did her best for each one of the four and it all added up into something glorious.”
“She did not dwell on the longer haul, just what was in front of her. So, perhaps it’s time to look at just what is in front of us. To do it in a way that is step by step.”
Dr Leahy urged people to have a daily routine to follow and give a shape to their day.
Highlighting United World Week, the Bishop of Limerick noted that many people all over the world take up the proposal to stop at midday for a brief moment of prayer or reflection and pray for peace.
“The time God has given us is his gift to help us build up our world. The Bible tells us that God too had his routine/schedule – he created the world in seven days. So it is good for us to have a schedule and to have a purpose to our day.”
Stressing the importance of keeping hope alive in these days, Bishop Leahy said, “As long as our heart is beating and we have time – we can love and hope.”
He said hope is one the great Christian virtues that isn’t talked about enough. “It keeps us from discouragement and it sustains us through difficult times when we feel abandoned. It opens our heart to look forward – beyond this life – to the happiness promised in eternal life.”
“We can do a certain amount ourselves but it is when we hand over to Jesus Christ – the Good Shepherd – our burden is somewhat lighter.”
The Bishop of Limerick reiterated his call to people to take up Pope Francis’ invitation and rediscover the Rosary in May.
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv