By Cian Molloy - 26 July, 2020
All those who were planning to take part in today’s cancelled Reek Sunday pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick are
asked to observe the traditional devotions associated with the event – receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, writing petitions and attending Mass – in their home parishes instead.
As parish priest of Westport, it is traditional for the Archbishop of Tuam to celebrate a vigil Mass on the eve of Reek Sunday at St Mary’s Church in the town and although the pilgrimage has been cancelled, Archbishop Michael Neary maintained that practice yesterday.
In his homily, Dr Neary said “While the possibility of climbing Ireland’s Holy Mountain is not possible this year, I encourage those who had hoped to do so to still attend Mass, write petitions, and go to Confession in your own parishes. Such faith practice is very important in order to keep these important links with this year’s Reek Sunday.”
At the moment there is no obligation on the faithful to attend Sunday Mass, but increasing numbers of people are joining public acts of worship and the celebration of Mass in their home parishes.
The archbishop also said that the pandemic has created ‘a very valuable opportunity’ to reflect on what are the implications of our faith in this’ time of change and challenge for all’.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, we had a sense of being in control, said the Archbishop: “In the time of orientation, we had a sense of being in control of situations. Ease of mobility, unrestricted travel, and an economy at near full employment presented us with a world that was largely predictable. The experience of disorientation with the arrival of Covid-19 was sudden, sharp, unsympathetic and, for many, shattering.
“As we work our way through it with the help of our faith in the Lord and the support of others, we begin to catch glimpses of a new, and potentially very positive phase of re-orientation.
“In the time of orientation, we had a sense of being in control of situations. Ease of mobility, unrestricted travel, and an economy at near full employment presented us with a world that was largely predictable. The experience of disorientation with the arrival of Covid-19 was sudden, sharp, unsympathetic and, for many, shattering. As we work our way through it with the help of our faith in the Lord and the support of others, we begin to catch glimpses of a new, and potentially very positive phase of re-orientation.
“The recent ‘lockdown has made us aware of the speed at which we were moving and the busyness of our lives.”
However, the experience of COVID-19 has been more than disorientating, said the Archbishop: “Disruption, disillusionment and death confronted us. Restricted mobility, loss of employment, inability to visit with family and friends, worship with others in sacred places, sporting events and social interaction all suffered. The microscopic virus had effectively shut down the whole world. The results will be far-reaching in terms of physical, psychological, emotional health and well-being as well as for the economy. Our fragility and vulnerability have been exposed; our confidence is shattered.”
The experience of this new disease is a huge challenge to our faith, said Dr Neary, but a new period of re-orientation is beginning to emerge. “This challenge has brought out the best in people, awakening our need for and appreciation of connectivity and community,” said the archbishop. “Goodness, generosity and gentleness have been expressed in neighbourliness, voluntarism and the huge sacrifices made by individuals and families. Our faith will not provide easy answers, yet faith will help to provide perspective which will enable us to address the challenges.
“We cannot and should not expect to return to where we had been prior to Covid-19. Therefore, it is important for us to ask what have we learned in our recent experience? Has our independence been called into question? Where is the Lord in all of this? Are we open to receive and foster the newness, solidarity and values which are emerging, or are we endeavouring to return to our pre-COVID ways?”