If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet,
how much more should you wash each other’s feet? Jn 13:14

What a year! Together all of us have lived through a year of the Coronavirus, each has experienced it in our own unique circumstances. The winter months have been particularly difficult. The light and new green growth of spring time has never been so welcome, and it has coincided with the season of Lent. Let us keep our spirits up and encourage one another in following public health guidance.

Thank God for the way so many people have been there for each other. Thank God for the way frontline workers have sacrificed themselves to provide essential services. We are full of gratitude and acknowledgement of how important it is to live lives of generous service. Individually we are at our best when our communities are at their best.

With Government guidance at Level 5, and with a genuine concern that we could have another major wave of the virus ahead, it is understandable, but sad, that we have our Easter ceremonies without a congregation. It is a blessing that you can join in the ceremonies so easily from your home via modern technology. What we miss is the dual presence: the presence of the community gathered in church, and together receiving the Real Presence at the altar.

Here are three points to reflect on this Easter 2021

This Holy Week and Easter, joining in Mass from home, seek nourishment at the table of God’s word. The introduction to the Roman Missal speaks of the Liturgy of the Word at Mass: “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in church, God himself speaks to his People, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel” (29). When you go forth from the Easter ceremonies carry words from the scriptures in your heart: the Last Supper, ‘you should wash each other’s feet’; the commemoration of the Passion, ‘This is my body, given up for you’; Easter morning, ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, He is risen …’.
This year has reminded us that home is where we pray each day. Home is the place where we first received our faith and where we live it. In the home God is present with us. Prayer in the home is the time we spend turned towards God talking to him about our lives and asking his help; giving praise and thanks; asking forgiveness and renewing our trust. Has prayer in the home helped you and your family over the past year? It will be a great blessing if, when this virus is finally a memory, we have a new awareness of prayer in the home.
A word of thanks to our priests and deacons, and all who have contributed to the life of our parishes over the past year. A word of thanks to our schools for the great work they have done. A word of encouragement to all young people looking forward to First Confession, First Communion or Confirmation. We cannot make any plans until we know when we will have congregations in church. The situation is disappointing, but the ceremonies will be worth waiting for. Another group who have suffered are the Leaving Cert students. May they trust that all will be well and, come the autumn, they will be satisfied with the options that come their way.
Thank you to all who have continued to contribute to parish funds and the parish dues for our priests. Keep up the good work. Priests have been greatly encouraged by your faithfulness. Please remember other local charities and voluntary bodies over the Easter season, so much fundraising has not been possible. All need funds to pay for the basics like insurance, heating, and the overheads of an office. Please, let us not forget the Lenten campaign of Trócaire. If the Coronavirus has been hard on us, how much more difficult has it been for the communities Trócaire supports?
Finally, every time we pray over the Easter season let us all, people and priests, remember the deceased of the past year, and their grieving loved ones. Have a comforting word for the bereaved when you meet. In this world and in the next our hope is in Christ: “Christ is Risen, alleluia”. Be assured of my prayers.

Bishop Ray Browne
Easter 2021