Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
As the Easter Season progresses, we find ourselves still in Lockdown. We are all affected by the many physical restrictions placed upon us, one of the most difficult of course being the inability to gather as a parish family to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments. We think of all those affected in so many ways by the virus and its repercussions and also of parishioners, friends and neighbours who have died and families who are mourning and hurting.
The Easter Season each year, beginning on Easter Sunday and leading through to Pentecost, gives us the opportunity to read almost in its entirety the Acts of the Apostles. The daily and often Sunday readings at Mass during Easter come from this book written by Saint Luke and tell of the very early Church with all its joys and tribulations. It speaks of the Church growing in number daily and the great miracles performed by the Apostles, but it also tells of persecutions like the martyrdom of Saint Stephen and the vehement oppression of the faithful by Saint Paul before his conversion.
I’ve been reflecting on how those earliest persecuted Christians, filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, must have felt when they were unable to gather as a family to celebrate the Mass which had become central to their lives. The was undoubtedly that sense of loss and hurt and confusion but also the sense of determination and courage which came from knowing our Lord was always with them. In a way, we are experiencing the same things in our present day. Thankfully, there isn’t a physical persecution forcing the closure and destruction of parishes, as has happened in the past and still happens in some parts of the world today, but nevertheless the Coronavirus and necessary restrictions have seen us unable to gather as we would normally.
I know from speaking to a number of you how you feel that sense of loss but also how you are remaining spiritually strong and resilient. Just as the knowledge of the presence of God watching over them, walking with them, supporting and helping them sustained those first Christians, so too it does us today. While taking our daily exercise, either around the Cowan Park or through the streets, Father Laurent and I have had spirits raised time and again by encounters with parishioners and friends of the parish more than happy to tell us how you are keeping prayers going and following Masses and services online, where possible.
And so, brothers, sisters and friends, as we continue this journey, I urge you to keep strong! Keep up the prayers, spend time with God every day. During this beautiful month of May, the month of Mary, turn also in your Rosaries to Our Lady, the Help of Christians and Health of the Sick and ask her to take our prayers to her son on our behalf. If possible, create a small altar to Our Lady I your home. Following her example, try to continue to be of service where possible to those in need—remember this is done physically but also in offering prayers to God for those in need of them. We can all do something to help others.
May God bless and keep you all safe. Father Laurent and I keep you in our daily Masses every day and look forward to that day—which WILL come—when we are all able to be together again in the parish church!