Letter from Rev. Canon Alastair Graham 16th March 2020

CORONA VIRUS OUTBREAK

16th March 2020 

Until recently the news about the Corona Virus was, for many, about the situation in China and the Far East.  It was only when news broke of the outbreak in Italy that many “ears popped up” and, of course, in the last few days the outbreak in Ireland has dominated news bulletins and personal conversations.

Naturally this has aroused much anxiety and, indeed, fear as the authorities grapple with the task of both dealing with,and controlling, the outbreak.  We have all been called to play our part and we have both a duty and a responsibility to do so.  This requires changes to our lifestyles and also the showing of support for those most adversely affected – those who have succumbed to the illness, the dedicated frontline doctors, nurses, ambulance paramedics, pharmacies, medical staff and carers, those who have sadly lost their employment and all whose work is essential for the provision of daily essentials of food and medicine.

In the Parish regretfully, but sadly necessary, public church services have been suspended to support “social distancing”.  All Saints’ Church Mullingar will be open each Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 11.00 a.m. for those who may wish to have a time of private prayer in church.The seats in the church will be positioned over a metre apart.

Social distancing is absolutely essential and we must all play our part in complying with the restriction.

However, for Christians, spiritual distancing is not at all necessary.  Indeed, spiritual togetherness is essential.  We need more prayer not less.

On Wednesday 18th March I will be circulating to each home in the Parish, prayers, bible passages and devotional thoughts, which I hope parishioners will pray each day in their homes.  Joseph Scriven, the Irish poet, born in Banbridge, Co. Down, spent much of his adult life in Canada.  While staying in Ontario he learned of his mother’s illness in Ireland and he wrote her a poem to comfort her called “Praying Without Ceasing”.  This poem has become a much-loved prayer for millions of Christians who now sing the poem as a hymn – “What a Friend we have in Jesus”.  The poem reminds us that we should never be discouraged, that we can find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share, and at all times we should take our anxieties and worries “to the Lord in prayer.  In His arms He will take and shield you and you will find a solace there”.

May I invite you to pray this prayer each day:

We remember in mercy, our Father, those who have succumbed to the Corona virus and their families and friends.  We ask you to bless all that is being done for their good by doctors, nurses, ambulance paramedics, medical staff, carers and pharmacist.  We pray that you will surround them with your healing love and power and we make this our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

With God’s blessings to you for your safety and protection.

Revd. Canon Alastair Graham

Rector of the Mullingar Union of Parishes