Keeping The Faith – With Fr. Pat and Canon Elaine
Writes Ciaran Dineen
As we find ourselves in week 10 of the new world that surrounds us it would be fair to suggest that many of us are pretty fed up. While we follow guidelines and restrictions in order to protect those who are most vulnerable in society we must not forget to look after ourselves and keep a healthy mindset. Fortunately with the good weather lots of us have taken the opportunity to release some stress by walking, running and a particularly popular choice, gardening.
Although we miss our friends many are lucky to be surrounded by family, but for some they may not be lucky enough to find themselves in healthy relationships, or may in fact be alone during this difficult time. In such situations many of those in our community can seek comfort in their church and faith, but even that has been somewhat stripped from their weekly if not daily routine as our places of worship continue to remain closed. However, despite the darkness that we been confronted with, so many glimpses of hope, light and solidarity have emerged as our communities have rallied together. Between raising money for Pieta House and through small acts of kindness like shopping for our elderly neighbours, we have witnessed the very best in us, that acts as a reminder for future hope and prosperity.
Two of Carrigaline’s favourite oracles of faith, Father Pat Fogarty and Canon Elaine Murray are more aware than most of the adverse impacts that current circumstances play in affecting all of our lives. “This dreaded pandemic has plunged us all into a common experience of incredible and unexpected fragility”, explains Fr. Pat. “It puts into question many aspects of our lives and of our world that we had taken for granted. It has caused great suffering and upheaval and has impacted and indeed continues to impact on all our lives.”
It would be natural for us to feel completely overwhelmed by recent events but Fr. Pat believes that looking on our faith and reminding ourselves of the Easter message of the risen Christ that we can remain positive. “When we are tempted to look down, may we be inspired to look around and see the hand of God in the beauty of creation, the canopy of blossoms, trees bursting into bud and the song of the birds. Rather than curse the darkness that surrounds us, may we light a candle of hope.” It is also important to try and make use of the hand that we have been dealt and bring our new learnings with us as we move forward, with Father Fogarty suggesting that “we use this time to become more aware that it is in God’s world we live and move and have our being. May we become conscious of what is really important in life; faith, family and friends.”
This call to take stock of what is most important is shared by Canon Elaine Murray, who herself has taken time to reflect on her own life and goes on to tell us about her recent experiences that I’m sure many can relate to. “I have found myself thinking, really thinking, about my priorities. Things that were ‘so’ important just a little while ago have had to be cancelled or postponed and do you know what, most of them didn’t matter in the greater scheme of things. I wonder when, and if, we ever get back to where we were, will I carry that understanding with me? I really hope so.” For Elaine she thinks that it is the simplest things in life that we have previously taken for granted, like the “smell of a damp walk in Currabinny Woods” that now may give us some food for thought.
However, it is okay to feel like you’re struggling right now, you are not alone. You don’t have to be someone who finds a new talent or “bakes for Ireland” as Elaine jokes, but instead realise that “each morning brings its own promise for the day, as the hymn puts it ‘Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me’” Faith can guide us through this darkness according to Elaine who notes that “our faith can sustain us during times of upheaval and pain. The gospel in our services on 10th May was from the 14th chapter of John where Jesus tells us that he is ‘the way , the truth and the life’ Regardless of what is going on around us, we can always rely on Jesus to show us the way. We don’t have to know everything, be amazing and brilliant all of the time. These are extraordinary times and it’s ok to feel inadequate sometimes, just remember that you are loved and valued for who you are, not who you think you need to be.”
We recognise the hardship that our church closures are having for some members of our community whose regular visits to our places of worship is far more than out of faith, but also for social interaction.
Father Pat wants to reassure those in our community that we are especially thinking of them at this time, saying, “even though we are apart we are connected and united in a spirit of prayer and community. Although the church building is closed, the Spirit of God is alive and active in the domestic churches of our homes and in the churches of our hearts, evident in the many acts of love, generosity and kindness which abound in our community; phone calls, what's app groups shopping for neighbours, etc., etc. Sooner or later this pandemic will pass, at a very high cost for many. But, it will pass. As we move forward in these challenging times, may we all play our part in trying to create a better life in our common home, at peace with creation, others and God. We remember the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si, “The world is not our possession but a gift”