Today is Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday to be more traditional.
We will no doubt be praying for our mothers and grandmothers, and indeed all our families in these troubling times. We will have on our hearts all those who have died or are suffering from the virus itself, all those living in fear of it or in heightened loneliness, and all those suffering from or concerned about the consequences for their businesses, their livelihoods or their education.
We must also pray for our Queen and Country, for our government and the leaders of all nations, that may be given wisdom as they have to take difficult decisions. Let us be mindful that for all the scientific analysis, there are few certainties and our leaders have to seek, without the benefit of hindsight, the least worst options.
There has been much criticism of selfish behaviour, particularly as regards panic buying, but we should be heartened at the many reports of people rallying round to help others in need. Our particular prayers will be with the health and care and emergency workers who have to continue to work in close contact with others.
Mothering Sunday is an occasion when prayers are also due to Mother Church. This is a particularly difficult time for all in the Church. Like any mother, the Church’s first instinct in times of trouble is to gather her children close to her breast to hold them and comfort them. So it is particularly distressing at this time for all in the Church that we are having to keep people away, to close for public worship. That is not our natural instinct, but it is what we are having to do. Like any mother we look to do what is best for our children.
This has been a frustrating week. Guidance has become increasingly more severe as the epidemic has worsened. It is distressing not to be able to worship and celebrate the sacraments together, though be assured I am saying the Mass daily for all our church family. We are now told that we can open our churches on Sundays for private prayer. Those who choose to attend (and those who are vulnerable or self-isolating must not feel any obligation to attend, better to stay safe) will need to keep a healthy distance apart and will find the quiet time very different from Sunday Mass. But at least the doors will be open at the normal time on Sundays (0930 at St Laurence, 1100 at Holy Trinity) and some of us will be able to pray at the same time in the same place. Those who cannot join us might like to choose those times to pray so that you can be with us in spirit if not in person. (Apologies for the very short notice for these openings today, the guidance that we could do so came only very late.)
Much telephoning around is being done to ensure we keep up contact, especially with those who do not do e mail or Facebook. If you are in touch with members of our congregations who will not have received this by e mail, please do feel free to pass on a copy if you can find a safe way to do so. And please do not hesitate to call me if you have any sort of need at all, physical or spiritual, with which I might be able to assist. Or if you would just like a chat.
Finally, I commend to you the letter from Bishop Jonathan which can be read here http://www.holytrinityilkeston.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20.03.20-Pastoral-letter.pdf
Fr Giles Orton SSC
Assistant Curate, St Laurence, Long Eaton & Holy Trinity, Ilkeston