Newsletter


Newsletter
The Ascension of the Lord, 24th May 2020
Pastoral Letter

Missing Each Other, Missing the Lord

Bishop Dermot Farrell
Diocese of Ossory

“I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10)

Introduction
Now that the pathway to the public celebration of the sacraments, particularly the Mass, is coming into view, Catholics look forward to returning to their parish church with the planned easing of restrictions on public gatherings. Since the suspension of public Masses in mid-March, people have been encouraged to tune into live-streamed Masses. As they attended Mass virtually, they looked forward to the day when they would be able to attend in person, and receive sacramentally again. Many people have told me that while this arrangement in the health emergency was a great comfort, they also felt a loss that they could not receive the Eucharist—the Bread of Life—in person. Grandparents acutely understand such a loss. Although their children and grandchildren could phone or Zoom or FaceTime, it was no substitute for a visit, for hugs and kisses, the closeness and life visiting brings.

Restricted Access to the Sacraments
The pandemic restrictions affect more than Mass: celebrations of First Holy Communion and of Confirmation have also been postponed until the spread of this disease is brought under control. Engaged couples have been forced to cancel and defer their weddings. Restricted access to hospitals and nursing homes means that celebrating the Sacrament of the Sick, and bringing Holy Communion to those who are ill is far more difficult. Many have had to bid farewell to a loved one without the consolation of extended family and friends at the funeral. Understandably, we all look forward to a time when it will be possible, again, to share our lives, to gather in our churches, to celebrate and be nourished by our faith. However, we also have to acknowledge that in disturbing the rhythm of our lives, the pandemic can also disturb our faith; it can interrupt the good habits of a lifetime, changing our patterns of prayer, and restricting how we celebrate the Sacraments. I, therefore, wish to reflect with you, from the perspective of our faith, on some aspects of what is unfolding in our lives, in our land, and across the world.

Beyond the Virtual: The Sacraments and the Real
What many Catholics lament is the loss of the community dimension of our faith, and its human dimension. There is no Church without community; our humanity is at the heart of our faith. Just as the Saviour is truly human and truly divine, so the People of God need to be in communion with each other, and in communion with their Lord (see 1Cor 10:16–17). We don’t often reflect on these things; we don’t have to. But when they’re taken away almost overnight, we naturally wonder what is happening, and what is happening to us. Of course, people are grateful for the televised celebrations, as well as Masses on webcams from churches near and far. The driving force behind this ‘virtual’ participation in the Eucharistic liturgy is clear, but online Masses and spiritual Communion are only a partial reflection of our common experience of the Church, both past and present.

We believe that the Sacraments are privileged moments of encounter with God. Through these actions of the community of faith, we are drawn into a deeper relationship with God and with each other. Through Baptism and the Eucharist we are incorporated into Christ (1 Cor 12:13). We become not only united with Christ, but we become one in Christ (Gal 3:26-29; Col 3:11). Here, as always, we see God and people ‘working’ hand-in-hand. Becoming one in Christ is something that happens over time; it is something that happens in our lives; it happens in the reality of our lives; over time we are changed, changed by God in Christ, changed by God’s grace. While there are moments of insight and illumination, while things happen that stop us in our tracks, most change is slow. It demands attention, humility, lots of starting over and over again. Like building a house, or creating a garden, growing in God’s grace requires time and plenty of self-investment. We all marvel at the beautiful gardens and homes on TV shows. We see the before and after; it is harder to see what comes in-between.

Our day-to-day lives are the in-between. The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, are food for those day-to-day lives. As we could not receive these Sacraments during the pandemic, we were not being nourished and strengthened by them in the usual way. That is part of the reason, Pope Francis stressed that live-streamed Masses even from parish churches, and spiritual Communion, are less than the Church (see homily 17th April 2020). Virtual Mass is not the Church. The liturgy is not a film, nor are we spectators. Many people, unable to attend a funeral Mass, appreciated the value of modern technology, but also realised that there was a missing dimension in the virtual which was no substitute for being present. A virtual funeral helps when we are geographically apart, but it is no substitute for being present, for being with those who are important to us. People have come to the realisation that “watching Mass” is very different from being physically present and participating in the celebration with other members of their family and the community. For all its advantages and immediacy, the virtual is no substitute for physical presence with the assembled community.

Sacrament and Community
From its very beginning Jesus’ mission had two inseparable dimensions—announcing Good News, and gathering a community of disciples. Right from the start, Jesus preached, and as he preached, he called people to follow him. And he called them in twos and threes. While Jesus calls us person to person, he calls us into community at the same time. From our very beginnings then, the Church has been a community who gathered around their Lord—to hear his word, to give praise and thanks to God—and who were sent forth on mission (see 1 Cor 15:9 and Gal 1:13). Christ gathers us and sends us forth. The Good Shepherd gathers his flock, feeds us, and sends us forth: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” We, who are people of the Eucharist, must ourselves become “the people of the towel and the water,” to use a wonderful phrase from Canadian mystic, Catherine de Hueck Doherty. Sharing the Bread of the Eucharist and washing the feet of our neighbour go together (see John 13:14). In recent weeks, it is not our faith that has been taken from us—but the closeness, the touch, of those who accompany us on the road of life—our sisters and brothers, and the Lord Jesus himself. We hunger for the Bread of Life. We long for that bread in all its dimensions: the Eucharist, our parish at prayer, our friends and neighbours with us in our time of sorrow, and in our day of joy. We experience the loss of this community dimension acutely because all the mysteries of our faith—the Sacraments, the Church, the Incarnation itself—cannot be relegated to the realm of the spiritual.

The Sacraments that we miss are actions of the Christian community. They are Christ working among his people. That is why we celebrate them together in church, and are oriented to the “full and active participation of the whole community” (Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 14). Sacraments, then, are moments for we and not I. These days, as I preside at Mass, and look out at the empty pews, I pray with and for the people who cannot be there. St Mary’s Cathedral has beautiful stained-glass windows depicting the saints. As the sunlight filters in, I am reminded that the liturgy joins heaven and earth in one act of praise to God. But, as a parishioner noted in an Easter message, “It is wonderful to watch the Mass, but it is not the same. I miss my church family. I pray that we can all be together again soon.”

The Sacraments and Life
God sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him (see 1 John 4:9 and John 3:16). God did just not send us a message. Christ did come and the disciples broke bread with him at the Last Supper and beside the Sea of Galilee (see John 21:9–14). In other words, Christianity is not an abstract religion, or some philosophy. In Jesus, God became flesh, and more to the point, he invites us to eat his body and drink his blood. We receive the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ into our bodies; we take him into ourselves. Each time we participate in the Eucharist, Christ nourishes us with the gift of himself. We receive the Body of Christ first and foremost to enter into a deeper communion with Christ, and thereby into a deeper communion with God and with each other. It is this fullness of life, and its celebration among us that we miss in these strange pandemic days.

As we lament our distance from Sacraments, and the Eucharist in particular, may God give us the strength to become the body of Christ for one another as the current pandemic requires: to love our neighbours by staying away, to practice mercy through acts of care, to speak and share only the truth, to serve the common good even when it inconveniences us, to give thanks for our many blessings, and not to forget the sacrifice and generosity of so many. In a word, to be for one another living signs of God’s kingdom, living sacraments of God’s life. In stepping back, for now, may we see the fullness of the powerful picture being painted by our actions in these days.

Waiting in Hope
For all their difficulty, these very difficult times bring home to people what is truly important for us. After our initial shock and fear, we began to appreciate that a full fridge might permit us to survive, but was no guarantee of the fullness of life (see John 10:10). For fullness of life we need more: we need the people that are important to us. That is what the pandemic has been taking from us, the good and ordinary way of being with each other. But we wait patiently with hope. It is in this spirit that we need to follow the public health guidance. While this is painful and difficult, it also necessary. We keep a distance to keep each other safe. But the distance we thus create will keep us safe; it is, like the poem says, “the light from the lighthouse that protects as it pushes away” (John Ashbery).

The following prayer, which we know from the Mass, has been for me a prayer of hope and strength. May it be same for you.

“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

+Dermot Farrell
Bishop of Ossory



***


Ascension of the Lord  Year   A. 24th May 2020
Recently Deceased 
Brigid Lanigan, Graigue-Hayden
William Sherwood, England

Anniversaries Occurring At This Time
Philip Murphy, Ballyline
Bill & Johanna Doyle, Ballykeeffe
Paddy & Maggie Hoyne, Ballykeffe
Jean Lanigan, Graigue

Mass will be offered in private for the anniversaries that are occurring around this time.

Important Information

While things are starting to return to normal, slowly but surely, it’s time to make decisions on upcoming parish events so as to give absolute surety on what’s happening.
The annual Cemetery Mass in Ballykeeffe will not take place this year. As we cannot guarantee social distancing beside graves, it would be neither safe nor practical.
The Pattern’s at Dowrath Mass Rock, Kilmanagh Pattern, Killaloe Pattern and St. Michael’s will not take place this year.
Lotto
On account of the Corona Virus, the parish lotto has been suspended until further notice.

Support Line For Older People
ALONE has launched a national support line relation to the outbreak of Covid-19. The line is open, Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Call 0818 222 024

Churches Open
Our churches are opened every day so feel free to drop in for a moment of silence and prayer. Please observe social distancing and use the hand sanitizer provided

Swallows
While conscious of surface contact in this pandemic, we must keep the inner doors closed on account of swallows. They created quite a mess in Ballycallan church soiling the newly-painted walls. The same happened in Killaloe.
If you are visiting the churches, please use the hand sanitizer provided before entering and leaving the church. The doors are washed down every day

Cathedral Draw
The Cathedral Draw is postponed until this current crisis has passed. Those who have joined are still in for the draw when it does start.
Couples & Relationship Support Line
If you need to speak to an experienced Couples & Relationship Counsellor during this time of unprecedented stress and pressure on family on family life, Contact 01 531 3331. 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. Calls charged at local rate

Funerals
While baptisms and weddings are suspended at this time, funerals are still permitted, provided the strict guidelines pertaining to social distancing are observed.

Trócaire
Thanks to all who have returned their trocaire boxes, I will send the money on to the diocese for forwarding to Trocaire.
If you wish to donate to this charity, you can do so online. Even with no collections, they must support the most vulnerable peopel in 3rd world countries.

Parish Envelopes
These can be left in my letterbox in Kilmanagh. The door is wiped clean everyday so there’s no fear of catching the ‘rona’.

Helpline
Kilkenny Co. Council helpline for services for services such as delivery of food, medicines, or transport for essential trips. Telephone 1 800 500 000

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the hour of conflict. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God restrain him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast Satan down to hell, and with him all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Facebook
The parish has set up a Facebook page
www.facebook.com/ballycallan.parish
We post pictures of the parish, as well as events and items of interest.
We are looking for old pictures of the parish to share with others. If you think you might have some, particularly relating to the churches, get in touch.


***


Sixth Sunday  of  Easter  Year   A. 17th May 2020
Recently Deceased
Betty Nugent, Dowrath
Anniversaries Occurring  At This Time
Canon Richard Phelan P.P. Ballycallan
Nicholas Teehan, Shipton
Michael & Brigid O’Sullivan, Brittas
Paddy Moore, Brittas
Pat Cahill, Redhouse
Joan Cleere, Killaloe
Marie Hennessy, Killaloe
Patricia Power, Killaloe
John O'Connor, Kilmanagh
Mass will be offered in private for the anniversaries that are occurring around this time.
Important Information
While things are starting to return to normal, slowly but surely, it’s time to make decisions on upcoming parish events so as to give absolute surety on what’s happening.
The annual Cemetery Mass in Ballykeeffe will not take place this year. As we cannot guarantee social distancing beside graves, it would be neither safe nor practical.
The Pattern’s at Dowrath Mass Rock, Kilmanagh Pattern, Killaloe Pattern and St. Michael’s Pattern will not take place this year.
Lotto
On account of the Corona Virus, the parish lotto has been suspended until further notice.
Support Line For Older People
ALONE has launched a national support line relation to the outbreak of Covid-19. The line is open, Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. Call 0818 222 024
First Holy Communion
This weekend would have been the wonderful occasion of First Holy Communion in our parish. Unfortunately this has had to be deferred in the current circumstances of shutdown.
In agreement with the school, the parents and pupils we have now set October 10th as the new date for the sacrament. This is, of course conditional on where we are at with the pandemic.
Churches Open
Our churches are opened every day so feel free to drop in for a moment of silence and prayer. Please observe social distancing and use the hand sanitizer provided
Swallows
Last week we have some unusual visitors dropping in to pray. With both outer and inner doors open, curious swallows entered the church and it proved quite a job to get them out. Some damage was done to the paintwork and a couple of them died when they became trapped under seats.
To avoid this happening, we will leave the inner church doors closed over. Please use the hand sanitizer provided before and after you enter the church. The doors are washed down every day
Cathedral Draw
The Cathedral Draw is postponed until this current crisis has passed. Those who have joined are still in for the draw when it does start.
Couples & Relationship Support Line
If you need to speak to an experienced Couples & Relationship Counsellor during this time of unprecedented stress and pressure on family on family life, Contact 01 531 3331. 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. Calls charged at local rate
Funerals
While baptisms and weddings are suspended at this time, funerals are still permitted, provided the strict guidelines pertaining to social distancing are observed.
Trócaire
Trócaire are appealing for any outstanding Lenten boxes to be returned by next week. They have taken a huge hit in raising funds and there’s pressure on them to still provide services.
If you have a Trócaire Box, please return it to the parish house in Kilmanagh. If I’m not there you can leave your box in the plastic crate-box at the front door.
Cash for Trócaire can be left in my letter box, but please make it Trócaire.
Parish Envelopes
These can be left in my letterbox in Kilmanagh. The door is wiped clean everyday so there’s no fear of catching the ‘rona’.
Helpline
Kilkenny Co. Council helpline for services for services such as delivery of food, medicines, or transport for essential trips. Telephone 1 800 500 000
Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the hour of conflict. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God restrain him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast Satan down to hell, and with him all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Facebook
The parish has set up a Facebook page
www.facebook.com/ballycallan.parish
We post pictures of the parish, as well as events and items of interest.
We are looking for old pictures of the parish to share with others. If you think you might have some, particularly relating to the churches, get in touch.