There may be particular pain experienced that people can't gather as the church in their old familiar place.
However, the life and work of prayer and worship continues, and we can take this opportunity at home to redsicover afresh a personal prayer life, and what it means to be praying with and as the church wherever we are.
We're unable to gather for worship during Holy Week, but the following resources will hopefuly help in the days to come.
Through this and other resources we hope that Holy Week will be an opportunity for 'domestic bliss' as we celebrate these days within our own familiar place, and know God’s Blessings whereever we are!
Though distanced from the Eucharist - because of our circumstances we can still receive all the spiritual benefits.
"If a person desires to receive the Sacrament" says the Church in Wales, "and is faithful and penitent but by reason of extreme sickness or physical disability is unable to eat and drink the Bread and Wine, the Priest is to assure that person that all the benefits of Communion are received." Here are prayers for use at home to make a Spiritual Communion
Each day at 12 noon and 6 pm, the bells of St Mary's ring out the Angelus: three sets of three single chimes, followed by nine single chimes.
The bells also ring out at other times during the day and have proved to offer a great connection betwen the church and those within the local community who are at home and in earshot of the chimes.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham may be 250 miles away, but it's close to the heart of many in our parish!
Part of the daily prayer of the Shrine is Shrine Prayers when the rosary is prayed and various intentions offered. Eventhough the shrine is closed to visitors, the life of prayer continues there and Shrine Prayers are live streamed on Facebook at 6pm each day.
There is an ever deeper sadness at present when many people are unable to attend the funeral of a loved one.
As we follow government guidance on funerals, the prayer resources here are designed to help people to pray for and remember their loved ones at home.
Text copyright Dean Atkins / Parish of Cardiff St Mary the Virgin unless otherwise stated
Life, for a while, is very different. So much of what we took for granted has been removed from us as we learn how to live in a new way. For many, this will create great challenge. Whilst we may feel the pain of not being able to gather with our Christian brothers and sisters to worship together and receive the sacraments, we have the opportunity to discover afresh what it means to be a Christian wherever we happen to be. In the Holy Scriptures and the story of our Salvation, there are many incidents 'at home' - beautiful moments when humanity encounters the divine - for God, in Christ, has come to make his home with us. And so, for a while, we offer this alternative HOME PAGE - or rather AT HOME PAGE as we discover the beauty of being quite at home with God, and seeking his guidance and grace to deal with a new world, a different world.
This AT HOME page is still being developed so please do return regularly for new updates, links and resources!
A traditional devotion for Lent - and Good Friday in particular - is the Stations of the Cross.
Remembering that the original Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem are not in churches at all but along the streets, reminds us that the Stations can happen anywhere and we don't need a priest to lead them.
As Jesus ascended into heaven, he instructed his disciples to Stay in Jerusalem, to wait for fulfilment of the promise made the Father.
As Mary and the Apostles remaimed in that upper room, dedicating themselves to prayer, so we are called to pray for intensely and more intently during these days.
The Prayer of the Church consists of various times of prayer through the day - hinged around Morning and Evening Prayer.
Whilst priests are obliged to say these 'offices' each day many Lay people also love this discipline and momentum of prayer and you can find some simply 'Daily Offices' (as they are called) here.
There are many online prayer resources available, and one that we find particularly useful is Universalis. It contains all the readings used at Mass each day and on Sundays, as well as the full text for all the Daily Offices, including Morning and Evening Prayer. It can be accessed online, and there is also an App available for your smartphone. www.universalis.com
How sad it is to not see you. How grim it is that we can’t gather as the church to celebrate these most holy days. And yet, in the midst of difficult situations and as challenging as it is, we are beginning again to really value all that is important to us.
One of the things that I have rediscovered fresh is the need to have structure to my day. I still set my alarm to wake, and with a different kind of day ahead of me, I have reset the timetable of what I have to do—and there is so much time available to attend to things: to savour that book, that telephone conversation, that time of quiet, that moment of prayer, those birds busying themselves with building a nest in the eaves of my home, the sound of the church bells, the dandelions bringing gold to the garden.
The momentum of prayer has been important. It is lonely, of course, slipping into church alone for prayer, offering the Mass alone—at times, there feels a great chasm—and yet, more than ever, I am conscious that, whenever prayer and Mass is offered, we do so united in Christ and with the great host of Heaven, unseen but known, and in union with Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world.
We can fixate too much on what we can’t do and fail to overlook the opportunities before us: to make of our home a place of holiness, an encounter with God who has come to live among us.
In these pages, you will find some material for the days to come, especially Holy Week and Easter as an opportunity for domestic bliss, to celebrate these days within your own familiar place, and to know God’s Blessings where you are—for where you are, he is.
Let prayer flow freely within the walls of your home, let God’s love linger in the lounge, and the divine presence glow across your table and fill your meal times as though Manna has dropped from the heavens. These are strange times but they can also be grace filled times, a time to draw close to the Lord who during these days laid down his life for the whole world.
Your priest and friend
The Dock of the Bay is the blog of Fr Dean Atkins, Priest in Charge of the Parish of Cardiff St Mary the Virgin and through the next few weeks we'll offer regular thoughts and reflections