As a little boy I recall the kids song “London bridge is falling down”.

Now whatever about London bridge falling down but London city really is shutting down!

Pubs and restaurants are now closing, churches are open with no public services, coffee shops offer only take-out and seems likely that they too will be closed in a few days.

It really is a very strange Saturday and yet it seems that in comparison to other countries we are a bit behind.

On the surface all seems so quiet and peaceful. If an alien came from another planet they would never guess the panic that is going on behind closed doors.

The British government has promised to help businesses and employees financially which will be an enormous relief to many. How effective this will be? Only time will tell!

Public masses have been cancelled which is why I consider myself very blessed to be living in a parish where as a member of the household I will be able to attend the private mass.

Thank you Jesus. For my ministry the eucharist really is the power source and while of course spiritual communion is always an option, it’s still not quite the same.

Many of you will not be able to attend mass today or any other day for a while and I will certainly be thinking and praying for you.

Our cardinal wrote a letter which was read aloud yesterday where he highlighted the importance of the mass, the church’s highest form of prayer and where he encouraged all the faithful to pray and to join in the private masses spiritually.

He also invited us to consider those people who living in different countries find themselves regularly in this situation due to things like wars, shortage of priests etc. and for us to unite with them and by doing so grow to appreciate the mass more and thus come back in greater numbers and with greater zeal when the time comes.

Australia’s first saint, Mary Mckillop was no stranger to this. Helping the poor out in the Australian deserts often she had to go very long times without the sacraments.

In these exceptional circumstances God understands and we must put aside the usual rules of the church regarding attending mass and holy days of obligation.

Pope Francis too is emphasising this. He doesn’t want catholics locked in fear because they committed such and such a sin and now can’t find a priest to hear their confession.

There is enough fear going around without scrupulous catholics adding to it by fearing hell and so Francis is being very explicit and pastoral. Yes, sin is sin, confess it but if you can’t find a priest, confess directly to God and trust!

This really is an opportunity for us to grow in a deeper trust in Jesus and for us to exercise our muscles of faith as our routines get taken away and illness looms.

As usual let’s look to our most humble and beautiful mother who in her own lifetime faced enormous challenges and suffering and who now as queen of heaven has an even better understanding and oversight of what is happening.

Of course we can’t be praying all the time and this period may also be a period to love those with whom we live with even more!

We have all seen those movies where strangers or enemies get stuck in a lift together!

Some have happy endings while others are horror stories!! We decide!

So here we bought a game of monopoly, a table tennis set, Netflix and we’re good to go!

Of course with people not going out and living together there will inevitably be tensions and rows but the mark of true Christians isn’t they don’t make mistakes or lose their tempers but rather how they pick themselves up afterwards and move on gracefully and humbly.

And so yes, for us all doors are closing but let us remember that good old phrase.

“Come Holy Spirit, give me the light and the grace to accept this new period. Open up new doors of prayer, of friendships and of charity. Banish all fear from my heart and through the intercession of Our Lady, fill me deep inner trust and peace”.

Let’s pray for eachother!

Blessings and prayers,

Michael