COMMENTS OF ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN AT THE CEREMONY OF THE BLESSING OF SHAMROCK IN DUBLIN’S PRO-CATHEDRAL
17TH March 2020
For generations people have come to this Pro-Cathedral on Saint Patrick’s Day, to remember our National Patron, to pray for our country and its people, and to celebrate what is deepest in our national identity.
The Saint Patrick’s Day Mass in this Pro-Cathedral has always been a day in which many people from overseas came to celebrate with us and proudly to remember their Irish heritage.
Today, Saint Patrick’s Day 2020, is different. We celebrate with a small number of people present, linked by webcam with others. All of us are fearful about the future and many are fearful as they feel increasingly vulnerable.
We are in a difficult situation and one that will not see its end for some time. We are being asked to take very restrictive measures. We are obliged to respond with a sense of personal responsibility and civic duty.
Our sacrifices are overshadowed when we think of the great commitment of our public health services, especially our nurses, doctors, public health officials and carers. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. I thank our priests as they continue to minister to the sick, the troubled and the bereaved. Generosity and creativity are being combined by so many to respond to what is above all a call to solidarity, a call to care for one another.
Many are suffering. I think of the elderly and the vulnerable and especially of those who live alone. I think of parents, in particular lone parents, who have to combine work and the care of children now that schools are closed. I think of families with challenging special needs and of people who were already struggling with illness before the additional fear of this virus emerged. I think of children and students whose studies are being interrupted. I think of the homeless. I think in a very special way of those who wake up now each morning not knowing what will happened to their work and their livelihood.
As I said earlier, on Saint Patrick’s Day we celebrate what is deepest in our national identity. We do not know how long this crisis will endure. Many will feel increasingly troubled and anxious. The antidote to anxiety and pessimism is to show each other the better side of our Irish identity. Reach out to the lonely; all it might need is a phone call. Act responsibly and avoid selfish panic gestures, thinking only of ourselves. Listen to the experts and put aside the alarmists. Scrupulously respect the measures that are proposed.
I would especially like to stress the importance of social distancing, of maintaining the approved distance from each other at all gatherings. Not to do so is utter irresponsibility. Let on-one think that they know better.
We come here this morning to pray. We do not know how long the current situation will last. Other more stringent measures may be called for. The Christian community knows that the Lord has always been faithful with his people. We can have trust in his loving kindness. Our faith and trust in God can give us an added strength to respond with Christian care to the needs and anxieties of others.
Now we come to bless shamrock. We bless Shamrock and in doing so we call blessings down on those who wear it today and on our country and our people. May the Lord protect each of us today and in the months ahead.