Bishops ‘strongly encourage’ people to view Christmas Masses online
Christmas Mass can be attended in church between December 24th and January 6th
The Bishops prayed for people who have experienced grief and loss of a loved one during the pandemic. Photograph: iStock
The Catholic Bishops have described it as “impossible” for the usual large numbers to attend Christmas Masses later this month due to Covid-19 and have reminded people that such Masses would be “widely available over webcam”.
They “strongly encourage families to ‘tune in’ from the ‘domestic churches’ of their living rooms and join with those who are gathering in their local churches in welcoming the birth of the Christ-child”.
Christmas was “about more than just one day. Families are welcome to attend Mass at some point during the 12 days from Christmas Eve to Epiphany (January 6th),” they said.
At the conclusion of their winter meeting on Wednesday night, they also reminded Catholics “that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days remains suspended during the pandemic”.
Noting that Christmas preparations were under way in parishes across the island, “ albeit in a very different context this year”, they appealed “to all the faithful to cooperate fully” in this.
Expressing their “sincere gratitude to parish teams throughout the country - including stewards and cleaners – who generously ensure that our churches are safe environments where people can confidently assemble for worship” they said “their task, as Christmas approaches, will not be easy”.
The Bishops also encouraged the faithful “to keep Christ at the centre of Christmas this year” and said that “the age-old tradition of having a Christmas crib in the home and gathering there as a family to pray or to sing a carol will be especially meaningful this year”.
Families or ‘household bubbles’ could visit their local church “at some time during the 12 days to offer a Christmas prayer at the crib and pray together for their families and for those particularly impacted by the pandemic,”they said.
They also pointed out that “charities such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Crosscare, Trócaire and World Missions Ireland will welcome much needed contributions as they have been unable to raise funds in the normal way during the pandemic”.
The Bishops prayed for people who have experienced grief and loss of a loved one during the pandemic and that families who have suffered financial difficulties would receive support.
Conscious of “those whose livelihoods have been seriously threatened by the pandemic”, people “coping with bereavement, families that cannot be together, those in care homes who can only have limited visits from their loved ones” as well as “Irish emigrants and migrants living in Ireland, who are unable to travel home”, they prayed “that the time will come very soon when sorrow will ease and loving connections can be fully restored”.
They were, they said, “acutely aware of the yearning in our country and in our world for hope and consolation”.
Due to the pandemic, and for the third time this year, the Catholic bishops met for their quarterly meeting via video-link, instead of at Maynooth.