Bishop Alan Hopes said: “All Catholics are being asked to hold this day as a day of prayer. We are asked to open our churches and to encourage our people to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the many needs, hopes and sorrows that have emerged over the past year. This will be our particular contribution to this important day for National Reflection.”
The Parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Kings Lynn was opened for prayer all day and there was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 7 – 8pm with lighting of candles at 8pm which were placed on the church porch step to mark the vigil of light.
Tuesday 23 March, the anniversary of the first national lockdown, was marked with a minute’s silence at midday. At 8pm, people were encouraged to create a ‘beacon of remembrance’ on their doorsteps by beaming phones, candles and torches into the night sky. Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK.
Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon, as President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference, stress that prayer is an essential part of this reflection and remembrance:
“Without prayer we live in a foreshortened world and are more easily swamped by its clamour and tragedy,” they write. “Throughout this difficult year, so many have been inspired by prayer, so much effort sustained in prayer, in every place.”
They invite Catholics to reflect “in sorrow on all those who have died, whether family members, friends or those unknown to us personally…with compassion on all those who have suffered during this last year, whether through illness, stress, financial disaster or family tensions…with thanksgiving for the generosity, inventiveness, self-sacrifice and determination shown by so many in this most difficult of times.”
March 2020 was the first time churches had to be closed. “It is our hope that on this day, every one of our churches will be open,” they continue. “We invite everyone to enter a church on this day, to reflect and pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
“We know this will involve an extra effort, but this can be part of our important contribution to a significant moment in the life of our country. Indeed, we ask that you might invite a friend, neighbour or colleague to come to church with you as you make this visit.”
Pictured above is Fr Leo Michael with the Blessed Sacrament at St John’s Cathedral