The approaching season of Lent is described as a joyful season. Despite the difficulties and restrictions we face, Lent gives us an opportunity to rediscover who we are and the life-giving message of the Good News.
Unfortunately this year we are unable to mark Ash Wednesday in the traditional way. It is in solidarity with one another and with all our neighbours that we must continue to strictly adhere to social distancing, hand sanitising and the wearing of face coverings. The threat of Covid-19 remains stubbornly present in our communities, this year Ashes should not be distributed in the traditional way either within or outside our parish churches as this would involve people congregating and possibly breaching the social distancing rule.
While our churches remain closed for public worship in solidarity with one another and with wider society, our churches ought to be open offering time for private prayer. I encourage you to be creative in finding new ways of reaching out to all who seek consolation and strength at this time. I am heartened to hear some of the innovative ways parishes and groupings are working together in preparation for Ash Wednesday and Lent such as with online daily Mass, evening reflections, Lenten talks, reconciliation services and times to come together for prayer and spiritual nourishment.
Parish webcams and online resources have made it possible to accompany one another as we seek to grow in faith, hope and love. While this will be a different Lent, it still holds out the opportunity for each one of us to grow in Love of the Lord and of one another.
With prayerful good wishes,
+ Dermot Farrell
Archbishop of Dublin
Friday 12th February 2021