The Carmelite Prior Provincial in Britain, Fr. Kevin Alban, O.Carm., wrote on 18th March 2020 ...
On 18th March the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced that we have now reached the point where all public celebrations of religious services have been suspended, as from the evening of Friday 20th March. It is expected that similar restrictions will be announced in Scotland.
A very strong part of Catholic identity is communal worship at Sunday Mass, and many people will find the lack of this very difficult.
The Carmelite Family of friars, sisters, and lay people is continuing to pray for all the people who come to our churches, as well as for the country at large, and all those affected by the pandemic.
There will be further announcements about ways in which we will try to be of service in these difficult times. In the meantime, we are all encouraged to pray.
One of the key elements in Christian spirituality is that there is a relationship, in each one of us, between our very self and God. While the external, communal dimension of faith is important and necessary, nonetheless, each one of us as an individual is called to live a personal relationship with God through prayer. The Carmelite St. Teresa of Avila expresses this most beautifully: “The soul of each one is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.”
The situation we now find ourselves in is without precedent in recent history – even during the Second World War there was Mass! However, our Carmelite tradition offers us support and ways of coping. Here is an occasion to deepen our individual relationship with the Lord.
You may find the following resources helpful in the coming weeks:
- The Shrine of Saint Jude (which the Carmelites serve) will have daily prayer at 2pm
- The Prayer of the Church (the Divine Office) links us across parishes, dioceses, the country, and indeed the world in a union of worship.
- The prayerful reading of Scripture known as Lectio Divina brings us into contact with the living Word of God.
- Reading the prayers and scripture in the Missal for a given day, perhaps combined with the practice of making a spiritual communion.
- The use of specially devised prayers in time of sickness can be a great comfort (download in PDF format).
- The practice of various meditation techniques such as Centering Prayer, or the Practice of the Presence of God.
- Reading the spiritual classics of our tradition: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and so on. Some of their writings can be found at: Christian Classics Ethereal Library; Thérèse Gateway; Story of a Soul.
- Taking part in televised services online. These are happening in various parishes, dioceses, and shrines. Resources include: Vatican News; Church Services TV; Walsingham National Shrine; Knock Shrine; Lourdes Shrine.
- Those with Facebook accounts will find resources there including the Carmelites, Shrine of Saint Jude, and a group set up especially by the Spirituality Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales CCC - Christ, Covid, Community.
- We Carmelites have a number of resources on our social media accounts, including: YouTube; SoundCloud; Instagram; Twitter; Facebook; Flickr.
- Our Carmelite social media pages will keep you up to date, especially about any live-streams from our churches and shrines.
- Other online faith resources are listed by The Tablet.
Let’s pray for one another at this time.
Text: Fr. Kevin Alban, O.Carm.; Dr. Johan Bergström-Allen, T.O.C.