In this time when there are huge changes to our lifestyle being asked of us, one of the biggest shocks for many, myself included, has been the cancellation of public Masses and religious gatherings. Being a Catholic, attending Sunday Mass has been one of the constants of my week ever since I was born. So watching Mass from the comfort of my sofa last Sunday was a fairly bizarre and somewhat novel experience.
Despite the novelty, there is a real sense of pain for the many for whom religious gatherings are an integral part of daily life. At JRS, we have many wonderful staff and volunteers who are professed religious, as well as those who are used to practicing their faith. Like many, we are thinking of creative ways we can remain united in prayer throughout this challenging time.
These past couple of weeks, staff and volunteers have started gathering on a video call each morning to join together in prayer. Using a version of the Church’s Morning Prayer is allowing us to feel closer, not only with each other, but to the continued life of the Church which goes on, even if we cannot gather physically in our usual meeting places. Personally, I have found this a real source of hope and a fuel to sustain me as I join with my colleagues to keep supporting our refugee friends through this challenging period.
We are also working to find some way of connecting those refugee friends who take part in our regular prayer groups, allowing them to keep holding one another up in prayer. Faith is an integral part of many of our friends’ lives, something which was shown very clearly and movingly in the report that JRS released last year, “For our welfare and not for our harm”.
As with other organisations, we are thinking of the different resources and methods we can use to join together in prayer during this period of social distancing. We already have our Lenten reflections and Stations of the Cross which I hope many of you will have already found fruitful. We will have reflections for the Easter Triduum and we hope to update you soon about some new resources that you will be able to access.
In the meantime, I ask that you join with us wherever you are to pray for our refugee friends and for one another as we do all that we can to keep safe.
Join us in a weekly prayer throughout the season of Lent, and during Holy Week by signing up to our weekly Lenten Reflections. Download this resource and accompany Akbar, our refugee friend, through his testimony of destitution at the hands of the UK asylum system.
If you volunteer with JRS UK and would like to join Nick and others in our morning prayer video call, please get in touch.