Over the years, during Lent I have tried, unsuccessfully, to give up a number of indulgencies – chocolate, alcohol, cakes, the list goes on. I never thought I would be forced to give up going to Mass! Although, there are some very good live feeds; as a family we have been to both Portsmouth and Plymouth Cathedrals in recent days. In the current climate it is the next best thing.
Mass gatherings (no pun intended) are part of human behaviour, which is often puzzling. One of my pastimes is people watching. My midnight observations at ASDA saw people unloading shelves quicker than they could be stacked. I am sure behavioural psychologists have a term for this.
As time passes it becomes increasingly clear that any of us could wake up with a cough or temperature, automatically obliging us to hunker up in isolation for two weeks. Facing the real possibility of this without preparation is a daunting thought. For anyone who lives alone, this must be quite simply a terrifying idea, that could explain some, but not all, of the hoarding behaviours that we have all observed.
We have a responsibility to look after those vulnerable members of our communities who are in a very difficult position. Living in a society where movement is restricted is a balancing act. Looking out for those in social isolation, total or in part is an act of love for your neighbour, particularly for the most fragile members of the community.
The Church may have had to cancel Mass but this does not mean that Lent is on hold. Perhaps the act of love that comes from the withdrawal of some of our ‘liberties’ can now become part of our Lenten offering.