Internet facilitating connection of faith
Thursday 30 April 2020: Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has asked families to consider continuing their reconnection with faith and prayer by ‘giving the Rosary a go’ in May, the traditional month of Marian devotion.
Acknowledging the role the internet is playing in connecting people with their faith and the steady reengagement that it is also facilitating for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Leahy said that the restrictions have highlighted for us all just how much we belong to a family and, for the most part, value our family.
Bishop Leahy said that May is the month traditionally dedicated to Mary, the ‘mother of family’, and asked that the public accepts Pope Francis’ invitation to rediscover the Rosary in the coming month.
Bishop Leahy will be reciting the Rosary in Mt. St. Alphonsus Church, Limerick, tomorrow, May 1st, at 8.00 pm. It will be streamed via the webcam on novena.ie. Pope Francis has also offered two prayers that he’ll be saying along with the Rosary this May and they can be found on line.
“I want to invite everyone, either as a family or individually, to take up the Rosary and to give it a go. A definite positive of us staying at home is that families are praying more and they have the resource of the internet to help them, including with the Rosary this coming month,” he said.
“For all the trials and tribulations of the Coronavirus, it has led to a huge reappreciation of family, not least with parents stepping off the spinning wheel that has generated huge work-life imbalance. I’m hearing so much about parents getting to do things with their children that they haven’t had the opportunity to before and children are really benefitting from this. Parents are benefiting from this.
“I’m hearing of adult children developing a deeper connection with their parents as this mutual need brings us back to some wonderful basics and closer to each other. Mary is the mother of family and she is the Queen of Peace and, with May the traditional month of devotion to her, we have an opportunity to turn to her this month so that families can pray together and pray for peace in their families at this difficult time.”
Bishop Leahy continued: “We remember the famous phrases of the Irishman, Fr. Patrick Peyton, who Pope Francis has declared venerable – ‘the family that prays together stays together’ and ‘a world at prayer is a world at peace’. Perhaps in more cynical times, we smiled a little at these but today people are more open to rediscovering the many different forms of prayer that the Church proposes. Those who are reengaging are enabled by the internet to do so.
“At its most difficult, people are connecting across the internet to pray with loved ones who are dying or offer a prayer moment around a deceased family member. In more positive moments, they are also turning to websites for mass, for prayers. Our own online platforms are getting a level of engagement that even we are surprised with and in numbers beyond what would normally be attending Church.”
Visitors to the St. John’s Cathedral website for streamed midday Masses have increased seven-fold January to April, with 3,267 people watching Mass live from the Cathedral in April, and thousands more engaging with other streamed Masses across the diocese. Limerick Diocese’s website had double the traffic in the month gone by compared to January, while social media following is also close to being double what it was three months ago.
“At a time when we can’t to churches, the home has become our place of prayer thanks to technology. We can make it so with the Rosary this month so I would encourage people to try it, rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary together at home. It might be enough just to start with one decade, that is, an Our Father, ten Hail Marys and one Glory be to the Father,” Bishop Leahy said.
Prayer and the Rosary, Bishop Leahy said, does not always come easy. “Some days it’s easier than others to say the Rosary but, like in all good relationships, you’ve got to work at your friendship with God, with Jesus, with Mary. Saying the Rosary certainly helps you a lot. It’s worth trying and keeping at it!”