As we enter a second lockdown in England amid a second wave of Covid-19, Bishop Paul Mason, lead bishop for Healthcare and Mental Health has said:
‘We are surrounded by people who are going the extra mile during the Covid-19 pandemic to save and protect lives all over the country, and I’d like to invite Catholics across England and Wales to participate in Cardinal Nichols’ call to daily prayer at 6pm by offering thanks and prayers for these workers and their service.
‘We particularly call to mind those who are continuing to work with dedication, sacrifice and commitment to keep us safe during the Covid-19 pandemic: Healthcare workers on the front line tirelessly ensuring that patients receive the best possible care for Covid-19 and other illnesses, and staff in care homes protecting the vulnerable elderly. As well as those on the front line, we must not lose sight of others who quietly continue to carry out essential work behind the scenes which keeps the whole system running.
‘We give thanks also for the learnings of the first wave of Covid-19, including the increased availability of PPE which should lessen the risks to which those on the front line are exposed. However, protecting physical health is just a first step, and we ought to strive to serve the mental health needs of these workers with similar devotion. The importance of self-care cannot be over-estimated, and I urge anyone who feels vulnerable or in need to reach out to the many excellent services available.
‘However, we can all play a part when it comes to looking out for the mental health and wellbeing of the people who usually care for us. In his recently published encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis says:
“Let us look to the example of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ parable summons us to rediscover our vocation as citizens of our respective nations and of the entire world, builders of a new social bond. This summons is ever new, yet it is grounded in a fundamental law of our being: we are called to direct society to the pursuit of the common good … By his actions, the Good Samaritan showed that “the existence of each and every individual is deeply tied to that of others: life is not simply time that passes; life is a time for interactions”.” (Fratelli Tutti, 66)
‘Our collective health and wellbeing may never have been so challenged as now. It is at such times of crisis that we are especially called to be kind, to extend the hand of friendship, and to embrace life as a time for meaningful interactions with our fellow men and women. Prayerful solidarity with those who are working through this pandemic, especially in the healthcare and care sectors, can be turned into positive action when coupled with something as simple as a phone call or email to ask how someone is feeling or if they need anything.
‘So, amid the challenges which a lockdown inevitably presents, let us also pray for the grace to see it as an opportunity to grow in love and care not just for ourselves and our families, but for all those around us, to whom we are inextricably linked through our shared pursuit of the common good.’