“Small gestures of practical kindness are just as important as the vital major decisions” – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

03 Apr 2020


“Like all those over 70, I find myself in isolation at home. For me as someone who is active by nature it is inconvenient. It is however nothing compared with the hardship experienced by so many others in the current situation. I think of the seriously ill. I think of the bereaved who return into isolation after a burial. I think of families experiencing uncertainty about their financial situation. I think of families who have loved ones with special needs. I think of families with young children confined in tight space and concerned about the health of their children. I think of the fear and the anxiety the elderly and the lonely. We tend to forget that there are many elderly in our communities who may have no close relative. We have to seek out and reach out to such people.

Over these days, I have been calling people on the telephone to ask how they are. The remarkable thing is that so many of them reply that they are all right because neighbours and friends have been helpful and keep in touch. Good neighbourliness is a trademark of Irish families and it is moving to see how they are responding in the current situation. Young people have been great.

These small gestures of practical kindness are just as important as the vital major decisions. We owe a great deal to those who bear the responsibility of leadership at this moment, especially in the front line. I think of the public health authorities, of doctors, nurses and carers and indeed our government leadership.

Over these days, I have been trying to reach out to parishes to provide them with practical advice but above all with prayer resources and encouraging creativity in reaching out. On-line communication is a great blessing. The Archdiocese of Dublin has over 200 priests over 70 and thus in isolation. This is placing a great strain on those who remain active in ministry. Priests also share in the fears and anxieties of the moment and deserve our support.

Holy Week is central to the life of the Church. Like many priests, this will be the first time in my entire ministry that I have to participate from home. I share in the sadness not just of priests but of most Catholics who experience the same void in their spirituality.

Holy Week is not just about ceremonies. The ceremonies are there to draw us into the most essential dimension of our belief in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. Holy Week is about a Jesus who emptied himself out of love for us. His total self-giving opened for all of humanity new life and resurrection. Holy Week is at the root of our Christian hope.

Christian hope reminds us that, even in moments of darkness, evil will be overcome by goodness and death is not the final word.

Even in the current situation where the Holy Week liturgies will be celebrated behind closed doors, we can find in our hearts ways to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection and draw from that mystery the strength to allow goodness to triumph in our lives.” END

3RD April 2020

· This message was recorded at Archbishop’s House to mark the start of Holy Week and circulated to all priests and parishes in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

· The recording is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaj571VqYxA

· www.dublindiocese.ie