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The Bishops of England and Wales are inviting the faithful to pray on 23 March to remember victims of the pandemic. The Bishops of England and Wales are inviting the faithful to pray on 23 March to remember victims of the pandemic.  (AFP or licensors)

Covid-19: Bishops invite prayer on UK Day of Reflection

The Bishops of England and Wales are inviting the faithful to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament on 23 March to remember victims of the pandemic.

Vatican News staff reporter

A year on from the first national lockdown in the UK, a minute’s silence will be observed at 12 noon local time on March 23 to remember all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

That same evening, people are being encouraged to create a “beacon of remembrance” on their doorsteps by beaming phones, candles and torches into the night sky.

Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK.

Over the past year, well over a 120,000 people have died from Coronavirus and there have been more than 4 million confirmed cases of the disease.

Importance of prayer

Ahead of this commemoration, the President and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales are urging the faithful to make the National Day of Reflection on COVID-19 a day of prayer as well as a day of reflection.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool stress that prayer is an essential part of this reflection and remembrance.

“For all who live by faith in God, reflection and prayer always go hand in hand. Prayer completes reflection. Reflection informs prayer. Prayer opens our life to its true horizon.”

The archbishops highlight that March 2020 was the first time churches had to be closed and express the hope that “on this day, every one of our churches will be open.”   

They also invite Catholics to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament on 23 March.

Compassionate reflection

The archbishops ask for prayers for all those who have died, whether family members or friends over the past year, and to reflect with compassion “on all those who have suffered during this last year, whether through illness, stress, financial disaster or family tensions.”

Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon express the hope that, “as the pandemic is controlled and we open up our lives again, we will gather in the lessons we have learned and build our society into a better shape, more compassionate, less marked by inequalities, more responsive to needs and deprivation.”

22 March 2021, 09:57