Viewpoint: Angels in our midst

  • Anne O'Connor

Giotto Flight into Egypt: WikiArt

Giotto Flight into Egypt: WikiArt

On Friday evening my husband and I went to the last Mass in our parish for the next weeks, perhaps months. It was a bittersweet occasion which brought to mind all those who have been deprived of the Eucharist over the centuries due to religious persecution or even nowadays in remote parts of the world where vast distances mean Mass may be celebrated infrequently. A stark reminder of what we often take for granted, especially here in the North West of England where there are several Catholic Churches within a few miles' radius.

That same afternoon a flyer popped through our door offering help if we were isolated, elderly or lonely. We are not, but I was incredibly touched by the kindness of the two strangers who gave their phone numbers to contact should we need them. I texted to thank them for their care and concern.

I was reminded of Dorothy Day, co-founder in 1933 of the Catholic Worker movement to minister to the poor in the United States - a movement that exists in the US to this day with a thriving community house in London too.

Inspired by Daniel 3: 28 "He has sent his angel to rescue his servants," Dorothy said, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

This unexpected act of kindness from strangers moved me to share the news with prayer friends in our WhatsApp group. It turns out they have had similar leaflets in neighbouring towns.

In the face of disaster, uncertainty and, for some despair, there is charity, unconditional love and hope. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this initiative carried on once life gets back to normality - communities pulling together and looking out for the most vulnerable in their midst. Scrolling through the link my 'angels' sent me, the local help group had offers of shopping, gardening, dog walking and students whose courses were now cancelled who wanted to help with children off school - so many different people volunteering for one or two streets' worth of help.

Yesterday I discovered a host of angels in my community and now I know their names.

Tags: Coronavirus, COVID19, Anne O'Connor

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