As this dreadful pandemic sweeps the land, our NHS front-liners are giving their all to tend to us. Their heroic action reminds me of another hero, a young aristocrat from Turin, born in 1901: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Charismatic, with film-star looks, he loved skiing, horse-riding and above all climbing mountains. The life and soul of the party, Pier Giorgio was a man of deep faith who spent his evenings visiting the sick and homeless. Serving in the slums of Turin, he caught polio and after a short, painful illness, died, aged just 24. At his funeral, to his family’s amazement, crowds of his beloved poor filled the streets to give thanks for his life, a life of love in action.
This Holy Week and Easter will be one we will never forget. Normally, our Cathedral here in Portsmouth would be full, but this year we will celebrate Easter online in an empty church. The Devil seeks to isolate us, yet we are united in prayer, prayer for a speedy end to this scourge. We also commend to God’s mercy the sick, the elderly and vulnerable, those in self-isolation, those suffering anxiety and loneliness, the NHS medical staff and those who have died.
In the midst of it all, God is offering us many graces. He invites us to contribute to the common good, to care for the sick and to live charity, love in action. Where the Eucharist cannot be received, He invites us to renew our thirst for Christ as we approach the Easter Triduum.