On 27th March the Irish government introduced a lockdown throughout the country. In response to the Covid-19 crisis and this strict period of quarantine at home, our Abbess Mother Marie Fahy posted a letter to family, friends and neighbours on facebook to convey to people that they are very much in the intense prayer of the community at this time. She likened the self-isolation and social distancing required by governments around the world in an effort to control the spread of the virus to the monastic enclosure that monks and nuns voluntarily commit themselves to alone or in community for a whole lifetime. In the light of our experience she suggested that we may have some useful tips to offer. The post was shared many times on social media. We reproduce her letter here below for our website visitors:
Dear Family, Friends and Neighbours:
Here in Glencairn we are united in prayer with all of you, asking the Lord to shield you and protect you under His wings. We are confident that the Lord in his infinite mercy will not delay in answering us and will drive away this dreadful virus. May our efforts to control the spread be blessed and successful.
All of us now are in some kind of isolation, a kind of imposed enclosure. Maybe those of us who live monastic life and enclosure might be able to offer a few tips to help you survive these challenging weeks. Just a few ideas:
Keep a strong daily structure: getting up and going to bed at the same time each day; taking your meals around the same time each day
In between those fixed times do other things more or less at the same time each day: cleaning and cooking; a bit of outdoor work, even cleaning windows can be outdoor; time for communication, emails, phone calls, texts, contact different people each day;
Do something purposeful each day, de-cluttering some wardrobe or drawer, putting old photos in albums, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, keep a journal; something that will give you a sense of achievement at the end of the day
If you are a person of faith pencil in some times for prayer throughout the day, maybe a Hail Mary or some of the lovely prayers we know by heart from the Mass, e.g. the Gloria, the Creed, Our Father, Lamb of God. Read a psalm or a story from the Gospels. Pray the Rosary. Have a fixed time for this. Here in the monastery we have to drop everything when the bell goes for prayer!
Do a bit of reading – all those books that you never have had time to read.
Join us in keeping up a constant and trusting prayer for all our medical and health care workers and for all humanity
One of the psalms which we pray at night prayer each day is Psalm 90:
Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High
and abide in the shade of the Almighty
say to the Lord: ‘My refuge,
my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’
It is he who will free you from the snare
of the fowler who seeks to destroy you;
he will conceal you with his pinions
and under his wings you will find refuge.
You will not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness
nor the scourge that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand fall at your right,
you, it will never approach;
his faithfulness is buckler and shield.
– Abbess Marie Fahy, Glencairn