With Churches Closed Due to COVID, Priest Celebrates Easter Sunday Mass on Ancient Rock
Amid lockdown, a priest in Ireland celebrates the greatest feast day at an ancient site where Catholics have gone to worship in hiding.
As Mass restrictions continue across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic, many parts of the world still have churches shuttered. With parishes locked in the United Kingdom, a lone priest in Ireland set out to celebrate Easter Sunday Mass on an ancient rock upon a crag overlooking the sea that was once used during another era when Catholics had to practice their faith in secrecy.
Fr. Gerard Quirke celebrated Easter Sunday Mass at dawn from Keem Bay, Achill Island, an ancient site upon a cliff in Ireland. According to Father Quirke and as reported in the Irish Times, the site was used "during the era of penal laws when Catholics endured restrictions on their civil liberties."
In Father's Quirke's homily, he spoke about the importance of the Easter feast day and why it must be celebrated:
"The reason why we gather on this day, why this day is so important, more important than all the other Christian feasts of our year, is because no matter what Jesus did in his life, his birth, his life, his miracles, his healings, his teachings, all that would mean nothing, if he hadn't on this day, risen from the dead. No other God ever claimed he would rise from the dead. Jesus proclaimed that Gospel and he did so because he was the true God."
The priest began Mass at dawn on Easter and touched on the significance of the location and the history of persecution the Emerald Isle has faced.
"We gather at this ancient site, this ancient beautiful location, where Christianity, I'm sure, first began in these isles. Our ancestors would've come here to pray listening to the words of the great disciple St. Patrick, and those that followed him, right up to when our Church was persecuted, and the people had to come here to celebrate the Mass in secret and in hiding. We come today like that."
However Father Quirke reminds us that Jesus himself is not confined to locked doors or any limitation, and he is indeed, risen.
"The tomb that Jesus was in was closed. Our churches are closed. But Christ, as we know, is not bound by tombs or doors, or stones rolled in. When Mary came to that tomb, she found that the tomb was empty. He had risen. And it was the angel who rolled back that stone."
Father also offers these inspiring words reminding us that the gift Christ has given us can reach us despite our confined spaces.
"Jesus is not bound by stones or doors, it is us that are bound by that. And while we wait in hope for the blessed day when we can come back to the churches again to experience Christ, we pray on this day, this glorious day, that he reaches out and goes through the doors of the churches and the doors of your homes, to remain with you and be with you, to bless you, and to give you that glorious spirit, that glorious fire, that he gave to his apostles on the day of Pentecost, that you may sing the praises of God on the day our churches are open."
May God bless Father Quirke, the Emerald Isle, and our brothers and sisters who must worship in hiding!