As the UK prepares to mark the anniversary of its first Covid-19 lockdown, Catholics have been urged to make the day one of prayer, as well as reflection.
Tuesday 23rd March will be marked with a minute’s silence at midday and, at 8pm, people are encouraged to create a ‘beacon of remembrance’ on their doorsteps by beaming phones, candles and torches into the sky.
Prominent buildings and landmarks will also be lit up across the UK, as part of a National Day of Reflection.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon stressed 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,” they said. “Prayer completes reflection. Reflection informs prayer. Prayer opens our life to its true horizon. Without prayer we live in a foreshortened world and are more easily swamped by its clamour and tragedy,” they explained.
“Throughout this difficult year, so many have been inspired by prayer, so much effort sustained in prayer, in every place. So let us make the 23rd March truly a day of prayer.”
Spearheaded by Marie Curie, over 110 organisations have backed the National Day of Reflection, which is also backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales.
“This has been an incredibly difficult year for our country,” said Mr Johnson. “My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and who have not been able to pay tribute to them in the way they would have wanted. ” He said he would observe the minute’s silence at noon privately.
Mr Johnson announced the first national stay-at-home order on 23rd March 2020, days after warning many families would “lose loved ones before their time”.
The total number of recorded deaths linked to Covid-19 in the UK stood at 335 on that date. There have now been more than 140,000 deaths.
Picture: A lady prays in Westminster Cathedral. (© Mazur/cbcew.org.uk).