Fr. Ray Collier, who resides at St. Columban's in Solihull, reflects on how the ongoing pandemic continues to highlight for him, our need, as Pope Francis puts it; 'to restore the dignity of our peoples, to recover our memory and to remember our roots.'  

The ongoing pandemic exposes many hidden truths about humanity, like the hidden truth about poverty, migration, trafficking of people and authentic politics.

As Pope Francis says, “You can’t know poverty from a distance, you have to touch it.” I think, many people have touched poverty while reaching out to their vulnerable neighbours during these times and in doing so, have experienced a renewal of their humanity and hope.  It has also opened people up to the need of structural reforms and of authentic politics; that there can’t be a going back. Again, as Pope Francis says, in his recently published ‘Let Us Dream’, “Only politics rooted in the people, open to people’s own organisation, will be able to change our future.”

 In regard to migration and trafficking of people, let me again quote Pope Francis from ‘Let Us Dream’, “Lockdown opened our eyes to a reality that is so often hidden: the basic needs of the most developed societies are being met by poorly paid migrants, yet they are scapegoated and denigrated, and denied the right to safe and decent work. Migration is a global issue. No one should be obliged to flee their country. But the wrong is doubled when the migrant is forced into the hands of people traffickers in order to cross borders; and tripled when they reach the land they thought would give them a better future, only to find themselves despised, exploited, abandoned or enslaved. We need to welcome, promote, protect, and integrate those who come in search of better lives for themselves and their families.”

Besides these issues there are others, like inequality, racism, climate change, unemployment, debt, drug addiction, populist politicians, social media, truth and the common good, which are no less crucial today. The economy is as sick as the planet. Maybe during this time of Lent, we can sit in silent reflective listening, waiting for the gentle whisper of our Creator, as we reflect on the words of Isaiah 58: 6-7, which says, “see the fast that pleases me: to break the fetters of injustice and unfasten the throngs of the yoke, and set the oppressed free and break every yoke. Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your house the unsheltered needy, clothe the person you see naked.”

During the pandemic many have lived the fast that pleases the Lord and in doing so have renewed their hope in humanity. May this Lent be a time of drawing ever more together in dialogue and solidarity, as we seek together to build a culture of partnership, to break the fetters of injustice that dehumanise humanity, set the oppressed free and break every yoke while sharing our food and offering shelter and clothing to the needy. In this way may it restore our dignity as God’s people, recover the memory of ourselves and enable us to remember our roots and change our future.


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Find out more about Fr. Raymond Collier and how he came to be a member of the Columbans.

Fr. Ray Collier