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Given on the Day of Reflection and Prayer marking the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown, on 23rd March 2021 at Westminster Cathedral

Today we reflect and today we pray. Reflection and prayer, for us, go hand in hand. As we reflect, we realise that the memories we have, the hurt in our hearts is what we bring to the Lord in prayer. And when we pray, we cast a new light on our reflections, on our memories, sensing in them and their fabric the presence of God.

I thank you for the witness that you give today, coming to the cathedral to pray, and to those at home, for spending this time in prayer on this day of reflection. We see in newspapers, in broadcasts, that it’s quite difficult in our public culture to speak about prayer, even today; but there are photographs of churches, cathedrals, the way in which we’re marking this as a day of prayer. Coming to pray is a key witness that we can give, reminding everyone that life is not contained within the boundaries of this world, but is lived with a horizon of the eternal.

It is very pleasing to know that, not only our Christian brothers and sisters, but also especially our Muslim brothers and sisters today ask that this be a day of prayer. Today we think especially of those who have died. For a person of no faith at all, they are rather struck dumb at the graveside, being able to express only loss and sadness. For those of faith, the darkness of death is not the whole story, but is transformed with the light of Christ to a new beginning. So we pray today especially for those in whose hearts death is a total and dark ending. We pray for those who have died, for those who mourn, that the light of Christ will touch them.

This evening, if, as we’re asked, you take a light to your porch at 8pm, let it in your hearts be very clear that this light we shine is the light of Christ, who will always be with us, always walk with us and always lead us into the presence of his Father. Amen