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Yesterday, the United Kingdom held a national ‘Day of Reflection’ in memory of all those who have died so far because of the COVID19 pandemic – yesterday was the first anniversary of the UK going into full lockdown. At noon, the nation stopped for one minute in memory all those lost. And in the evening, expressing the same sentiments, many homes lit candles and placed them in windows and on doorsteps.

It was a moment for the nations to pause and to take stock of the events of the last year – and in particular, to think of the more than 126,000 people who have died here in the UK so far. Thankfully, the numbers of hospitalisations and deaths are falling at the moment – but this oast year has taught us never to be complacent, as things can change very quickly.

In some senses, this Day of Reflection was not so dissimilar to the period of Lent during which the Day occurred.

For Catholics, Lent is an extended period of reflection; we look back in order to see more clearly where we have come from, to determine where we presently are, and to decide where we would like to be – and how to reach that point. Both events – Lent and the Day of Reflection – are also a moment when we should stop and give thanks for so many blessings, even in the midst of such loss and grief.. in fact, especially in the midst of all that has happened.

I note with thankfulness that throughout this past year, the Lord has been particularly generous with His divine grace and with His divine mercy. Over and over, I have seen that grace at work in human hearts – people who would consider themselves to be ‘ordinary’ and yet who are extraordinary in their own ways. Such people are numerous – they are everywhere, if only you will notice them. They are the ones who think of others before self; who give rather than take; who serve rather than demand; and for whom responsibility takes precedence over personal rights. You, reading this, will certainly be able to identify many such souls from this brief description of them.

Perhaps in this moment of reflection, it is a good time to stop, to notice and to be grateful.

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