We welcome the designation of Tuesday 23 March as a National Day of Reflection to mark the anniversary of the first national lockdown with a minute’s silence at midday and doorstep vigils of light at 8pm.

We ask you all to make this not only a Day of Reflection but also a Day of Prayer. In reflection we ponder on all that has taken place; in prayer we bring this to our Heavenly Father. For all who live by faith in God, reflection and prayer always go hand in hand.

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. 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.

March 2020 was the first time our churches had to be closed. It is our hope that on this day, every one of our churches will be open. We invite everyone to enter a church on this day, to reflect and pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. We know this will involve an extra effort, but this can be part of our important contribution to a significant moment in the life of our country. Indeed, we ask that you might invite a friend, neighbour or colleague to come to church with you as you make this visit.

There is so much on which to reflect and include in our prayer. We reflect in sorrow on all those who have died, whether family members, friends or those unknown to us personally. We pray for them, asking our Father to welcome them into their heavenly home, the destiny for which God first gave us the gift of life. We reflect with compassion on all those who have suffered during this last year, whether through illness, stress, financial disaster or family tensions. We pray for their ongoing resilience, courage and capacity to forgive.

We reflect with thanksgiving for the generosity, inventiveness, self-sacrifice and determination shown by so many in this most difficult of times. We pray for them, thanking God for their gifts and dedication, whether they are scientists, politicians, health workers, public servants of every kind, community leaders or steadfast family members and friends who continue to show such love and compassion.

We reflect in hope that, as the pandemic is controlled and we open up our lives again, we will gather in the lessons we have learned and build our society into a better shape, more compassionate, less marked by inequalities, more responsive to needs and deprivation. We ask for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in this endeavour, whether we are focussing on overcoming family breakdowns, economic recovery, or building political consensus.

Christian prayer is, of course, centred on Jesus Christ, the one who is “lifted up” before us “so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3.13). We pray with Jesus, in him and through him, for he is the one who carries us, and our prayers,
into the embracing presence of his Father. He is our comfort in sorrow, our strength in the face of need, our rejoicing in the gifts we celebrate and our hope in the face of the weighty darkness of death.

May Tuesday 23rd March be a great day of prayer that this pandemic comes to an end and that the gift of God’s Holy Spirit will carry us all forward to a new and better life, both here and in the world to come.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols


Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP


Diocesan Prayer

Day of Prayer and Remembrance one year into the Covid-19 Pandemic

Holy Trinity,
Fount of Knowledge, Wisdom and Love,

We come before you on this day of prayer,
following a year in which there seem to have been more questions than answers.

We stand before the mysteries of life and death, of sickness and healing.
Silence is sometimes the first and only response.

As we reflect on a year that has brought real suffering and struggle to many, we remember every earthly life that has ended either as a result of or during this pandemic. Every life is precious in your sight.

We pray for all of our brothers and sisters who have known the loss of jobs and livelihoods, of purpose and dignity. We pray for all of our friends and relatives and for all those who continue to carry sickness. We ask you to accompany them through times of darkness into the emerging dawn.

In the midst of all that has appeared wrong, we know too that there have been unexpected blessings over the past year, and for those we are grateful: a greater appreciation of family and friends, a greater need to build community and strengthen ties of fraternity; a recognition of the selfless goodness in people who often do not have much to give themselves.

We have had time.

At this moment, Lord God, enlighten and enliven your people who look to you for guidance and strength. May we continue, with your grace, to make the right decisions for ourselves and for others.

May our eagerness to put the past year behind us also be an eagerness to embrace new ways of living, generous ways of acting and a renewed dedication to you. If the past year has taught us one thing, it is that we are not in control of our destiny and we submit to that reality.

You, Father, Son and Spirit, together with the angels and saints of heaven:

Intercede for your people now, as the prophets and apostles interceded for the people of their day.

May we face the challenges of each day welcoming the gift of life each day, and live as best we can with a heart filled with gratitude for that gift.

You are alive and reign in heaven and on earth for ever and ever. Amen.

University of Warwick

Deacon David Palmer, university Chaplain, leads a reflection.

Join the reflection here