During this period of hardship and strife, more and more people are turning to God and religion as an anchor, according to the Parish Priest of Dunfanaghy, Fr Martin Doohan.
This coming week marks the beginning of Lent, a period where people strive to give up something in order to feel closer to God.
During this time, Fr. Doohan will say Mass at 7am every morning for the people of his parish.
“Lent is a period of time that God has given us to reflect on our lives and where they are going and realise that there is more to life than everyday life,” he said.
The popular priest enjoys this period of the year. He rises in the early morning and walks into his beautiful church as the bird sings in the trees and silence surround him.
“We will be getting up for Mass everyday at 7am. Don’t get me wrong, I like to lie in as much as the next person but this is a discipline and more than that it is a time before the noise of everyday life starts. “You can hear the birds singing in the morning, there is no traffic to be heard and it is a type of awakening. You can also get a whole days work done.
“It is Spiritual as well as the Scripture says: “Seek me early.” It is the begining of the day, a day full of possibilities and dedicating it to God,” he said,
He added that Lent simply allows us to recover once again the primacy of God in our lives.
“During Lent people go off cigarettes, they go off drink and while this is good for the body, you have to remember that it is not just about the body, people sometimes forget that we are more than just a body, we are body and soul,” he said.
He added that during Lent we think of those who are less fortunate than others as Christians and do what we can to help them.
He pointed out that times were different during the boom times and now when things have become harder people have began to rediscover the sense of the Sacred.
“One of the side affects that we are seeing in the aftermath of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ is that people are rediscovering that sense of Sacred. People are discovering that the Church is something of huge value especially now, more so than ever. “People feel it now when we seem to be going from crisis to crisis. As Saint Therese once said: ‘All things are passing, all things are changing, God remains the same’
“People need that anchor in their lives,”
He added that Lent gives us a chance to reflect and to refocus.
“Lent gives us a chance to refocus, reflect and I am always conscious that it is a great time to be alive, to be able to start Lent this year. Who knows who will be here to do it next year? You should feel privileged that you can do it and begin it,” he said.
In his picturesque chapel he has a small auditorium which holds between 34 and 36 people. During his 7am Masses during Lent the number of people, between young and old, who arrive at his church to enjoy Mass dictate that they have to move into the larger building.
“We have a small auditory which holds between 34 and 36 people. We find that we have to go into the main church.
“It was the parents themselves who asked if we could hold it at 7am as it provided them with the opportunity of going home and sending their children to school. It is a nice time of year, when you imitate Christ and his 40 days in the desert.
“We must remember that anything that is of lasting value in this life was never got easy,” he said.