The two years of the Covid pandemic posed all kinds of difficulties for individuals, businesses and institutions, and while the danger days seem to have passed, the ongoing effects are all too in evidence. Many people are suffering the physical effects of what is characterised as long-covid, and by the sounds of it, these are anything but pleasant. People report a range of distressing symptoms from respiratory problems to ongoing fatigue to mental confusion they describe as brain fog, and even cardiac complications; not a pleasant legacy.
Many small businesses have gone to the wall and simply never re-opened, and many others are teetering on the brink, trying to cope with reduced customer numbers. Into this already deadly mix we now need to factor in, the ever-spiralling rate of inflation, with rapidly increasing energy costs and the stranglehold they impose. Change can be seen in the many restaurants that flourished in the past that now open just a few days in the week and there are many empty tables. Staffing is proving a problem for many businesses as many migrant workers returned home during the pandemic and have not returned.
While not wishing to be political in any partisan sense, it does seem to me as a non-partisan observer, that the budget introduced on Tuesday last, represents an honest attempt to address the issues, and to offer a safety net to those most affected. Like all political responses it does not address every circumstance and undoubtedly some are feeling hard done by. In a world of limited resources choices can be hard and difficult and will never please all.
So much has changed after Covid and the churches have not been immune. In the Lucan parishes, congregations have not returned to pre-covid levels. At a guesstimate I would put the attendance level at about 70% of what it used to be. Online Mass became the norm during the past two years and the habit/custom of Mass attendance disappeared from the way of life of many. The vulnerable elderly members of the congregation perhaps are still a little nervous of coming into close contact with large numbers in an enclosed space, although we do still offer hand sanitizers and urge the use of face masks.
It seems unlikely that things will go back to where we were. Covid may have passed but itís effects, in all kinds of ways, will be with us for many a long day.
St. Maryís / St. Patrickís Lucan