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Keep Out! by Dr Stuart Reiss

Recently I visited a 100-year-old lady patient of mine at her little flat above a fish and chips shop.

When I let myself in with the key safe, I found her sitting propped up in an armchair, placed at an angle by the window, from the corner of which she had a clear sight of the local Church’s steeple. She explained that she “keeps Jesus company, who is alone and locked up in there”. The usual tacky Catholic paraphernalia, including plastic Lourdes water bottles, and glow-in-the-dark rosary beads, confirmed that she really believed in Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle in the locked Church.

Locked up and alone, they both were. And both circumstances are heartbreaking for different reasons. Jesus is locked up and alone, mainly because the parish priest is too busy protecting church belongings, which would otherwise probably be vandalised, and because he has to ‘do so much’ else, that he’s never in Church.

Perhaps the laity can get organised like I proposed to a famous blogger priest once, whose Church is also locked up throughout the day (perhaps whilst he’s blogging away) except for Mass times, as I found out when I tried to go in for a quick prayer before a tough exam at medical school in Brighton. Although I came up with a list of vigilantes who would happily form a rota to keep the church open, there was no response from the priest.

Thankfully, a voluntary organisation called Age Concern, and paid carers via the extensive social services provided by the UK government, medical professionals and kindly neighbours and sometimes even family, visit elderly people who live alone.

But no one, without a key to unlock the Church, can get inside and keep Our Lord company.

Bishop Philip Egan, another extraordinary ordinary, who reigns over the neighbouring diocese of Portsmouth, has written an excellent article in The Catholic Herald this week, on how he believes evangelisation starts with open Church doors. An abridged version of it can be read electronically…/bishop-outraged….

Perhaps the answer is a key safe to the Church door? Just like the elderly have on their doors. Or, an ornate metal grille, to allow access to part of the Church. I’m sure a solution could be found easily, if one wants it to be found.

When you eventually get in, make sure you have a copy of St Alphonsus De Liguori’s little book,…/0895556677, with you. It’s a must have for any Catholic hoping to deepen a love for Eucharistic adoration.

Bishop Eagan says in his article, “Indeed we have the greatest treasure of all, Jesus Himself, really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Why on earth would we wish to lock him away from people? Indeed, surely we have no right to do this”.
I fear you may be a little hard on Parish Priests but I take your point. More could be done to make the Lord more available to people and keep churches open. (Ours is open all day, most days of the year, but then we are in Cork city centre.

About twenty years ago there was a movement around Ireland (where in general, outside the suburbs, churches are generally open all day) to have 24 hour … More
...just put your book suggestion on my birthday wish list, @Dr Stuart Reiss. Thanks for the idea!
adeste fideles
This is a good article..