Dear Parishioners and Friends of St Patrick’s
This has been for us all perhaps one of most surreal of Lenten Journeys. Celebrating the Liturgy of the Triduum over three days, alone in an empty Church, is strange indeed. It is just as strange to be watching the celebration of the Great Holy Week of Christians unfold on our TV’s and computer screens.
Sometimes it feels that isolation saps our very humanity: grandparents are isolated from their grandchildren, elderly parents from their children, lovers separated from one other. Yet people have rallied to keep channels of communication and love open. People shop for those who cannot leave the house, ensure that medication is delivered. People continue to send ecards, texts and make the phone call that can be life giving when isolated. A parishioner left gifts including fresh bread and wine on the door step of the presbytery. What a wonderful gift for Holy Thursday! Small gestures can speak of profound belonging.
Though the pandemic had closed our churches and prevented us from gathering for Mass, the community will bounce back, recovering from our long Eucharistic fast. Pray God that we will bounce back stronger, more united, more idealistic – if we learn the lessons. With thanksgiving we rejoice this Easter in the countless acts of selfless service we’ve witnessed in recent days from health workers, neighbours, families and our church family. Think of the novel pastoral responses to this novel coronavirus. In times like these people of faith and ideals really shine.
After Good Friday comes Easter, after the tomb new life. There can never be resurrection without first standing at the foot of the cross and passing through death. This is for us both our Passover and Feast. We know this to be central to our faith as Christians. Yet this year has brought this into very stark relief indeed.
On Holy Saturday night, the new Paschal Candle is usually lit from a blazing fire which lights up the night sky and carried into the darkened Church with songs of “The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God”. This is a vibrant symbol of the risen Christ, our light returned and hope restored. Tonight there will be no congregation to light their own candles from the great Paschal Candle and no procession. Yet this vibrant symbol that Christ has conquered death will still be lit in St Patrick’s Church this evening. That darkness will still be pierced. Pray God, that we will continue to demonstrate that Easter light in our works of mercy and prayer, as we show our love and concern for others as we continue through Eastertide.
Yes, this will be for us an unprecedented celebration of Easter in modern times. Yet the light and life of Christ has conquered fear and death. The risen Christ continues daily to speak those Easter words to us, “Do not be afraid”. We must hold fast as an Easter People to the reality of Our Lord’s Resurrection in our lives today, rejoicing that he is truly risen.
May God bless you, your homes and loved ones in this strange but holy time.
With Easter blessings
Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.