Dear friends in Christ,
Pope Francis in his Easter message tells us: “And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound.” This has, without doubt been one of the strangest Lents I have ever known. And now we begin this holy season of Easter, the time of the victory of the Risen Lord Jesus in an equally strange and challenging time.
In his Easter address, Pope Francis directs his comments to a number of groups. First he addresses families:
“I can imagine you in your families, living an unusual life to avoid contagion. I am thinking of the liveliness of children and young people, who cannot go out, attend school and live their lives.”
As I speak to my brother priests, that is the one thing that comes up over and over, we miss you. I miss seeing you at the Liturgies. I miss greeting the kids after Mass with a high five or a hand shake.
Secondly, the Holy Father addresses those who feel alone, and the elderly: “These days I often think about people who are alone, and for whom it is more difficult to face these moments. Above all I think of the elderly, who are very dear to me.”
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often noted that she felt Western culture was the poorest culture. Not because of monetary poverty, but the poverty of loneliness and isolation. In particular, I have experienced the greatest difficulty lately being cut off from those in hospital – whom we are forbidden to visit at this time.
I have found myself on the phone a lot with parishioners who are struggling with the stress on their families, marriages, the unemployed and those feeling overwhelmed by this pandemic.
I also have felt this sadness as I have had to bury four of our parishioners lately without being able to extend a hand, or get close to the families who are mourning. I believe that after all this is done, there is going to be a lot of ministry needed for those whose mourning and those who are left with the anxiety and stress at having been alone and cut off.
The Pope goes on and acknowledges our health care workers and first responders: “I am aware of the generosity of those who put themselves at risk for the treatment of this pandemic or to guarantee the essential services to society. So many heroes, every day, at every hour.”
I am so grateful for all these folks that are putting in extra hours to server our communities, and those who are risking their own health and well being by serving us.
Ultimately, what do we do with this time that God has allowed His people to experience? We can be angry, resentful, selfish and depressed. But let us make the best use of this time. Let us be generous and help our neighbor. Perhaps by telephone or social networks let us reach out and make sure that there is no one who spends Easter, our greatest Feast, “alone.” Pope Francis says that: “what is needed is the creativity of love.”
God bless you all with a Blessed and Holy Easter