An Easter Reflection
Easter, the Pasch, Holy Week, the time of Passover is a transition time, crossing the bridge from one reality to another. Spring to early Summer. Good Friday into Easter Sunday. The discipline & austerity of Lent, penitence and reconciliation into the freedom & celebration of the six glorious weeks Eastertide.
I recall remarking last year – that we were effectively living an on-going type of Lent. This was so, whether we wanted to or not – with the restrictions, isolation and curtailments imposed upon us and all the fall-out from that, not to mention the thousands who had been sick and bereaved.
While we are steadily emerging from the Covid crisis, the war in Ukraine has again filled us with an ongoing sense of disbelief and horror. The past ten weeks has been another modern-day journey of the Cross, Good Friday in current reality. I remember remarking to a colleague at one stage in the midst of a particularly challenging time that in general we seem to endure a lot of pain and suffering in this world. His response was to quote the Hail Holy Queen Prayer or Salve Regina that situates us in ‘exile’ in this world and our being in a ‘valley of tears’. In some sense there is consolation in having a belief that we are not meant to be happy in this world and that our hope and destiny is in eternal happiness in the next world. Therein we are at the heart of what we celebrate in Holy Week and Easter.
Holy Week brings us on a profound journey that draws on the depths or our human experience. In that we move from triumph and jubilation of Palm Sunday to the charitable act of love of Mary of Bethany with the anointing of the feet of Jesus. From that we descend to the depths of betrayal and the let-down by Judas and Peter. Onwards even further the spiral of descent continues to the trial and torture, sadness and suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Is it any wonder that we need a bank holiday after to recover before moving to the delights stored up and to be cracked open in the proverbial Easter Egg of promise, goodness and hope that the fruits of the Paschal Mystery offer.
In the past few weeks there have been a number of stories that mirrored and echoed that Lenten and Easter journey. I have been deeply conscious of the solidarity expressed by so many people with those effected by the recent war in Ukraine. For the past two months we have seen the Paschal Mystery acted out from beginning to end. The horror and shock of war and destruction has been a calvary for those affected first-hand and for everyone looking on, powerless and upset. However, the transparent goodness, kindness and generosity of so many has been immense. The response to the nation-wide Church collection for the people of Ukraine was incredible and that is on top of many having contributed already to numerous other individual charities working in this field. The openness, generosity of welcome of families, individuals and communities to house and share home with the displaced has personified the Gospel message in action. Good Friday and Easter Sunday rolled into one.
In recent times I have joined the board of Trócaire, what has become in perception the ‘Lenten charity’ of the Episcopal Conference, a charity for helping people in developing countries. It celebrates the golden jubilee of founding next year and has raised several millions to enable people to rise to meet challenges of war, drought, famine and natural disasters. Right through the pandemic and in the midst of the financial demands of the Ukraine, people have continued to be generous to contribute to their good work. Again, people internalising and acting on the Gospel and Easter message. An appropriate moment perhaps to remind you not to forget to return the ‘Trócaire Box’ in the near future if not done already!
Just two weeks ago the nation was captivated in admiration by the courage of the epic pilgrim journey of Charlie Bird. A journey that begun with the sadness and Good Friday experience of his sad diagnosis of MND. His journey of the Cross was born with and for him by thousands in being physically present as he ascended the Holy Mountain of St. Patrick and the millions of euro raised for MND research and Pieta House. The Paschal Mystery again incarnate and alive these Lenten and Easter days.
As we celebrate this special time I thank you as you follow this spiritual column each week. I hope it helps bring an alternative, thoughtful perspective to your reading. A very happy, faith-filled and pleasant Easter to you and yours. May the hope and delight of the season be in your heart these days and always.
Fintan Monahan – Bishop of Killaloe
Clare Champion Article – Good Friday 15th of April 2022