Easter Thoughts – Clare Champion Article

What a journey Holy Week is!  All the way from the triumph of Palm Sunday, descending rapidly to the sad depths of Spy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then the dramatic rise again to the ecstatic joy of Easter Sunday.  A whirlwind, a roller coaster journey of triumph, faith, despair and ascent again to magnificent hope filled glory.

This Easter time is a journey of Passover and a transition time.  In that movement we cross a number of bridges from one reality to another. Spring to early Summer.  Good Friday into Easter Sunday. The discipline and austerity of Lent, fasting and reconciliation into the feasting and freedom and celebration of the six joy filled weeks Eastertide.

During the recent years of pandemic we were effectively living an on-going type of Lent, year-round.  Now, almost on a daily basis I hear people express appreciation that we have at last emerged almost completely from this time of austerity, isolation and loneliness and we can interact normally once again.

While we have emerged from the Covid crisis, the war in Ukraine

continues to dominate our news headlines. The recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey and the ongoing crisis in homelessness close to home and further afield have caused much suffering and stress.  It is clear to see that the reality of many crosses still exist, despite the progress we make in so many ways.

The mystery of The Cross, the ever-present reality of suffering is never far from our doors.  I often ponder the motto of the Carthusians “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis”, Latin for “The Cross is steady while the world turns.” The Cross of Jesus Christ, the instrument of our redemption that we venerate on Good Friday is the source of hope in the face of this stark reality.

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 earthquake in Turkey and Syria.   Since that happened we have seen the Paschal Mystery acted out in reality with the profound working of charity.  As a result of an impromptu collection at short notice in the diocese of Killaloe Diocese parishioners donated well over €150,000, sent to Trócaire to use by their partners for disaster relief in this area.

The horror and shock of war, earthquake 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 Church collection for the people of Turkey and Syria was incredible and that is on top of many having contributed already to numerous other individual charities working in this field.

I hear many similar stories in being a member of the board of Trócaire, a charity founded 50 years ago this year for helping people in developing countries.  In celebrating the golden jubilee of founding this year we rejoice with great pride that an Irish Charity has raised several millions to enable people to rise to meet challenges of war, drought, famine and natural disasters.  Right through the many challenging times 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!

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 meaning, hope and delight of the season be in your heart these days and always.

Fintan Monahan – Bishop of Killaloe

Clare Champion Article – Good Friday 7th of April 2023