Celebrating the Easter Season
Happy Easter! Yes, despite our current circumstances, it is happy because Jesus has risen and overcome death. This time in our lives may feel as if Lent continues, but it will come to an end, this will pass, and if we use this time to focus on our relationships with God, family, and the world, we will all emerge better people.
As I shared in my Easter message:
This year, we are left with our faith and our hope for better days soon. We have gone through a real Lent of tremendous sacrifice, but we cannot lose faith or hope, knowing that this crisis will pass. When it is over, we can rebuild our world and our lives. Counting on God’s help and with strong faith, we will be better people and build a better world.
Forty-six days ago, we began our Lenten journey. This year we made extraordinary sacrifices during Lent. Perhaps, the greatest one was not being able to go to church to receive the sacraments and to celebrate the Eucharist. We have had to let go of so many things we did every year during this time.
We had kind of died a little bit. But then three days ago, we began the Easter Triduum. We celebrated the death of our Lord. Today, we can rejoice and celebrate his Resurrection, his victory over sin and death.
This year, we all know Easter and Holy Week has been very different. No church attendance, celebrating and praying at home, no sacraments, no big family gathering to continue the celebration. No invited guests. Yes, our sacrifice is still continuing.
Now imagine the sadness and disappointment of all those who have been preparing to receive Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Their hope and excitement about becoming Catholics — about being baptized, confirmed, receiving the Eucharist — has all been postponed. But I want to say to any candidates and catechumen — don’t get discouraged. You will receive the sacraments, and hopefully very soon, when we are able again to celebrate public Masses.
If we find it challenging and difficult to rejoice and be happy today, remember Easter is fifty days. We have plenty of time to experience the presence and power of the Risen Lord in our lives. To pray and reflect on what all this means to us and to keep hoping.
Easter is proof that evil will not win the battle. Easter is proof that evil will not have the last word. As death did not have the last word in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, neither will the coronavirus have the last word in 2020. Easter reminds us that although we are living in this world, our eyes are set on heaven.
Jesus did not suffer and die to make us culturally Catholic. He died to make us true disciples, make us saints, to make us holy, to call us to change and to conversion each day.
My dear friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this crisis we are in demands and reminds us of our own fragility and vulnerability. Yet, Easter reminds us that God can turn things around. He did turn things around in Jerusalem; the people who betrayed and who sought to eliminate Jesus thought they could just kill Jesus, and everything would be over. No one would ever hear of Jesus again. God had a different plan, and he turned their planned upside down. And God’s plan is the one that remains until this day. So God will also reverse the course of this crisis we are in.
He will have another plan for us and for our world. He will do with us and our situation what he did in Jerusalem 2000 years ago—after suffering, there is reward. That is what Easter tells us.
Jesus went through the suffering on the cross and death and God and raised him up to new life. Easter is proof that something really good can come out of suffering, from a crisis, and from difficult situations.
Divine Mercy Sunday
On May 5, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina’s Diary records fourteen occasions when Jesus requested that a Feast of Mercy be observed. In 2002, the Vatican published an additional decree attaching a Plenary (or partial) Indulgence to Divine Mercy Sunday. To obtain this Indulgence, three conditions must be fulfilled:
- Sacramental confession,
- Eucharistic communion, and
- A prayer for the intentions of the Pope.
The decree includes provisions to allow those unable to meet these requirements for those who are seriously ill or are unable to go to Church. The faithful may say an Act of Contrition to satisfy the first condition, with the intention to return to the sacrament of reconciliation when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Likewise, the faithful may attend an online Mass and make a Spiritual Communion to satisfy the second condition.
Additional steps to fulfill the devotion, found in the Vatican decree:
“…the sick and those who nurse them, and all who for a just cause cannot leave their homes or who carry out an activity for the community which cannot be postponed, may obtain a plenary indulgence on Divine Mercy Sunday, if totally detesting any sin, as has been said before, and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, will recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus and, in addition, pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).” Read the entire document here.
What at blessing the Holy Spirit guided this devotion so that none would be barred from the graces abounding within it. The original image of the Divine Mercy can be seen — HERE.
Blessings on you and your family, and may we experience the peace of the risen Christ in our hearts.
My prayers for best wishes for a blessed Easter to all of you.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha