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Holy Week and the Coronavirus

Posted by Br Lewis Harwood FSC on 7 April 2020
Holy Week and the Coronavirus

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." (John 20:1)

It is challenging to reflect on that we are entering Holy Week beginning with the waving of palms. It is also a very strange paradox that Palm Sunday remembers the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey. Crowds of people welcoming someone claiming to be the Son of God and saviour would seem completely absurd and worrying in our modern times.  It would seem even more crazy if this occurred today in view of recent health concerns with regard to public spaces.

The onset of COVID-19 has indeed changed our way of living in recent weeks with the possibility of a prolonged period of social restrictions and closures for the foreseeable future. How can we celebrate such a meaningful, and what is, the most sacred occasion in the Church's liturgical calendar? A time when people come together to remember the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. A time when people let go of past hurts and disappointments and embrace the intimate journey of Good Friday to the beautiful Easter Sunday morning.  How can we possibly embrace this time of pain?

The Sacred Triduum as it is known offers us again the opportunity to apply this spiritual story to our lives and create its relevance to the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Currently, our Lenten journey has been "rocked" by COVID-19 and as we enter Holy Week we do so with heavy thoughts, fears and sorrow. The Holy Week narratives take on an extra sense of meaning as a result of this global pandemic as we isolate ourselves and are in a state of "lockdown" and social distancing. We enter the garden with a "solitary cry" and walk the road to Calvary with our crosses which we bear. The darkness of uncertainty will cast its shadow on each of us as we join together to fight against the terrible virus. However, allow the transformation of the Sunday morning discovery of the "empty tomb" awaken you to new insights, new hopes and a new sense of focus.  Breathe in the joy of this hope.

The Sacred Heart Parish in Darlinghurst, Sydney is in the middle of the city. It is a wonderful old looking Church that has an endearing and inspiring mosaic of a resurrected Christ (it is well worth a visit!). The mosaic depicts Christ as standing on a rock in the wide ocean of life, his arms outstretched as if to say, you are welcome and let me shine this new day to you. The prayer below is an Easter prayer written to capture this moment. The poems are also reflections on this sacred week.

Let us make the journey to Easter a spiritual one bringing the cries of the world; the fears and anxieties of the world and the hope of newness of life.

Stay well and stay connected.
A life-transforming Easter to each of you!

Prayer for Easter

Shine on us- today, tomorrow and forever.

Let your grace - shine on us;
Let your love - shine on us;
Let your spirit - shine on us;
Let your mercy - shine on us;
Let your compassion - shine on us;
Let your hope - shine on us;
Let your peace - shine on us;
Let your goodness - shine on us;
Let your joy - shine on us;
Let your forgiveness - shine on us;
Let your faithfulness - shine on us;
Let your consolation - shine on us;
Let your radiance - shine on us;
Let your glory - shine on us;
Let your Holy Resurrection - shine on us;

Lord, shine on us this day. Amen!


Good Friday Poem

Poem: The Cross in the Woods

Alone and quiet in this afternoon sometime during the winter months;
How tall are these wind pines - they climb toward the heights of glory.

Tradition shapes the grass and these old landscapes;
the chill in the air blows form the snow caps further down the old rail tracks;
The track speaks numerous voices of past stories and eulogies;

Alone and wandering through the woods of nature, a striking figure emerges;
the wood plank holding the adored piece of love:
The uncompromising winds wobble this figure back and forth -
like the sounds of a ship plank tying to balance against the mighty ocean swells -
the winds will surely settle once again.

The cross in the woods welcomes the winds and the warm winter solace


Easter Sunday Poem

Poem: Bright and Beautiful

The new day is dawning;
White sand and mountains - rejoice with the closing tide;
The sea birds exclaim: bright and beautiful; bright and beautiful.

The waters will recede once again the new day will bring fresh smells of salt and sunshine. The dolphins will sing the familiar chant:
it's bright and beautiful - it's bright and beautiful once more!

The ocean swells will welcome the coming of a new age - a birth beaming forward.

Bring your candles; bring your hearts -
the new day dawns upon the fresh garden of joy and shared discovery


Author:Br Lewis Harwood FSC
About: Vocations Team
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