This Easter is going to be lto grayer and atypical for millions of Catholics worldwide due to the coronovarius pandemic, which prevents the celebration of processions through the streets and forces you to follow the masses through the Internet without being able to go to the temples. The restrictions also prevail in the Vatican, where Pope Francis presided over the first of the Easter Triduum celebrations this Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, which recalls the Last Supper.
The Eucharist did not take place in a prison or in a reception center for immigrants, as it had been happening every year since he began his pontificate and as he used to do when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, but in the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It was a sober and essential ceremony, with only a handful of faithful and regardless of the traditional rite of foot washing. The same will happen with the rest of the celebrations of these days, such as the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, which will be held in Saint Peter’s Square and not in front of the Colosseum, as it happened for more than 50 years, or the Easter mass. next Sunday, which will conclude with the usual Urbi et Orbe blessing.
The pandemic also forced postpone the chrism mass that Jorge Mario Bergoglio used to celebrate on the morning of Holy Thursday in St. Peter’s Basilica, dedicated the priests. It was to them that he dedicated the homily during the Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper. «I cannot fail to mention the priests who offer their lives for the Lord, who are servants. In these days, more than 60 have died here in Italy, caring for the sick in hospitals with doctors and nurses, “said the Pontiff, who considered them the” next door saints “because” serving they have given the lifetime”.
After quoting the “anonymous” missionaries who died in distant lands from “the plagues”, the chaplains of the jails and the rural priests who care for seven or eight villages “and the names of all the neighbors and even the dogs are known “, The Pope remembered the” slandered priests, who cannot go out into the streets because they say ugly things to them “. Bergoglio spoke of the “drama we have lived” and the priests “who have done ugly things”, referring to pedophilia, the greatest recent crisis that has shaken the Catholic Church. He asked all priests not to be “afraid to forgive.”
The image of the empty Vatican basilica was very striking while Francis officiated the mass on the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. As happened last Palm Sunday, on this occasion the crucifix of the Roman church of San Marcello al Corso was also exhibited, considered miraculous and that was taken out in procession in 1522, in times of the black plague. Next to it was the icon of the Virgin ‘Salus Populi Romani’, the most venerated in the Italian capital and which is usually preserved in the Basilica of Santa María La Mayor.
For the British journalist Austen Ivereigh, author of two of the most important books on Francis and his pontificate, the Pope sees this atypical Easter “an opportunity for conversion: of tragedy, yes, but also of renewal, provided we know how to open ourselves to the new possibilities that divine grace always offers us in times of tribulation ». Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and one of the most respected intellectuals in the Catholic world, considered for his part that this Easter “poor because of the pandemic, one must live the essential: the word and the history of the Passion ».
It will be for the cardinal “part of the great education to interiority, substance and essence of things that will be in this period.” The pandemic «teaches us to live with a different
scale of values, in which money, success and power are no longer at the vertex, “said Ravasi. Ivereigh also highlighted three “practical tips” from the Pope offered in his interview this week. The first is “respond to confinement creatively, avoiding the temptation of useless distractions and self-absorption.” The second is to be able to “resist fear and take as a model the ‘heroes’ who serve others.” And finally, “look honestly at the past, and ask ourselves where we are wrong, personally and as a society and what we should change.”
With the population of half the world deprived of “our frenetic routines of production and consumption” the opportunity arises “to choose what matters most. And that way, maybe, when we get back to normal, it won’t be that normal. After this, the world will not be what it was. What about us? Ivereigh wondered.