Easter of silence

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Easter of silence

Catholic faithful prepare to celebrate Easter at home
This year is an opportunity to be drawn into silence and encounter the Easter mystery more personally and profoundly, Archbishop Julian says as Catholics around Tasmania prepare to celebrate Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum in their own homes.

With public Masses suspended and churches closed to the public due to the coronavirus, this year many of the priests of the Archdiocese of Hobart will be celebrating the Easter ceremonies alone.

The Catholic faithful are being encouraged to observe the most sacred time of the Church’s year through personal prayer and uniting themselves with the liturgies through live-streaming.

Palm Sunday Mass, the Chrism Mass, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night, the 3pm service on Good Friday, the Easter vigil and Easter Sunday morning Mass will all be live-streamed from St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart.
“This year we’ll be celebrating Easter in a very different way,” Archbishop Julian said.

“I really want to encourage people to keep those days as really holy days. …The key thing is to say: ‘We will live the Easter mystery this year in our family, and in our own personal life, our own personal hearts.’”

Archbishop Julian said that we have – in a sense – been drawn into silence and, with family events and travel curtailed, are possibly better placed to live Easter this year.

He says that the silence of our Easter could be very fruitful.
“We can take the silences, in one sense imposed upon us, as a blessing, as an opportunity. So we can then take time on these days to read and to reflect and to enter into each of the events of the Easter mystery more personally and more profoundly.

“Sometimes we can just go on to a ceremony and take part in it. Now we have to be a bit more creative, a bit more intentional, a bit more responsible in saying, ‘I'm going to do these things so that I really do live the mystery of Easter myself this year.’”

Being tangibly separated from the sacraments this Easter does not take us away from the reality that the sacraments convey, His Grace said.

“We can't now physically receive Holy Communion at Mass. But we can pray and express a great desire of our heart for a personal communion with Christ. And so in a way, this current situation, draws us more deeply and more immediately to live our faith at the spiritual level. It's activated our faith.

“And for people who perhaps are finding this situation destabilising and causing a degree of anxiety and fear, this is the very time to seek God. While we can't do physical things like attend Mass or receive a particular sacrament, God is always there. God is always available. God's always ready for us. So we can engage with God in the depths of our heart, and, I think, in a way that can be a blessing for us as well,” Archbishop Julian said.

“God is spirit. God is always accessible. It really just means for us to open our hearts. It really means for us to pause in the silence, perhaps to pause in the midst of our own fears and anxieties and know that God is there, know that God is available to us. Knowing that God came precisely to save us and to show he wants to be with us. So wherever we are with our faith, we can still find God, particularly over the Easter period.”

The Congregation for Divine Worship has released a decree on celebrating the Holy Week and Paschal Triduum ceremonies during the disruption caused by the coronavirus. For example, for priests celebrating Mass without a congregation, the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday night is to be omitted.

One thing that the spread of the coronavirus has shown us, Archbishop Julian says, is how deeply interlinked we are with all of humanity through globalisation, and our great fragility.

“The Lord came and offered his life on the cross for the whole of humanity. Maybe one thing we can carry with us through the time of Easter is that we carry all of humanity as the Lord did. He died for all men and women for all of history. So we're not just celebrating Easter [for] my own personal faith, my own personal life, my own personal salvation, but we're aware also of the reality that Christ's action was for the whole of humanity.”