Churches may be closed and public worship suspended, but Australia’s Catholic bishops have reminded the faithful that although COVID-19 may be our “uninvited Easter guest”, the Resurrection of Jesus continues to bring hope.
In his Easter message, Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse explained corona means "crown” in Latin and the coronavirus pandemic has become “a crown of thorns for us all”.
“In the hours before his death, Jesus, too, knew of a crown of thorns. It became one of his terrible sufferings before his death on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus suffers with us in our sufferings. This is the meaning of the keyword compassion. The Easter message is clear: by suffering with the suffering Jesus, we enter by grace into the hope of Resurrection in him,” Archbishop Prowse wrote.
In his message to the Brisbane faithful, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the term social distancing, used to describe the distance Australians are being called to keep from other people, does not mean spiritual distancing.
“If anything, it can mean the opposite; and there are already signs of unexpected spiritual fruits emerging in the midst of the crisis,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“This Easter we are called to a new kind of creativity which will allow physical distancing produce new forms of spiritual closeness – closeness to God and to each other. There is a grace in the restrictions of COVID-19, and it’s up to us to discover it.”
Bishop Shane Mackinlay also touched on the creativity shown by people in these uncertain times in his first Easter message since becoming Bishop of Sandhurst last year.
“I have been heartened and encouraged by the creative and generous ways that people are finding to maintain social connection even if we are physically distant,” Bishop Mackinlay said.
“The period of Lent, preparing for Easter, is a time when we let go of some of the extra things in our lives, focusing on what is essential and strengthening our trust in the faithfulness of God’s care for us. We might think of these months as an extended and dramatic period of Lent or retreat.
“Our Easter celebrations this year will be muted. Nonetheless, they are an anticipation of the hope we proclaim each Easter, of the God who knows the desolation, darkness and emptiness of Jesus’ death on the cross, and who brings the new life of the Resurrection.”
Adelaide and Port Pirie