Spiritan Features

An Easter like no other - except perhaps the very first Easter!
Seán O’Leary C.S.Sp.

Taiwan, like the rest of the world, has had to deal with the disruption and chaos brought by COVID-19. In an atmosphere of anxiety and fear, two Catholic dioceses cancelled all public services. We are blessed that our bishop decided to keep churches in our diocese open, conditional on strict guidelines on both the safety of the congregation and control of the spread of the virus. It is strange to see everyone, priests and the faithful, get their temperature taken at the church door, keeping a distance from each other during the Mass, wearing face-masks and sanitising hands before receiving communion. One gets a real sense that we are living in strange and anxious times.

Easter 2020 was an Easter like no other. For the first time in recent memory, there was no washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, no kissing the cross on Good Friday, and no gathering around the Easter fire for the Saturday night Easter vigil. The whole world experienced a "Good Friday" - a time of the cross, of darkness, fear, isolation, sickness and death. But, as we celebrated Easter Saturday night, the hour of darkness gives way to the light of Easter, symbolised by the lighting of the Paschal candle. "The light has come into the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome."

The atmosphere at the celebration of the Triduum was very different - and very special - this year. Many Catholics felt connected in a more intimate and powerful way with the darkness and death of the cross and, through that, to the new life of hope, courage and the victory of the resurrection. Our parishioners felt in solidarity with the suffering of the world; our prayer was that this darkness and pain would soon give way to new life, new hope and new joy, symbolised by the resurrection.

This Easter was like no other. In a way it evoked a very strong sense that the events which we celebrated over the three days were the closest that we would ever feel to the original Easter: the darkness, despair, isolation, fear and death that were experienced by the disciples on Good Friday giving way to the new life of hope, joy, communion, solidarity and courage of Easter Sunday.

The Risen Lord is saying to us all at this time: Courage, It is I; Do not be afraid.