The Paschal Triduum with Standard Operating Procedures: While as a Christian community, we earnestly desire to come together to contemplate the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, in the context of a surge in the Covid-19 cases, we need to be careful regarding the protection of the people from the possible contagion when we share the place in close proximity. As of now, the Government of Karnataka and the local administration have issued guidelines. We shall follow them and act accordingly. The Holy Week ceremonies can be transmitted via Online Services. Care must be taken to maintain the sanctity and seriousness of the whole event and avoid any sort of mere dramatizing.
The Lord’s Supper: The Holy Thursday with the celebration of the Last Supper, together with the washing of the feet and the New Commandment by our Lord forms the opening day of this month. On this day, we enter into a great mystery played out in the last few hours of Christ’s earthly life. Laden with a heavy heart and yet with a firm resolve to meet that “hour” determined by the Father, Christ has celebrated the Last Supper and he has left a memorial in remembrance of his great sacrifice, for us and for our salvation.
Normally, the collection made during the Maundy Thursday celebration is meant for the Priests’ Aid Fund. Our priests, both retired and those in active service, deserve decent and dignified living. Our contribution is our way of telling them that we care for them. Proper announcements must be made to inform the faithful about the purpose of their contribution. The Parish Priests and Religious Priests in charge of the chapels/oratories where the ceremonies are conducted with the participation of the faithful are to send the collection to the diocesan Procurator.
Good Friday: The Creed summarises the public life of Jesus with one word, “suffered”. Jesus too understood that his whole life and work was directed towards this “hour”. The day of the Lord’s Passion helps us to contemplate his great sacrifice of love to save us, “knowing that [we] were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet 1: 19). St Paul also reminds of the great sacrifice of love made by Jesus Christ: “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6: 20).
The Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord is a great privilege given to us. Let us spend this day with deep contemplation on the Crucified, who loved us and gave himself for us (cf. Gal 2: 20). Our fast, abstinence and prayer is the expression of our gratitude towards him. Whatever we have saved and offer as sacrificial love offering must be seen as a loving response to the love of our Lord. Whatever we collect today will be sent for the upkeep of the holy places in the land our Lord was born and for his little brothers and sisters.
Holy Saturday and Descent among the Dead: This day invites us to grand silence, as the Great King goes to wake up those who have fallen asleep. The Word of God falls silent on earth, but he communicates with those waiting for their redemption. To manifest that he truly died, his burial bears testimony. In the utmost loneliness, he preached love to the dead. St Peter expressed that Jesus “went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey” (1 Pet 3: 19). The redemptive act of the Cross was by no means intended solely for the living, but also includes in iteslf all those who died before and after it. This day invites us to wait with hope that the Lord will rise as he has promised, and he will raise our mortal bodies so that we who are mortal are rendered immortal. Let us give unreservedly into the hands of God as Jesus, our Master did. The Office of Reading of the day has a wonderful homily of ancient times, in which the preacher tells us that our Lord invites Adam and all those who succeeded him to come to heaven. From Holy Saturday onward, death becomes purification and prepares humanity to receive salvation.
Easter Sunday: “Raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15: 4), confesses Paul, and he claims that he too has seen the Lord. “And if Christ has not been raised [our] faith is futile and [we] are still in [our] sins” (1 Cor 15: 17). Jesus’ apparitions and empowering of his disciples have been clear indications that he has changed human history, where death has given way to life. Death does not have anymore the last word. “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15: 54). Let the resurrection of Jesus be the beacon of light to implant the seeds of hope in the lives of people who suffer various vicissitudes in their life. Generate hope, and you have done much for them.
Vocation Sunday: On 25 April 2021 we celebrate the Vocation Sunday. It is a day to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers. Let us motivate the young boys and girls to make great sacrifices for God and for his people.
A Big Thanks: On 24 March 2021, we had the Pastoral Consultation in the Seminary and after that the Recollection, Confessions and the Chrism Mass. I am truly grateful to everyone who was present and contributed his share in these events. Your personal presence, free and frank expression of your observations are precious to come to certain concrete conclusions. I am indebted to everyone who helped to prepare for it. A special thanks to V. Rev. Fr Joseph Martis, the Secretary of the Council of Priests and to the Rector and Administrator of St Joseph Seminary for their help. Even during the Chrism Mass, we had good attendance which was very encouraging. I thank sincerely V. Rev. Fr Alfred Pinto and everyone who were instrumental in the activities of the day.
I wish you all a Grace-filled Holy Week and a Joyous Easter.
+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore