Dear brothers and sisters of the Claretian family,
I have no words to express what has been going on in me at this Easter 2020. The Holy Week of this year obliged us to contemplate the enigmas of human life and the unfolding of its deeper meaning in the Paschal Mystery of our Lord. Amidst the unabated parade of the pandemic virus COVID-19 causing panic all over the world, we know that the power of the Risen Lord envelops all humanity with his words, “peace is with you”. The liturgy of Holy Week was marked by spiritual closeness in the physical distance between people. The divine mysteries celebrated within the closed doors of the churches were joined online by the faithful from their homes, binding their hearts in faith and hope through the invisible chord of God’s love. In the provident design of God, the gift of worldwide web prepared us to face the ordeal of the worldwide virus together and manage the lockdown days in the way we do now.
The period of Lent in 2020 coincided with the reclusion and lockdown for a big portion of humanity causing an unbelievable global practice of spiritual exercises. Humanity has been living a long Good Friday for the past few months as more and more families were bereft of their loved ones who died of COVID-19. There were doctors, nurses, priests and other service personnel including our brothers who risked their lives in serving the sick. Meanwhile, the lockdown has affected millions of poor who live from hand to mouth each day. In our “cloistered life”, the awareness of the struggle of the world was very much present, especially in prayers and liturgy. Now I know why it is said that the whole world is present in the cloister. Indeed, silence is the door to experience presence. Separation is a condition for communion. Clearly, we can live the crucifixion of our day in the light of the Risen Lord.
As I contemplate Jesus on the cross and the completion of his mission in the words, “it is finished” (Jn 19:30), I recall how our Founder learned from Jesus and lived his last days in Fontfroide. In this 150th anniversary of the death of our Founder, we learn from his life how to make the life and death of Jesus the measure of our mode of living and dying.
When we retreated into our homes for weeks, God gave the rest of creation a bonus period of a good time denied to them so far by the human chase for a happy life. It is amazing to see pictures of elephants treading on highways and ducks waddling through the runway of an airport without fear. Nature is breathing fresh air. We are now more aware that the planet is a shared home for all creation.
It is still difficult to foresee how a post-COVID 19 world would look like. The pandemic has questioned many of our accustomed attitudes and practices. One thing is certain: We, human beings, cannot and should not go on the way we had been organizing our lives and abusing resources by ignoring fellow beings and exploiting one another. Easter keeps reminding humanity of God’s gift of peace, joy, and life that never dies. Indeed, Christ is Risen from the dead. Alleluia!
Wish you all a joyful Easter.
Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF