Catholic Education Services Director Identity and Outreach Sharon O’Keeffe and Leader Formation Rachel McLean share their Easter reflections in a time of COVID-19.
This year we have experienced a Lent and Easter unlike anything we have experienced before. It has challenged us to explore not only how we live and work, but how we worship and be people of faith. Whilst there has been much written about those on the frontline: our essential workers, we haven’t seen a lot written about families. I am so mindful of the impact that the pandemic has had on families and the sacrifices that they are having to make.
Sr Joan Chittister writes powerfully about the role of a community in managing a crisis. I can see great parallels with the role of a family managing a pandemic like Coronavirus. She reminds us that being Christian starts with a belief in Jesus Christ, the one who rises from the cross at Easter. With this hope, we then foster community and “an incessant sense of personal responsibility that makes the undoable, doable always.” Community encourages us to be “more empathic, more aware of the needs of others, more present to the demands of it all.” Community relies not on rules, but on principles.
By extending this concept to the family, we are reminded that although rules are good, especially when trying to live harmoniously in isolation together, we need to return to what makes our family special. It is our beliefs, our principles and ways of being that makes each family unique and able to face the challenges as they arise. I pray that each family in our community is able to lean into their principles and be a family of hope during this Easter season.
The real superheroes
2000 years ago, a man with superpowers healed the blind and cured the incurable.
He died for us on Good Friday.
Today, women and men, young and old are dealing with a disease unlike anything they have ever seen. In these countries, people like you and me, are being superheroes for those who are suffering.
I give thanks for courageous doctors, nurses, cleaners, cooks, teachers, parents and carers. I pray for those who are sick, those who have died and those who have lost loved ones.
I ask for the strength to love without fear and to hope without doubt. During this Easter Season, I pray for peace and healing.
We ask this prayer, through our risen Christ, Amen.
Director Identity and Outreach
Being a witness
Easter Sunday marks the beginning of a 50 day period when the early church was called to be radical witnesses to Jesus resurrection. This was a time of confusion, concern and courage. Some of Jesus’ friends went into hiding, some became deniers of his new life, while others dared to love generously and respond in hope.
This Easter, we have all been called to find new ways of loving generously and responding in hope through our faith. Some of you have joined live-stream masses, some have listened to the readings of the day, while others have engaged in the plethora of reflections and spiritual opportunities that are evolving online in response to the Coronavirus. One of the experiences that I have explored is an online retreat called With Jesus in the Desert: A retreat for a time of isolation.
Day 13 of the retreat invites us to reflect on how Mary Magdalene was overcome with grief on the morning of the resurrection as she waited outside the empty tomb before delighting in the presence of the risen Christ. Her experience was read by all Catholics around the world on Easter Tuesday. In 2016, Mary Magdalene was proclaimed by Pope Francis the Apostle to the Apostles. This was a pretty exciting declaration by Pope Francis who saw the honoring of Mary Magdalene as an opportunity to reflect deeply on the dignity of women and their role in the Church as they share the good news of Christ’s rising. During this time of pandemic, it seems contradictory to think about ‘good news’ when so many people are hurting, suffering and dying. I have decided to turn to my faith, to the great witnesses of my tradition, like Mary Magdalene, to make meaning and give hope. I am daring to love radically and engage in inclusive and expansive prayer networks that cross borders and time zones. I encourage you to: share your faith; to be a person of prayer; and a witness like Mary.
Loving God, thank you for the love that brought Mary to the tomb in tears and took her away in joy.
Thank you for your love that took Jesus through death for us to life with us.
Thank you for the love that joins me to so many people.
Be with all who suffer in this epidemic.
May love lead me, both during my time of isolation and after it. Amen