Fr Pat Raleigh spent Easter in Pakistan. He writes from Mirpurkhas about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects on Holy Saturday as a time to sit quietly with the paradoxes of life.
It is Holy Saturday here in Pakistan. It is very warm. In a few hours we will have the celebration of the beautiful Paschal Vigil Ceremony here in the little prayer room at the Joti Catechetical Centre in Mirpurkhas. Around 12 people will attend who will observe social distancing.
Little did I think that I would be sending Easter greetings from Pakistan. All of us have moments when our world has fallen or seems to fall apart. The past few months have been very traumatic for most people because of COVID-19. Some have suffered greatly, and it will continue for some time into the future.
Holy Week meant more to me this year than ever before. In the stillness of the place I had quality time to reflect on the journey of the Lord to Calvary. Through the various scripture readings and through social media I gained a deeper insight into suffering and pain; the pain and suffering of Jesus himself.
Nowhere was this more evident for me than in the Stations of the Cross from the Vatican and led by Pope Francis. Apart from the few people participating the place was empty. Yet there was something very special about it. It was truly symbolic when Pope Francis at the final Station received the Crucifix.
The stories for each Station depicted human life stories of people and their sufferings. Most of the stories were composed and written by people in prison. There was one in particular of a priest who was unjustly accused and who waited ten years to be vindicated.
This morning in the quiet of the little Chapel I was reflecting on Holy Saturday, the space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a time of holding death and life in tension with each other. Holy Saturday is a time to sit in quiet with the paradoxes of life.
During this time we are aware of our own fragility, pain and vulnerability. It is good to take ownership of it. When we feel pain and particularly each other’s pain it is a sign that we are alive. Holy Week has offered a wonderful opportunity for prayer which is a sign that we are not alone.
The risen Jesus represented in the Paschal Candle is calling and inviting us to a new way of living. Let us continue to search for the light of Easter in our hearts. When we do discover it may we generously share it with others.
As we celebrate Easter in the most unusual of circumstances, may the spirit and light of the risen Lord, watch over and protect us on our journey. May the risen Lord, in these fragile times, lead us into the light of peace and hope. Our calling is to continually search for the light of Easter.
Remembering you all in prayer at this Easter time especially the sick, the elderly and all those reaching out to the weak and vulnerable. May the flame from the Paschal Candle continue to radiate through us. May the Risen Lord shed his peaceful light on all of us.
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