By Susan Gately - 21 April, 2019
Faith is not about being against things, but about the joy and new life of Easter.
That’s the Easter message from the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Denis Nulty.
“What gives me the greatest joy at Easter is the happiness in people’s eyes,” Bishop Nulty told CatholicIreland.net. “The fact that our faith is positive, is upbeat. So often we associate our faith as being the Church is against this, that or the other. Easter is about what we are for, what we are promoting – joy and new life.”
For all of us, he continued, Easter causes us to stand at the empty tomb and realise that He has risen. “Easter defines our life as Christians.”
Asked if priests and others were challenged at this time by the sheer weight of ceremonial activities, Bishop Nulty said ceremonies were only what he and others did publicly. “There is a lot more we are doing that is not in the public eye. Priests in the parishes are attending the sick and the housebound and anointing them. There is a reach out in different ways happening – huge work by our priests, people and pastoral teams all over our diocese.”
The Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, told CatholicIreland.net that the lateness of Easter this year meant the “bursting forth of new energy and life in nature around us is very much in tune with the new energy and life that Easter brings us”.
For him the journey of Holy Week is akin to an intense spiritual retreat, going from the preparatory focus of Lent to the “joyful time on the occasion of the Chrism Mass” celebrating the birthday of priesthood, to the stations of the Cross, the Passion of the Lord and Easter.
On a spiritual level there is a roller-coaster of emotions at Easter.
“Feelings, engagement and spiritual shifts of gear from the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the joy of Chrism Mass, to the sadness of Gethsemane and the horror of the Cross on Good Friday, to the confusion and patient waiting of Holy Saturday and then the high of the delightful Resurrection. It’s a most intense journey, that plumbs the depth of our deepest emotions and humanity – but what a wonderful journey that is!”
Asked what could be done to entice people back to the beautiful Easter Tridium ceremonies, Bishop Monahan said many were encouraged to get involved by participating in choirs, processions and other events, but he admitted more engagement was needed to encourage them and to actively promote it during Lent, also through social media.
“However, there is no substitute for the warm personal invitation through the engagement of being out and about and meeting people in the course of their daily lives,” he said.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore told CatholicIreland.net that after the referendum result of May, the lines between those who fully accepted the Gospel of life and those who were either opposed or confused were clearer. “There perhaps are fewer sitting on the fence,” he said.
Jesus is looking for people of courage who will step up to the plate, he continued. “If we really love Ireland we will not let a sham secular and empty sophistry create havoc in human hearts which will never satisfy but only bring deep pain. Christ is the Way, Truth and Life and his message will always win in the end.
“To entice people back we need to strive to become saints and live our faith fully. No half measures. When people see authenticity they will recognise it,” he concluded.
Meanwhile in Rome today Pope Francis will celebrate Easter Mass in St Peter’s Square at 10am. At noon, he will impart the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the basilica’s central balcony (11am Irish time).