‘The only way to Easter is through the cross,’ Archbishop Hebda says

| April 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Jesus, Crucifix

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In a Holy Week Retreat streamed on the internet rather than offered in person to help curb the spread of the sometimes-deadly new coronavirus, Archbishop Bernard Hebda April 5 encouraged listeners to take this time to imitate Christ in sacrifice and love for others.

“The only way to Easter is through the cross,” the archbishop said. “Let’s ask during this Holy Week how the Master has need of us.”

With public Masses that include distribution of the Eucharist suspended in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at least through April 19, the octave of Easter, the archbishop introduced the retreat with a 30-minute talk and 15-minute veneration of the Eucharist in a mostly empty Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

He  suggested several ways people might participate in Christ’s passion by helping one another in the midst of the crisis, including “extra time in prayer, time and affection for the kids, packing lunches for the homeless.”

The archbishop’s decision to suspend public Masses and discourage gatherings of more than 10 people are part of a statewide and national effort to curb the spread of the virus, which has continued to expand its reach and claim more lives. Gov. Tim Walz has issued a stay-at-home order effective at least through April 10, and he has suggested it could be extended.

It also means that the holiest time in the Church year, when the passion and resurrection of Jesus are commemorated at Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday liturgies, at the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, will be marked by social distancing and no public distribution of holy Communion. Confessions and adoration of the Eucharist often are taking place outdoors, with people staying in their cars and priests staying a safe distance away. Private Masses said in churches and chapels are being livestreamed, televised and broadcast over the radio.

As people miss the Eucharist and mourn not being able to gather in community, this Holy Week and Easter become unique opportunities to grow in faith and pour out love for family, friends and neighbors, the archbishop said.

Giving up liturgies to keep others safe from COVID-19 is a way “to serve rather than be served. To serve those most susceptible,” but also medical professions whose lives would be affected by a surge in the number of illnesses, he said.

It is a time, he said, to look not at what we can receive, “but what we, through God’s grace, can give.”

The liturgies remain vitally important, Archbishop Hebda said. The Holy Week Retreat, which includes prayers or Mass each morning and talks or liturgies each evening, all from various locations in the archdiocese, is one way to share in these days the grace that the liturgies have to offer, he said.

“Even when experienced remotely, they remind us of the intensity of Christ’s love for us and call us to imitate him in obedient and humble service and self-gift.” he said.

To participate in the virtual Holy Week Retreat, go to archspm.org/holyweekretreat.

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