April 19, 2020

Creating a Holy Atmosphere

from Sr. M. Lizzy Arakkaparambil

The holy week and
the Easter celebration

in the middle of the Corona virus barrier in India

It was a strange and unforgettable Holy Week and the celebration of the Easter liturgy for all our filiations and for the extern sisters in India. In our regional house in Bangalore almost all the sisters were able to have their retreats before Holy Week, unfortunately on two days without Holy Mass. But also all other filiations and the extern sisters in our region were able to prepare themselves well for the great Easter with prayer and silence during this Corona time.

In an extern filiation where there are only two sisters, they could take turns in having their retreat. They looked after each other and took care of the house. It was a strange situation, but unfortunately also without Holy Mass. They sit alone in the house all the time and are not allowed to go outside. They celebrated this Holy Week and the Easter celebration over the Internet.

Two of our sisters live in a rented flat with a family in the very south of Kerala. They said: We are mostly sitting here in our Home Shrine, we cannot go out, but it is a comfort that we each have our own Home Shrine. They say: “We have been praying the Stations of the Cross with the family from Palm Sunday every day on the terrace. The family was very happy that we could do it together. We were also able to experience the celebration of the great week and the Easter liturgy only through YouTube or on television, live from the diocese, without Holy Communion of course”.

Our celebration of Holy Week in the middle of the Corona virus barrier.

Sr. M. Josy Parokkaran and Sr. M. Christne  Maniyath tell us:

“The Cross of Jesus Christ is the symbolic representation of God’s deepest and infinite merciful love for mankind. Christ not only spoke to us through his life, but he also spoke to us through his death.

As we have celebrated the Holy Week despite the isolation caused by the Corona virus, it is a joy to share with everyone how we have found new ways to keep the faith alive in the small family we live in here in Trivandrum.

We know that the holy week, in which we commemorate the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, is very special for every Christian. We have tried to create a holy atmosphere where we live. During the Corona virus barrier the churches are empty, the believers pray at home. During this time our home shrines are our church, our hearts are our church. With the help of the media we two Sisters together with the family members here have tried to maintain the atmosphere of the Holy Week in the house. Every morning we attended Holy Mass through television, shalom TV. During the holy week, together with the family members, we decorated the Stations of the Cross on the terrace.

A memorable Good Friday

It was a memorable Good Friday. The cross was placed on a table and candles were placed on both sides. We tried to create the atmosphere of the church on the terrace. We came together for the Good Friday liturgy. At 12.30 pm we all gathered on the terrace for the Stations of the Cross. It was very hot in the midday sun, but it was good for Good Friday. The children from this house had written each station on a sheet of paper and stuck it to the terrace wall. There were three children. One child carried the cross and the other two carried the candles. Sr. M. Josy began with an introductory prayer in which she prayed for all the people in the world, especially for those affected by the present catastrophe of the Corona virus. Each member of this family prayed the Stations of the Cross. It was such a sunny day and the heat was unbearable. But in spite of everything, we were all allowed to pray and devoutly spiritually accompany the Savior on the Way of the Cross. It was a deep and special experience. Although we could not go to church, we were allowed to experience the atmosphere of Good Friday here.

Easter Sunday in white dresses

On Easter day we were able to participate in Holy Mass at midnight. We Sisters wore our white dresses and the family members also came with new clothes. So we went “into the church” to participate in the Holy Mass. We turned off all the lights and carried the burning candles in our hands. With much devotion and prayer we participated in the Holy Mass, which was transmitted by television. After Holy Mass we wished the family members blessed and happy Easter and gave them Easter eggs that we had prepared. We had also prepared a plate with some chocolates and gave this to them. This was a new experience for them. Sister M. Josy gave a little message about Easter and the new life in Christ.
We are grateful to God that we were able to experience the joy of Easter here with this family.

In Waynad, Kerala, the sisters were able to celebrate the entire liturgy via television, otherwise they had no other option.

Our sisters in Kerala, Irinjalakuda, were very happy with the Blessed Mother. They had a celebration of Holy Mass in our house chapel on three days of the Triduum: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and also on Easter Sunday. Now our Sisters also have Holy Mass in our house every day with a few people from the surrounding area. There the pastor has received a permit from the police, and so, to their great happiness, they can celebrate Holy Mass every day.

In Tamil Nadu, in Salem, our Sisters had the Easter liturgy in the church with very few people.

In Bangalore, our Sisters were able to participate in the celebration of Holy Communion on Holy Thursday via the Internet. The diocese transmitted the bishop’s mass, and we had an internet connection in the house chapel. It was a beautiful, deep experience that we really celebrated Holy Mass with them. At the end of Holy Mass we were also able to receive Holy Communion.

We were also allowed to celebrate the Easter vigil in our house chapel. A Father from the St. Paul Fathers, our neighboring community, came and gave us this great joy. He also came on Easter Sunday morning and celebrated Holy Mass for us. We can say that we were so richly endowed after all. In this way we were able to spiritually take with us and pray for all our sisters in the wide world who had no opportunity to celebrate Holy Mass; also for the many people in the whole world who are affected by this disease of the Corona virus. We are so grateful to the Blessed Mother for all her help and that we are protected.

We have closed the Shrine in Bangalore for people from outside. We Sisters have held adoration for a few hours. We could not buy flowers for Easter. So the Sisters got creative and decorated in a simple way with the flowers we have in the garden.

The whole country consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and Mary

The Bishops of India together consecrated the whole country of India to the Heart of Jesus and the Immaculata Heart of the Blessed Mother on Easter Sunday at 12:00 p.m. in the intention of the Corona virus. It was transmitted through the Internet and all the communities were to join in. On the same day at 8:00 a.m. all Catholic families were to light a little light in front of their homes and pray for the whole world.

In this way we ask the Risen Savior to send his divine light into this dark situation of the world with the Corona virus, so that the new life of faith may be awakened and the world may believe in the true light of Jesus Christ.