Cardinal pens inspiring Easter message of hope: ‘Risen Lord remains present among the faithful’
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April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dear Sisters and Brothers!
Not one of us has ever experienced a comparable situation as we are facing today. Because of the terrible Corona epidemic, public life is drastically restricted. We can no longer celebrate the liturgy in church on Sundays and even now in the Holy Week and at Easter.
It is true that we try to make do with telecasts of Holy Masses on television. But this makeshift solution cannot be a substitute for our physical presence before the Face of God in the midst of a contemplative but also joyful congregation, which joins in the Easter jubilation of the redeemed. The physical celebration of the liturgy corresponds to our social nature. And therefore God does not meet us in abstract thoughts, but visibly in the world and especially in Jesus, Who said of Himself: “He who sees Me sees the Father” (Jn 14:9).
The Risen Lord remains present among the faithful in the audible word of preaching, the visible signs of the Sacraments, and the communion of the Church that can be experienced. The words of Sacred Scripture show us, in these times of a ban on human contact for hygienic reasons and of regulations to keep at a distance, what we lack and what we hope will soon be overcome.
In the Early Church, it was clear what followed from God's Incarnation and the physical closeness to Jesus.
Thus, the disciples of Jesus tell us: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life [Christ, the Word made Flesh]. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:1-4).
Many of our fellow Christians, past and present, did not and do not have the opportunity (for example, in times of persecution or other unfavorable circumstances) to participate in the life of the congregations and in the celebration of the liturgy with physical presence. Of course, God has not withdrawn from them the grace that they receive from Him in spiritual communion in a rich measure. We can now also read Sacred Scripture at home, pray together, renew inwardly the acts of faith, hope and love, re-evaluate and, if possible, put our relationship with family and friends on a better footing, make an inner conversion, repent of our sins and resolve to confess them at the next opportunity.
We must keep alive in ourselves the longing to assist at Holy Mass and receive the Sacraments in the church again soon.
I would like to include you all, though unknown to me, in my prayers. We form a worldwide prayer community because we belong to the “Church of the Living God” (1 Tim 3:15).
Our situation is spiritually a little comparable to that of the disciples who were still fearfully gathered behind closed doors on Easter Sunday. But just as then, He enters into the midst of His faithful today and says to each one individually and to all of us: “Peace be with you.” Then the Crucified and Risen Lord shows us His pierced hands and His side pierced by the lance.
And may this also be the cause of the same reaction in our hearts today as it did then among the disciples whom Jesus Himself freed from their uncertainties and doubts: “Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (Jn 20:20).
I wish us all the joy of the Risen One.
Blessed and Happy Easter!
Yours, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Rome
Translation by LifeSite's Dr. Maike Hickson