Lent is defined as a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends days before Easter Sunday. It is a common observance in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches.
The last week of Lent is known as the ‘Holy Week’ and begins with Palm Sunday, following the New Testament story, all the way to the crucifixion (commemorated on Good Friday) and the resurrection of Jesus Christ (celebration on Easter Sunday).
However, as the entire world is facing a pandemic, public gatherings and traditions are put on hold. Here, His Holiness Pope Francis addresses Christians in a video message as Holy Week is being observed.
Here is the official translation of the Pope’s video message:
This evening I have the chance to enter your homes in a different way than usual. If you allow me, I would like to have a conversation with you for a few moments, in this time of difficulty and of suffering. I can imagine you in your families, living an unusual life to avoid contagion. I am thinking of the liveliness of children and young people, who cannot go out, attend school, live their lives. I have in my heart all the families, especially those who have a loved one who is sick or who have unfortunately experienced mourning due to the coronavirus or other causes. These days I often think about people who are alone, and for whom it is more difficult to face these moments. Above all I think of the elderly, who are very dear to me.
I cannot forget those who are sick with coronavirus, people who are in hospital. I am aware of the generosity of those who put themselves at risk for the treatment of this pandemic or to guarantee the essential services to society. So many heroes, every day, at every hour! I also remember how many are in financial straits and are worried about work and the future. A thought also goes out to prison inmates, whose pain is compounded by fear of the epidemic, for themselves and their loved ones; I think of the homeless, who do not have a home to protect them.
It is a difficult time for everyone. For many, very difficult. The Pope knows this and, with these words, he wants to tell everyone of his closeness and affection. Let us try, if we can, to make the best use of this time: let us be generous; let us help those in need in our neighbourhood; let us look out for the loneliest people, perhaps by telephone or social networks; let us pray to the Lord for those who are in difficulty in Italy and in the world. Even if we are isolated, thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love. This is what we need today: the creativity of love. This is what is needed today: the creativity of love.
We will celebrate Holy Week in a truly unusual way, which manifests and sums up the message of the Gospel, that of God’s boundless love. And in the silence of our cities, the Easter Gospel will resound. The Apostle Paul says: “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor 5:15). In the risen Jesus, life conquered death. This Paschal faith nourishes our hope. I would like to share it with you this evening. It is the hope of a better time, in which we can be better, finally freed from evil and from this pandemic. It is a hope: hope does not disappoint; it is not an illusion, it is a hope.
Beside each other, in love and patience, we can prepare a better time in these days. Thank you for allowing me into your homes. Make a gesture of tenderness towards those who suffer, towards children, and towards the elderly. Tell them that the Pope is close and pray, that the Lord will soon deliver us all from evil. And you, pray for me. Have a good dinner. See you soon!