As we approach the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil/Sunday), you are encouraged to take part in the ceremonies prayerfully. This experience that we all share – which has many challenges for us – could be wasted very easily. But God is moving here; His Spirit is active. We can live this experience in three ways: we could live it as a cause of suffering for ourselves or for others, or enduring the tensions and difficulties others cause to us, whatever our age or life situation; we could live it neutrally, allowing these weeks to pass by to no advantage; or we could experience this desert as Jesus did, as a place where the Spirit is living and active. God wants to do some good work within us in these weeks; each of us; no matter our age or state or condition of life. So, join us in prayer and live the mystery of Christ’s great work of our redemption.
Confession and Perfect Contrition
Usually, many of us would want to make our confession at Easter – the “Easter duty”, as it used to be called. More of us again know the frequent consolation of the sacrament, especially at Easter and for the feast of the Divine Mercy. As public health restrictions prevent us from meeting for this purpose, you are encouraged to make a “perfect act of contrition”, with a resolution to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the first available opportunity. We here at the Cathedral will find ways to make confession generously available as soon as public health restrictions make that feasible. What is a “perfect act of contrition”?
Perfect contrition is sorrow and detestation of sin arising out of the love of God. Imperfect contrition is sorrow and detestation for sin arising from a consideration of the ugliness of sin or out of the fear of hell. In this regard, when we sin, we may more often be contrite because the sin causes disgust within us. But we may also be contrite because of our awareness of the eternal consequences of our sins. This is contrition, but it is called “imperfect” because it is motivated not by our consideration of God and His beauty, from which we fall short by sin, but by our awareness of the ugliness of our own actions, in thought, word or deed. Contrition is both good and necessary for us to go to confession, but we must aim to have “perfect” contrition if we are to really grow in grace, virtue and the love of God. This is the purpose and aim of confession, not merely the confession of sins. It is called the sacrament of reconciliation because we are joined to God’s embrace, and placed in right relationship with our brothers and sisters. To perfect our contrition, we should think of God’s love, His suffering for us, all that He has done for our good, His goodness, beauty and truth in Himself. In effect, we must reflect on Christ in his goodness and our contrition for son should arise from that. This kind of contrition is described as “perfect” not because it can be flawless but because it is motivated by the right movement of the soul. It is sorrow for the love of God more than disgust at our sin. Saying the Act of Sorrow that we use in confession can help us to have this kind of contrition. Think about each phrase in the act of sorrow that you know, and allow your soul to move along with it. Make a firm commitment to never repeat the sin for which you are sorry, and resolve to go to confession at the first opportunity available to you.
What can I do to mark Easter in “lockdown”?
HOLY THURSDAY: Join in for our solemn vigil at the altar of repose on Holy Thursday. This will begin with the Bishop’s rosary and Examen at An Tobar Domhain at about the usual time of 9.15pm, after the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (8pm). NET will keep vigil after that, and during the last hour, the priests will keep vigil.
GOOD FRIDAY: Have a crucifix to hand to join in the adoration of the cross. You could display the crucifix in your home, on an altar similar to a May altar, lighting the candles when the cross is adored by the Bishop in the Cathedral, and then making your own act of veneration at home. Perhaps you could even display the crucifix in the the window of your home that afternoon – no candles! (Celebration of the Lord’s Passion – 3pm)
Join the Stations of the Cross from the Cathedral at 12 noon, or find a reflection on the Stations on the internet.
EASTER VIGIL: Prepare yourself spiritually for the Easter Vigil, being ready to move from one moment to the next. Have a candle ready to light in a darkened room: this could be lit safely when the priest sings the second “lumen Christi” (the light of Christ), and left lit in a safe place. Maybe you even have your baptismal candle still that you could light. Perhaps a candle could be placed safely at your window or outside your home? The Liturgy of the Word is very rich on this night. It reminds us of God’s gracious dealing with us, from the creation to the redemption in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is worth listening reflectively to it. At the renewal of baptismal promises, we can respond at home to the questions, with clear voices and unafraid! And, of course, we can make a heartfelt spiritual communion as the Sacrament is renewed. We must pray that we can come together again very soon. (Easter Vigil: 9 pm)
EASTER SUNDAY: Perhaps we could place a sprig of spring branches and flowers on our doors to herald that Christ is Risen. (Sunday Mass Times: 8 am, 10 am and 12 noon)