In these difficult days of the Coronavirus, we might have more time free for reading. Many people are going to miss not having access to the great liturgies of Holy Week this year. Hopefully, you will be able to follow it via the webcam. You might also find some of the articles in this month’s Reality ideal for re-creating the atmosphere of Holy Week when we are living in a confined space. Fr Michael Dunleavy OP who introduced us in the Christmas number of Reality to the work of the painter best known as Fra Angelico, otherwise Blessed John of Fiesole, a Dominican friar, tells how one picture of the Crucified Lord he painted for his home monastery in Fiesole, near Florence. It was lost for several centuries before being rediscovered and restored.
One of the most common devotions for Good Friday once upon a time, was a series of short sermons with music and prayer based on the Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. St Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists was a popular preacher and a prolific author of devotional books. Among them were several dedicated to the Passion. The American Redemptorist theologian and writer, Fr Dennis Billy, writes on how Alphonsus used the Seven Last Words as subjects for mediation. If you cannot take part in a Way of the Cross or other service for Good Friday, Fr Dennis’s article will provide you with rich food for thought and prayer. Our liturgist, Maria Hall, writes on the postures and gesture of Holy Week. Some of these you might be able to practice at home despite all the cautions about social distance and passing on viruses.
Fr Colm Meaney sends us another “Letter from the Philippines.” His community in Dumagete provide chaplains for the local prison. Colm invited the prisoners to come one Sunday to the monastery church to sing and share their testimonies during the Masses. There was a long interval in the afternoon, and he invited them to use the television in the community room to watch sports programmes or a movie. To his surprise, they said were happy just watching ordinary life around them, something they could not do in jail. We continue our series on St Clement Hofbauer for his bi centenary. This month’s episode is entitled “Pilgrim and Hermit.” Clement often made the journey from his homeland to Rome on foot -about 1,000 kilometres each way! He also spent at least two periods as a hermit, once close to his hometown and the second near Rome. One of his fellow pilgrims and hermits, Peter Kunzmann, will eventually become the first Redemptorist brother to be professed north of the Alps.
Our usual article contributors are there of course – Fr Peter McVerry reflects on how we can understand the death of Jesus today, while Jim Deeds reflects on darkness and light, so much part of our Easter mystery and Carmel Wynne asks if you have made your will? Finally, a thought from Reflections by the theologian NT Wright: “Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.” This Easter, more than ever, we need reminding of such hope.