For the first time in 30 years, the Christian holiday returns to the civil calendar. On April 21st all schools in the country will remain closed. The initiative is due to the first Catholic woman parliamentarian, Gloria Jharna Sarker.
"All the Gospels highlight the role of women, Mary of Magdala and the others, as the first witnesses of the resurrection," said the Pope. "Let us allow ourselves, therefore, to reach out from the consoling message of Easter and wrap ourselves in its glorious light, which dissipates the darkness of fear and sadness. The Risen Jesus walks beside us. He manifests himself to those who invoke and love him."
During the "mother of all vigils", Francis says that Easter is "the feast of tombstones taken away, rocks rolled aside. God takes away even the hardest stones against which our hopes and expectations crash: death, sin, fear, worldliness."
In his Urbi et Orbi message, Francis cited conflicts and tensions in the world, from the Middle East and Africa to the Americas. "Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow."
Francis expressed his closeness to the people and all the victims of the attacks.
The "new crosses of today" at the center of the meditations, first of all migrants and exploited women and children. Francis prays for "the people who do not have the comfort of faith", "the consecrated who, along the way, have forgotten their first love", "the Church, your bride, who feels continually assailed from within and from without. "
Francis celebrated the ‘in coena Domini’ Mass in a prison in Velletri washing the feet of 12 inmates. "It is true that in life there are problems: we quarrel among ourselves . . . but this must be a thing that passes, a passing thing, because in our hearts there must always be the love to serve others, of being in the service of others."
Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass, which precedes the beginning of the Easter Triduum. To the priests Francis proposes faces of the "crowd" that surrounds, follows, admires Jesus. "In the soul of the people the desire to follow Jesus is awakened, arousing admiration, discernment".
Two months after the signing of the important document on "Human Fraternity", the "House of the Abrahamic family" and a fund to finance cultural activities on coexistence were founded. The search for a tolerant Islam, which avoids Wahhabism and Western liberalism. The pontiff has aroused much curiosity among Muslims. But there are still situations of violence and humiliation towards Christian workers.
During Holy Week, by praying "the Our Father, we can ask for one of these graces: to live our days for the glory of God, that is to live with love; to know how to entrust ourselves to the Father in trials and to say 'dad' to the Father and to find forgiveness and the courage to forgive in enountering the Father. Francis again recalled the fire of Notre-Dame: "the work of reconstruction: it can be a choral work, for the praise and glory of God".
Card Ravasi notes that “at a religious level the dialogue between the official Church and the so-called underground Church has begun,” so "What will happen during the Expo will be a different kind of dialogue, purely cultural. Its task is to create an atmosphere in which it is possible to speak a little more about possible exchange, not only in the religious sphere, but also in the fields of art, culture and scientific research."
Disbelief and sadness at the "terrible fire that devastated the cathedral of Notre Dame, a symbol of Christianity in France and the world".
Persecution and martyrdom are signs of today's Christians. In Holy Week, we should remember our commitment to evangelization. Even as a minority.
Francis met with members of Italy’s National Amateur League, a football (soccer) association, on the 60th anniversary of its foundation, telling them that overcoming “all the walls that unjustly divide people” is a goal that can be achieved “by promoting the involvement and appreciation of everyone on the basis of a team spirit that is the true hope of humanity.”
In Lanzhou another priest forcibly taken away. A church destroyed in Xiangtao (Hubei). Underground priests do not feel safe: they can disappear at any time. The faithful are holding a sit-in from this morning in front of the local government office.