‘Easter brings hope amid pandemic’

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    BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and WENDELL VIGILIA

    PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday urged Filipinos to draw inspiration from the Resurrection of Christ and its message of hope amid suffering brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    The President, in his Easter Sunday message, expressed belief that “the promise of salvation will inspire us to look ahead for new beginnings and move forward with stronger faith and compassion for others.”

    Duterte’s message comes amid a continuing spike rise in COVID-19 infections, a drop in available hospitals and isolation beds, and the world problem on vaccine supply.

    Vice President Leni Robredo also touched on hope in her Easter message, reminding Filipinos that Easter brings the message of hope “during these extraordinary times of darkness.”

    Pope Francis, at an Easter vigil in Rome on Saturday, said he hoped the dark times of the pandemic would end and that people could rediscover “the grace of everyday life.”

    On Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar, the Pope delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

    In the Philippines yesterday, churches nationwide held the official opening of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.

    The event was marked by the simultaneous opening of “Jubilee Doors” in 537 pre-identified pilgrimage parish churches, basilicas, and cathedrals in the country’s 85 dioceses.

    Robredo urged Filipinos to draw inspiration from Christ’s love and sacrifice, saying it only proves that God is one with the people in their sufferings and tribulations.

    She said the assurance that the country will eventually surpass the COVID-19 crisis strengthens every Filipino who will start again and rise up through their faith in Christ.

    At the Vatican leading an Easter vigil service scaled down due to COVID-19, the Pope said he hoped the dark times of the pandemic would end and that people could rediscover “the grace of everyday life.”

    This year has been the second consecutive Easter that all papal services are being attended by only about 200 people in a secondary altar of St. Peter’s Basilica instead of the nearly 10,000 that the largest church in Christendom can hold.

    The service began two hours earlier than usual so that participants could get home before a 10 p.m. curfew in Rome, which, like the rest of Italy, is under tough lockdown restrictions during the Easter weekend.

    At the start of the service, the basilica was in darkness except for the flames from candles held by participants to signify the darkness in the world before Jesus. As the pope, cardinals and bishops processed to the altar and a cantor chanted three times, the basilica’s lights were turned on.

    In his homily, Francis, marking the ninth Easter season of his pontificate, said the festival brought with it the hope for renewal on a personal as well as a global level.

    “In these dark months of the pandemic, let us listen to the Risen Lord as he invites us to begin anew and never lose hope,” Francis said. — With Gerard Naval and Reuters