The Easter Triduum 2021 was celebrated in a virtual space, and that made us reflect on the need for an “Easter of closeness”, a need that is felt even more in difficult times like these. The cold screen of our computers had to become a “beating heart” to express that we are a living community that is open and has no barriers. This helped us to see the present times in the light of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.
We tried our best to respond to the present situation with tenacity and not allow ourselves to be constrained by it, but rather to seek new solutions. We took a positive view and exploited the present difficulties to activate new emotional and relational vibrations with gestures of solidarity and cooperation at a distance.
The focus of our meetings were the concerns raised in the 2021 Letter of the year “The wisdom of goodness” addressed to us by Maite Uribe, president the Teresian Association. It invites us “to recognise [the goodness of God] as the source of our love and our style of being gentle yet firm, with which we want to bring comfort and hope to our world”.
At each meeting, there was a short introduction by Fiorella Gargano and some videos and meaningful songs to help us create a climate of welcome and an atmosphere of recollection and prayer.
On Holy Thursday, Elisa Estévez López gave a reflection that used an attentive reading of current history and the world economic, social and political crisis caused by the pandemic, in order to help us think about the need to discover the “emergence of a kind of humanity in solidarity that generously welcomes and cares”. It reaches out to the peripheries and shows an “attitude of creative resistance when faced with adversity”. It permeates reality by recognising the sacred that lies therein.
On this particular Holy Thursday, Elisa helped us to look again at Jesus bending down to wash his disciples’ feet, serving them with love. We can see the goodness of God manifest in him, and his love for our frail and vulnerable humanity.
Together we ask God to grant us a generous heart so that we, like Jesus, may be gentle in our gestures, show kindness in our eyes and be cordial in the words we use. At the end of the session, Elisa invited us to pray and to bring to mind a person with whom we have had difficulties so that we can draw near to them in some specific way.
On Good Friday, the conversation with Mentxu Ibarra was inspired by another prayer of intercession in Maite's letter that asks God to grant us a compassionate heart.
She spoke of the central role of the heart in the Bible. The heart sums up a person and is the locus of our decision-making and the engine of our actions. She invited us to contemplate the merciful heart of God and to remember Pedro Poveda who was a witness of mercy through the compassionate and attentive care he extended to anyone living in the geographical and existential peripheries.
Mentxu’s prayerful reflection was profound, specific and demanding. She led us through various passages from the Old and New Testament where God is “slow to anger and abounding in love”. She reminded us of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us to “be merciful as my Father is merciful”.
In following the example of Jesus and the prophets, we are witnesses of a tradition that is rooted in fidelity to the Word of God, and we are invited to renewal in openness and attentiveness “to the good that the Spirit spreads in the midst of frailty”.
Holy Saturday was a very intense and moving day. The morning conversation with Francesca Cocchini prompted us to stop, to pause, to observe and to go to the sources of the silence of that Saturday. It helped us to understand Mary, through the Gospel of Luke, and to be moved with a feeling of awe. With Mary close to us in her great humanity, we experience the sense of sorrow that she and Joseph felt when their twelve-year-old son was lost, but was then found in the temple after three days of painful searching. Mary asked him, “why have you done this to us?”. Jesus’ reply speaks also to us – “Do you not know that I am about my Father's business?”
Francesca reminded us that we too, like Mary, can go through this Holy Saturday as tradition says, “keeping the faith more firmly”. We can also help those people in our times who are filled with fear and may have lost hope.
On Saturday afternoon, Juani Romera guided us in the art of discernment. By virtue of the Spirit, it makes us “architects” of a future that is yet to be born. We ask for an understanding heart in order to discern and hope in times of uncertainty.
In this year of pandemic wilderness, we must not let ourselves be overwhelmed by an emotional storm. Juani recommended an interior spiritual attitude of choices produced by the motions, fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit. We should follow the example of people who paved the way in pursuing paths of hope. Uncertainty, Juani stressed, can be converted into the salt of life. It can be an opportunity, a path to be explored, an adventure of faith and freedom.
On Easter Sunday we met together in an explosion of joy and enthusiasm that was visible in the faces and expressions of so many participants. Our online participation had been a very fulfilling experience.
The Easter message from Paola Palagi (TA sector director in Italy) and Giuseppe Sajeva (president of ACIT-Italy) made us all feel members of the great Teresian Association family, a community that helps to keep each person’s flame burning, the light that comes to us from the Risen Christ. Space was given for that love that is given without reserve and that teaches us the art of making a new beginning.
It was a marvellous gathering for all of us. It aroused our interest because it involved the whole person through the wonder and charm of the music, videos and words of the speakers. They offered their reflections in a way that awakened feelings that could unify the senses, heart and mind so that we could come out of ourselves and go beyond.
We made our own the prayer of Pedro Poveda: “May I think what you want me to think; may I want what you want me to want; may I say what you want me to say; may I do what you want me to do”. In so doing, the Teresian Association community was able to use technological means to open new paths, to try to understand current history and the innovations it presents, and to be prophets and witnesses of hope secure in the Risen Christ and sustained by the strength of fellowship.
Mirella Marino, Italia.
TA Translators Team.
Illustrated with mosaics from Marko Ivan Rupnick sj.