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Holy Week & Easter during RMO period

Christians all over the world, specifically Catholics, just celebrated the Easter Triduum over the weekend.

When the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) was extended the first time from 31 March until 14 April, I was crushed because it meant we would not be able to celebrate this important time in our faith together as a community of brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is to document how COVID-19 has affected our celebration of faith, apart from the fact that we could not go to church for Masses but only joined via live streaming. This is also to serve as a future reminder that we should appreciate the richness of the Sacrements and not take our faith for granted again…

And so the Triduum began on Maundy Thursday. On this night, we remember the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing the feet of his apostles. Due to COVID-19, and the importance of social distancing, the foot washing part was not done. (Although some families do opt to do the foot washing among family members that live together during the RMO.) After the mass, holy hour/adoration of the Blessed Sacrement was also done via live streaming.

On Good Friday, the last Friday of Lent, the last Station of the Cross was done via live stream and at the service where we remember the death of Jesus on the cross, the veneration of the cross is not done, except individually in our respective homes with our own crosses, while following the live stream.

On Saturday night, the grandest celebration of the Easter Vigil, when Christ rose from death, churches worldwide were empty and we can only participate via the live stream mass. The night that is rich with symbols of fire, water and light… could only be celebrated to the best of our abilities in our own homes.

To conform my surroundings to how it would be celebrated if we were in Church, I switched off all the lights at home where I was streaming the mass and lighted my candle after the Easter Candle was lighted, followed by the Exsultet.

Save for a dim yellow light from another part of the house, I listened to the seven Old Testament readings attentively and thanked God for the opportunity to listen to ALL of them instead of selected ones only (as is the norm at other times, especially if there were many people to be baptized).

When the Alleluia was intoned and the church bells rung, followed by the Gloria and the altar was set up, I switched on all the lights and also my altar light. It was a great reminder that Christ is our Light and He has risen! Of course, there was no baptism due to the current situation, but we had the blessing and sprinkling of the Holy Water and renewal of our baptismal promise. On my end, I signed myself with Holy Water and lit my candle for the renewal.

Alas, that was the best I was able to replicate since I did not have incense at home… and I have not received Holy Communion since the RMO began almost a month ago. But in faith, we believe that Christ is present with us and we make the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer during the Sacrament of the Eucharist every time we join the live stream masses.

Given the circumstances we are in now, I cannot be thankful enough for the graces to be found while joining the live stream masses, provided one truly participates in it as opposed to just “watching” it like you would any other video. One good that has come out of this is that I have committed the Spiritual Act of Communion prayer to memory by practice. Another is, I was able to join daily masses ever since the RMO as my “commute” to the altar was literally a few steps away. But the best thing that I have found during this period is, without a doubt, the closest thing to having Padre Pio’s gift of bilocation! Just with a few clicks, I can opt to go anywhere in the world for Mass – LIVE!

And that was how I celebrated Maundy Thursday in Kuching, Good Friday in KL and Easter Vigil in Brunei. On Easter Sunday, I joined the live stream mass of my local parish in Bintulu.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! CHRIST is Risen! HE has conquered Death! HE will conquer this pandemic.

Here’s to a JOYFUL EASTER SEASON!!! – in spite of the RMO being extended for another 2 weeks from today (15 April) until 28 April.

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