This is a Holy Week like no other. Retreats, popular at this time of year, are cancelled. The often packed ceremonies for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday will now be conducted in Churches empty except for the celebrant. Communal prayer and reflection is now a solitary practice.
Nonetheless, online solutions, webcams and websites, live streaming and live chat means we can still make the most of the next few days, even from the confines of our homes. So below is a list of website-linked suggestions and resources. They may help you reflect and pray through these special days, as you struggle to cope with the fall-out from Covid-19, homebound at Easter.
Gardiner St Church: Daily Mass is live-streamed from Gardiner St Church at 11 am. It is followed by a blessing with the cross of Blessed John Sullivan SJ. Click here for the website ».
They will live stream on their website all the Holy Week ceremonies listed below.
- Holy Thursday 7.30 pm: Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Adoration. followed by Watch and Pray at 8.30 pm
- Good Friday 12:00 pm: Stations of the Cross. Followed by the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3 pm. Live stream Prayer Around the Cross starts at 4 pm
- Holy Saturday 9 pm: Easter Vigil
- Easter Sunday 11 am Mass
St Eunan’s Cathedral: The Rosary followed by the Examen is lived streamed every night at 9.15 pm from St Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny. Join Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ in this prayer. Click here for the website».
Clongowes Wood College: This Good Friday the college will stream a “virtual” liturgy, ‘The Way of the Cross’ , with Celine Byrne, from the College Chapel in Clongowes at 7 pm . It will be led by college rector Fr Michael Sheil SJ and the musical director is Cyril Murphy. Click here for the website».
International opera star Celine Byrne has recorded herself singing for this liturgy from her own home, members of The Clongowes Schola have recorded themselves singing the chants and all this is being mixed in a recording studio to create a “ virtual choir” and soloist singing the music of Good Friday.
The visual stimulus for this walk with Christ to Calvary, will be the stunning set of paintings by the renowned Irish artist, Sean Keating which hang in the College Chapel at Clongowes. These Stations of the Cross will chart the journey to Calvary for people as they listen to a commentary at each Station from Staff members, students and parents, accompanied by musical pieces referencing Christ’s suffering. Cyril Murphy says they hope to open up a meditative space “to allow everyone to contemplate Christ’s suffering on this, the most resonant of days for Christians throughout the world. It’s another way of us staying connected by faith”
The Manresa Jesuit Centre for Spirituality: will share videos from the centre over the Easter Triduum. Check Manresa’s Covid-19 page » for details or sign up for their newsletter.
Sacred Space: The online prayer website of the Jesuits in Ireland is offering a 14-day ‘isolation’ retreat » by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds. Using meditations from their two books, Finding God in the Mess and Deeper into the Mess, they have shaped a 14 day retreat around themes loosely based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Each day has a specific theme, a preparatory prayer, an introduction to the themes, three related scripture quotes, some questions for reflection and a closing prayer. People can use this resource in a number of ways:
• follow the programme for the 14 days;
• dip into the themes that speak to you, for example the meditation on fear;
• or use the meditations as daily prayer.
Their annual Lenten retreat, which they host in conjunction with the British podcast prayer site Pray As You Go is available here ». The theme of this year’s retreat is ‘Journeying with Jesus’.
Aidan Mathews: Irish Jesuit Communications asked Aidan Mathews, RTÉ producer, playwright, and poet, to write an online retreat for Lent 2017. He chose the theme of the ‘reign’ or ‘kingdom’ of God as described in Jesus’ parables in the gospel of Matthew (the gospel also used this year 2020). Aidan has previously written and presented a series of Sunday night reflections for radio, based on Matthew’s gospel. His unique, provocative, sometimes startling style that spoke to the hearts of listeners to RTE 1, is happily evident in this six-week Lenten retreat which you could dip into now ».
Gerry O’Hanlon SJ: Is an Irish Jesuit theologian writing here about finding meaning in the coronavirus outbreak in the light of the Easter message.
Ann Guinee is a retreat director with Kairos and a former student support teacher in Crescent College Limerick, now completing her doctorate on the Ignatian spirituality.
This year during Lent she kept a faith diary as he journaled her way through the Covid-19 crisis.
The pandemic stirs up questions for people of faith. They struggle to make sense of the catastrophic virus that has brought much suffering and death to so many people in such a short space of time.
Ann Guinee’s personal reflections are based on the topsy-turvey riot of emotions and experiences that most of us have been going through in one way or another since the start of this crisis. She shines the light of Ignatian spirituality and her own faith on these experiences and you can share in her insights by clicking here ».
Kerry Weber, a journalist with the Jesuit magazine America, composed a special prayer for those suffering this Holy Week as a result of Covid-19. You can pray it here ».
PODCASTS and VIDEOS
God in the Wilderness: Taking account of the current concern caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19), Mike Drennan SJ reflects on what it means to find God in the wilderness. Click on the video link below ».
Mad Messiah: Edmond Grace SJ has written a comic saga of poetry in four parts entitled Mad Messiah ». Irish Jesuit Communications have recorded Edmond reading his work which he does in a variety of accents that lend another layer of meaning to his richly symbolic verse. It’s poetry like you’ve never heard before – a funny, provocative, moving, clever commentary on modern life and the ancient quest to encounter the living God, who shows up in Edmond’s work as the paradoxical figure of Jesus Christ.
Making Good Decisions: Holy Week is a time for pondering and sometimes making choices or new beginnings. The late Michael Paul Gallagher SJ recorded 8 one-minute videos as part of an 8-step guide to making good decisions or leaning to discern well, as St Ignatius would have it. The course is delivered to participants by email over 30 days. You can sign up for the online course here ».
Women of the Cross: In a series of reflections by British Jesuit James Hanvey » that focus on seven strong women in the life of Christ, some of whom were there for him in his darkest hour and bore witness to his resurrection.
A Unique Vision in Holy Week: Paddy Greene SJ has an interesting take on Jesus vision during his transfiguration and its relationship to his agony in Gethsemane. Click here ».
Life has become more stressful for most people since the first case of Covid-19 was announced just around the beginning of Lent. We’ve been told that many frontline workers are experiencing a deterioration in their mental health and well-being and this may well be true of many of the general population also. Author and jesuit.ie blogger Gavin Thomas Murphy specialises in writing about mental health and spirituality. He has written a number of blog posts to help us to return to consolation and fullness of life during this holy week.
- Transcendent model of reality: The Bursting out in Praise Triangle, based on research and reflection, is an easy to understand model of spirituality and mental health.
- Vigilant of the ultimate gloom: A poetic reflection on a depressive episode to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.
- Endurance through pain: A contemplation on the faithfulness of Mary to her son before and after his resurrection, to accompany people in the creation of a hope-filled future.
- Emotional health: The ‘mysterious duel’ of mourning and dancing becomes a ‘duet’ that encourages an affective life full of depth and meaning.
- The embrace: A Visio Divina, inspired by The Magnificat, on being close while having to keep our distance.
American psychologists recommend us to keep a gratitude journal to manage stress and stay positive, according to Gavin Thomas Murphy. They also tell us that we can become more grateful and spiritual after a period of quarantine or isolation. Below is another blog post from him on an ancient story of gratitude and how we can respond with generosity during this time of uncertainty,
- An ancient story of gratitude: The interaction between the servant of Abraham and the beautiful Rebekah high-light gratitude and its dynamic response.