Archbishop Pérez of Philadelphia: We are still a people of hope!
Recently, Christians throughout the world proclaimed, “Jesus is Risen, Alleluia!” The resurrection of our Savior is the defining event of our faith. It is the wellspring of our eternal hope that the purity of God’s love flowing through us will overcome all things. Given the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic on our global society, that message of hope could not have arrived at a better time.
The arrival of Easter this year found us all living in a surreal landscape. The worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus has dramatically and suddenly impacted the normal course of our lives over the past several weeks. As the number of cases, the danger to our health and the death toll have all grown, we have been starkly reminded that every life is truly a precious gift from God.
We have been starkly reminded that every life is truly a precious gift from God.
Our Lenten experience this year was far from typical. Living out isolation, quarantine, social distancing and the suspension of public Masses were unimaginable concepts on Ash Wednesday. While necessary for the preservation of public health, these measures have negatively affected people financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In these times of uncertainty, I know there is a temptation to sink into despair.
When Lent began, I asked Catholics across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to keep their eyes fixed on Christ the crucified and Christ the merciful as a means of inspiration to encounter the world with charity and good will. Now that Easter has arrived, we must keep our eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ the resurrected. He inspires us to receive and to give a love that is boundless. This love is pure. It does not discriminate. It is invincible. Neither contagion nor death can conquer it.
It has been a painful, confusing and trying time, but in Christ and his triumph on the cross, God’s great love for us prevails. That love transcends our human understanding and is more powerful than we can comprehend. It will never fail us regardless of where life finds us. Right now, life finds us in a particularly difficult time that has slowed our world to a near stop. Yet it has also given us an opportunity to rediscover those things that are truly important.
These ominous days will pass. We shall overcome them as a united Christian family.
So, during this Easter season, let us look to God with renewed hearts and minds more so than ever before. May his love flow through us and inspire us to encounter one another with tenderness and mercy. May that same love also strengthen us each day with the resolve to see value in ourselves and in one another. A new day will dawn and we can rebuild through him who makes all things possible.
Please join me in praying for those who have died. May they rest in peace. Please join me in praying for those in mourning. May they find comfort. Please join me in praying for those who are sick. May they be healed. Please join me in praying for our first responders and health care providers who are on the front lines every day battling this virus, along with our government officials who have been working diligently to ensure our safety. May they be strengthened and protected in the course of their daily work to overcome the current national health crisis.
All of us owe a debt of gratitude to those working to impede the spread of the coronavirus and eliminate the threat it poses. I extend my personal thanks to them and ask you to join me in that sentiment.
These ominous days will pass. We shall overcome them as a united Christian family. Until we can come together again physically as communities of faith, we can remain united through the blessings of technology and social media. In Philadelphia, we have done so with a virtual Lenten retreat, live broadcasts of the celebration of Mass and many other prayerful initiatives. These initiatives have created fresh opportunities for the faithful to reignite the domestic church and strengthen their faith lives at home.
Easter brings hope to our lives and inspires us to take actions that build a better community and a better world through our interactions with one another. May this Easter season bring you peace and joy. Most importantly, may it strengthen our mutual resolve as a people of hope.