Easter message from Sr. Miriam Altenhofen SSpS – General Councilor

Dear Sisters, dear Friends!

The Stone is gone….

Can you imagine, you come to a grave where you want to visit a recently buried friend and you find that grave is opened? The stone in front of the cave is gone. The tomb is empty. Something like that happened to the first disciples, men and women alike. After the terrible loss of their beloved friend Jesus, now the emptiness of the tomb. That´s like the black hole – sucking in all of life’s energies.

For Mary Magdalene and the others, it must have felt like the end of the world. Not even the body is left. They are devastated. Mary Magdalene asks: Where have you taken him? With the cross and the empty tomb, it seems all hope has been smashed. Yet, it is not like that. The cross turns into the symbol of our salvation and the empty tomb becomes the symbol of a radical new beginning. When you think, it is the end, it is just the start of something new.

Since weeks we are in Italy in a “lockdown” because of Coronavirus.

While for us here in Italy, we are seeing some light at the end of the road, for other areas in our world the worst is yet to come. Our heart reaches out especially to so many persons in camps and war-like situations where basic hygienic and medical facilities are missing.

This year indeed, we are celebrating Holy Week and Easter under special “Corona” – circumstances. Where is God calling us in all this? How does this suffering get transformed into new life and a new perspective?

Surely, it is not in our power. It is grace.

No one has seen it, and yet we believe it, that new life is to come.  Mary Magdalene and the apostles have experienced it and they witness: Jesus has risen, God raised him up from the dead. Hallelujah! There is a power stronger than every evil, every virus, violence and death! It is God’s love – and this love is poured out also into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, as it is written in Rom 5:5. Sometimes this happens even within suffering.

Jesus after his resurrection, is present in a different way and invites us to open our hearts and let them be filled with joy, faith, hope and love. So that also we can go out and say: He is risen!

Early Christians expressed this experience through a liturgical tradition: the Easter laughter, the “Risus paschalis”. Today this tradition is mostly forgotten, however it remains very meaningful. The Easter laughter symbolizes the victory of life over death, of light over darkness. Let’s try it during this Easter season. Because: The Stone is gone…. and God has the last word! Hallelujah!

In the name of our team I wish you all a very blessed and joy-filled Easter with a lot of Easter-laughter!