Today is Holy Saturday.

This is the day the church throughout the world typically meditates on the death of Jesus and prepares for the evening celebration of the Great Vigil of Easter celebrating Jesus’ victory over death and the resurrection. Easter typically gathers millions of people together in our churches.

But not this year.

In most places, gathering together tonight or tomorrow for Easter isn’t possible due to the risks posed by the Covid-19 illness.

This is a difficult and challenging times, especially for Catholics. The fast that many of us have had from the celebration of the Eucharist over these weeks is especially hard to continue at Easter. This pandemic and the suffering it has caused can be a deep challenge to the practice of our faith – perhaps more than we have ever had to endure.

It is a difficult time in our faith, but we can still celebrate all that Easter is and means. We can rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death. We can lift up in prayer our frustrations, our difficulties, our sorrows and place them symbolically at the tomb of Jesus today. Many may be in mourning this Easter over the loss of loved ones to the Covid-19 illness or other circumstances.

We can bring that to the tomb of Jesus today.

Many are unsure and anxious about the future, about finances and caring for their families.

We can bring that to the tomb of Jesus today.

The deep grief we feel not being able to gather with our church communities, or even extended families –

We can bring that to the tomb of Jesus today.

We can in our minds and hearts take those things – our heavy burdens, our crosses, and imagine we are placing them at the tomb of Jesus.

We know that this will not make those things suddenly go away, but we are an Easter people of hope.

We believe that Jesus, who carried the burdens of us all can carry these things with us.

Because we know that life returns. Life prevails.

We know that spring is arriving and the earth renews itself.

Life returns. Life prevails.

We know that these difficult days have a time limit – even if we don’t know precisely what it is. The ‘tombs’ of our distancing and quarantine will end.

Life returns. Life prevails.

We know that the dawn always comes. We know – even though we can’t be together for it – Easter comes right on time, and that God is never late.

Life returns. Life prevails. Resurrection dawns.

These are hallmarks of our faith in the resurrection of Christ, which the church-in-exile proclaims boldly tonight and in the coming 50 days.

If you have the opportunity to observe or listen to either the papal liturgy of the Easter Vigil or perhaps a diocesan or parish live stream of it, or of Easter Mass tomorrow morning, I pray that it will be a moment of new life in the journey of faith we are all on together, yet separate.

Faithfulness beyond the grave,

Love stronger than death.

We make a new beginning and light the Easter Candle.

A light for our world and our own lives which will never be extinguished.

God give you peace!

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As Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I have the opportunity to record video reflections on the readings of the Scriptures proclaimed at daily Mass. I do so as part of larger group of colleagues at the Conference, along with lay and ordained leaders from around the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the readings for the life of faith today and to share them here, along with the written text of the reflections. To view these video reflections for past and upcoming celebrations of the Eucharist, visit the USCCB website.