By Fr. Bruno Favero, OMI
Since confinement and the curfew, spiritual activities have slowed down at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Mission of Elinkin. A ‘Rosary Marathon’ – 24 hours of continuous recitation of the rosary – took place on March 25 from midnight to midnight. The parishioners and Oblates participated in it from home, joining the river of intercessors in this pandemic time.
But, alas, how can one live the Holy Week with no live-streaming facilities, no gatherings, no big prayer events and, without the customary participation of the people?
Nevertheless, I left with my backpack to go to Carabane Island, the historic place where the evangelization of Casamance – the area of Senegal south of the Gambia – began, with its beautiful church, recently restored and consecrated.
Holy Thursday was celebrated behind closed doors with three young people, and, since the curfew started at 8 pm, there was no way of doing Eucharistic adoration. The next day, Good Friday, with the same three young people, I began the Stations of the Cross around 9 am, going from house to house, each house a Station. We began at one corner of the village, about 4 kilometers from the Church. Throughout our walking journey, there was joy in meeting, praying, sharing, and often sitting in the courtyard of the houses, at the prescribed social distancing.
Around six in the evening, we completed the route, covering almost 10 kilometers in total. As for me, what was more important was that I was able to meet all the families. I blessed their houses, and prayed over them.
Even at the cemetery, there was a Station on the Way of the Cross, to be in communion with those who have gone before us. After I thanked the three young people and sent them home, I remained in the church for the Liturgy of Good Friday. Alone in the usual silence of the place, with peace of heart and bearing with me all the people we met along the Way of the Cross, I thought of St. Eugene on Good Friday. I remembered all of those around the world who have died of the pandemic. I also bore the suffering and loneliness of the sick.
Good Friday in the time of the coronavirus… the mystery of life surprises us, but the mission continues, and becomes more urgent than ever.