There was a exceptional moment today at the Holy House of Loreto. As I have been doing daily, I joined the recitation of the rosary inside the Holy House in the presence of the papal delegate for the shrine, Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin and several priests of the shrine who pray the decades of the rosary in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French and English.

The historical statue of Our Lady of Loreto was present today without her colorful robe, the way all pilgrims usually see her. I took these photos from the television.


Just a note today – have tried to make this a quiet Holy Saturday, a day in which I tried to find time to think through how I have experienced the Triduum.

We are in the splendid isolation of our homes instead of participating in the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and today, Holy Saturday, in our parishes with family members and close friends. The Triduum, as we know, is composed of the three solemn, sad days that lead up to the most glorious day on the calendar, the Resurrection!

How hard it will be not to celebrate publicly tomorrow, to be with family and friends, to greet and thank our pastor for all the well-prepared liturgies of days past! We will miss the beauty of Easter Mass of the Resurrection, the beautifully decorated sanctuaries, the happy faces of those who, like us, survived Lent and who, after Mass, will go home to a happy family brunch and perhaps, if there are young ones, an Easter egg hunt!

That has been put on hold by an invisible force stronger than our will power or heartfelt desires. The virus is like the wind – you can’t see it but you see its powerful, devastating results.

This unwanted period of quarantine is undoubtedly teaching us many lessons about ourselves and surely has given us more time for introspection, for thinking about what – about who – is really meaningful in our lives. We will have learned – are learning – life is not about possession but relationships, about family, about spending time with those we love, about transmitting (and receiving) values.

I think we will look back and realize that perhaps we have taken our faith for granted sometimes, just as we may have taken family members and friends for granted.

Losing the possibility to congregate in church for Mass and above all to receive the Eucharist, made us realize how we took it for granted that we were free to go to Mass. These days and weeks will have been a life-changing time, but so will all the chances we had online to go to Mass, to participate in dozens of liturgies and rosaries and prayer services, if we so chose!

In all that I have done online in the past days, two moments stand out: an hour with relics of the Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and last night’s Via Crucis with Pope Francis, his master of liturgical ceremonies and those who carried the cross in the St. Peter’s Square.

I do not recall ever being so moved as I was during the hour at Notre Dame – the magnificently read meditations, the glorious strains of the violinist and his music and the angelic voice by the young lady who sang as well as read meditations. It has a special place forever in my heart and soul. And that solitary crown with relics of the terrifying thorns that encased the head of Our Savior two millennia ago.

And the Via Crucis, not at the Colosseum as is traditional but in the desolate immensity and splendor and, yes, solitude, of St. Peter’s Square, a square that seemed to reflect the immense desolation of the world today.

All of these are moments that cannot but change us, cannot but make us think and meditate and pray.

And to remember the words of the preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa at the Passion yesterday afternoon: “We should not revert to that prior time when this moment has passed. As the Holy Father has exhorted us, we should not waste this opportunity. Let us not allow so much pain, so many deaths, and so much heroic engagement on the part of health workers to have been in vain. Returning to the way things were is the “recession” we should fear the most. … “After three days I will rise”, Jesus had foretold. We too, after these days that we hope will be short, shall rise and come out of the tombs of our homes. Not however to return to the former life like Lazarus, but to a new life, like Jesus. A more fraternal, more human, more Christian life!

Well, I just re-read this! I guess it is more than “just a note today!”