By Fr. Ralph Kleiter, Ministry to Tourism
As we begin Holy Week, I write as one in isolation or better in solitude, like all of us. Easter this year will be like the novel Coronavirus, entirely new. This week’s celebrations will also be new for Easter people.
Our worlds have changed, suddenly!
We feel for those who have been caught travelling or cruising as this pandemic was about to break. We know how one of the largest industries in the world today, tourism (which includes the hospitality component), has impacted millions of people. This havoc will continue for some time because even after the pandemic it will take time for even those who might be financially able to venture beyond their borders.
Even Crystal Cruises has suspended their entire fleet until further notice. So we are in uncharted waters not knowing when and where travel will return.
The Ministry to Tourism’s 2020 travel programs have been postponed or cancelled. All the programs were centred around the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany with pre-tour or post-tour programs in Paris, Lourdes, London and the cruise of the Fjords of Norway to St. Petersburg. The Passion Play season has been postponed to 2022.
After years of planning, saving and waiting our fine group will now have to wait until 2022 or 2030. I am not only personally saddened but sorry for the losses that these travel pilgrims are experiencing. But as we are about to celebrate Easter it is important to remember that the Passion Play has always been about giving thanks for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Oberammergau villagers made a vow in 1633 to celebrate this event through drama. It was their way to thank God for being saved from a plague. Interestingly, it has taken another epidemic to force them to postpone the fulfillment of their vow. May we be with them as they bear this cross.
Please keep in touch and visit my website www.pilgrimjourneys.ca. In a spirit of calm and resolve, we will return to travel. Is that not our belief as travel pilgrims? Is that not the reason why we have become and will remain travel pilgrims? May all the providers soon be welcoming us back for enriching travel experience!
Everyone this Holy Week and Easter will have lost the opportunity to celebrate these Paschal Days with others and must even celebrate outside our places of worship. Today is a time to deepen our spirituality in another way. It will be without our faith communities and for some without the Liturgical Summit of these days. May we rediscover that the Sacred, the Risen One, is with us, interceding for us wherever we are during these uncertain and difficult times.
I leave you with the gift of this prayer. Maybe we can say it while we are “washing our hands” so often these days for the safety of all:
PRAYER FOR THE END OF THE VIRUS
Almighty and merciful Father, who show your love to all your creation.
We come before you asking for a quick control of the coronavirus currently ravaging our world.
Hear graciously the prayers we make for those affected by the virus in various parts of the world.
Grant healing to the sick, eternal life to the dead and consolation to the bereaved families.
We pray that an effective medicine to combat the sickness be speedily found.
We pray for the relevant governments and health authorities that they take appropriate steps for the good of the people.
Look upon us in your mercy and forgive us our failings.
– Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar
I pray not only for those who have died from COVID-19 here, or during their travels, or even while cruising. Truly, we have all been challenged by it, changed by it.
FINAL WORDS AT OBERAMMERGAU:
Magdalene rejoices at the tomb:“I know that my Saviour lives…..He is with us all the days until the end of the world….Oh, could I proclaim it throughout all the worlds, so that the mountains and cliffs and heaven and earth should re-echo with the words:
HALLELUJA! HE RISEN!