By Maria Fischer, from Tupãrendá , Paraguay• “The hour has come for the Son to be glorified.” Returning to the theme of the Lord’s Last Supper with the touching moment of the foot washing, Father Cosp rounded out the great Easter Triduum at the festive Easter Sunday, heart of the faith. It is also the heart of the Covenant of Love and of the covenant culture that emerges from there and motivates us to set out toward the peripheries in solidarity, in a reflection of that solidarity with men, with those who are lost, who have moved Jesus to go to the extremes of love and friendship. When he refers to the two disciples, Peter and John, running toward the tomb, you cannot help but remember the incredible moment in the Easter Vigil when at the sound of the Gloria and the lights being turned back on, the members of the liturgy team ran toward the altar, taking flowers, candles and all the Easter decorations – it seemed that they ran even more rapidly than those disciples.
It is Easter. Jesus resurrected. He lives. And his people celebrated it with applause and Easter joy that surges from the heart. “Holy Thursday is the synthesis of what Jesus is and does,” Father Antonio said in the homily. “The Master kneels before his disciples; he does the work of a servant and slave, giving a very clear example of service. It is the road, the only road, to receive full life in Christ,” Father Antonio said. May Christ be resurrected in me, so that we can adapt ourselves to others in Christian service.
The Easter Triduum in Tupãrendá was solemnity, seriousness, and pilgrimage. Characterized by simple and strong faith: it was commitment, it was retreat, confession, Stations of the Cross, rosary, prayer, encounter, blessing… and joy.
Celebrations of the Easter Triduum in the Schoenstatt Shrine in Tupãrendá, Paraguay, April 2015. Produced by: Claudia Echenique, schoenstatt.org Team
The Boys’ Youth had a retreat with Fathers Pedro Miraballes and Santiago Cacvelos. The number of youths, many of them wearing t-shirts from one or another mission, seems to grow constantly.
A large number of people, especially youths and young families, attended the open retreat of Holy Week, from Holy Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning. A team of couples, some with their children, prepared it with much self-giving. Several elements helped the participants to retreat from daily life and to open themselves from their hearts, the most profound thanks, to days of accompanying Jesus in his passion, death and resurrection.
At the same, all the activities that were offered and the active participation of the people formed an essential part of the Easter Triduum in Tupãrendá. Many pilgrims who arrived for the liturgical celebrations or in the traditional pilgrimage to the seven churches participated in the Stations of the Cross or in the conferences presented by Father Oscar Saldivar and Father Antonio Cosp. Beyond profoundly experiencing the mysteries of salvation and of receiving a masterful preparation for the liturgical celebrations, the pilgrims received elements to carry to their daily life of faith – for example, praying the rosary with personal intentions and those of the entire Church and the world (very much like praying the Illuminated Rosary that was developed years ago by the branch of professional youths in Germany, but it emerged independently), the offering of everything that bothers or causes anguish is placed in the jar, the offering of the large or small things to the capital of grace, and a culture of encounter among generations.
The participants were between the ages of 3 months to 78 years old. The testimonial part was impressive, not only during the time that was organized to give a testimony of their own experience; but also, in the informal conversation at table, in an encounter in the hall of the retreat house, or on the way to the Shrine. It is understood, because Viviana travels from Corrientes, Argentina every year to participate, or because a young mother proudly points to her one-year old son saying: “It is his third Holy Week retreat. The first one was when I was expecting him…”
This Mass of the Last Supper of the Lord is a great celebration! The liturgy team has thought about and prepared every detail. Approximately 300 little candles are distributed among the participants in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. The choir sang songs that touched the soul, the Gloria, accompanied by little bells, seemed to resound to heaven…Twelve youths from the Boys’ Youth represented the twelve apostles in the foot washing. Father Tommy Nin Mitchel, the main celebrant, carried it out very carefully. At the beginning, the boys were a little bit embarrassed, but once the very essential rite began, they became totally immersed in what was happening.
“To walk on the road toward glory, we have to accept the crosses of our life, just like Jesus did,” Father Antonio said in the homily, and yes, we also have to experience hard times: I am deceived, I have to live with people with bad temper, bad behavior… And we have to kneel before others. Let us wash away the bitterness; what bothers us– in order to go through the sadness of Good Friday and the silence of Saturday, in order to finally sing the incredible Gloria of Easter. And in everything that was experienced these days, this promised and desired Gloria already appeared silently.
“Undoubtedly the image that dominated this day of the Easter Triduum was the image of Jesus carrying the cross to Golgotha,” said Father Oscar Saldivar (a great reporter for Schoenstatt.org for two years). “The Easter Mystery” of Christ is the summit of our Christian life, not only because Christ has redeemed us through this mystery, but because we become more like Christ, in the measure that we introduce ourselves in this salvific mystery – in the mystery of his cross and resurrection – we will become like Him, we will become more His children, we will become more Christ-like.”
Tupãrendá on Good Friday was a sunny and very hot day. During the morning, many pilgrims visited the cemetery, where their loved ones rest in the shadow of the Shrine. Concepción Colman, the sacristan, gives her heart and soul to this cemetery. When someone comes to ask for a space, she prays with them, she consoles them, and takes care of them. At noon and later, after the liturgy of the seven words and the celebration of the Passion of the Lord, the Stations of the Cross were held. The first one in charge of the stations, were men with special suits, which provided solemnity to the Stations of the Cross with their acappella songs, they also enhanced the liturgy with their music. During the afternoon, the Open Retreat team prepared the Stations of the Cross. They staged the Stations and those present participated by writing their names on the cross; there were emotional moments, accompanying Jesus very closely. Just like every First Friday of the month, the Brave Men prayed the Rosary in the Shrine – there will be another article about this.
“Our own life presents us with many opportunities to live the Easter mystery of Christ. Each one of us has the possibility to participate in the experience of this mystery, because each one us, like Jesus, carries a cross: the cross of suffering– the cross of physical or moral pain – sin, the cross of misunderstanding, the cross of an intimate wound in the soul, the cross of a situation that I cannot change, the cross of an illness, the cross of a difficult family situation, or the cross of the absence of a loved one… Each of us carries a cross in their life. (…) And upon contemplating the Passion of Jesus today, we are called to confront our own crosses to face them, to recognize them and accept them. We are disciples of Jesus, and as such, we want to follow Him on his road, also on his road of the cross,” invited Father Oscar in the homily. “Accept, carry, offer it and make it fruitful. They are the steps of the disciple who takes his cross and follows Jesus (cf. Mt. 16:24). That is our own existential way of the cross. A way of the cross of the heart that helps us to transform our crosses into an offering of love. And the cross transformed into an offering of love becomes the road of hope in Easter that is awaited and desired.”
Holy Saturday began with torrential rain and low temperatures (that is, lower). The participants of the open retreat enjoyed a Father Antonio Cosp conference about the Holy Spirit as the dynamism of God in his work of salvation, showing how the Holy Spirit works like the alarm clock that helps me begin the day. He recommended that during night prayer, we look at the moments where the Holy Spirit awakens us, or where the “angel!” appeared… Then, in the actors’ judgment of Jesus’ condemnation and death, the great question: “Who killed Jesus?” This meditation is so masterful that we will keep it to publish it next year as a Lenten meditation on schoenstatt.org.
Easter vigil in the Church of Mary of the Most Holy Trinity. The rain did not stop; it only diminished. The Easter candle was lit with the fire outside the Church, umbrellas were needed…The Easter road was reaching its end. After the readings and the psalms excellently sung, with the Gloria came that previously mentioned moment of the race with flowers, candles, applause, and songs of joy…
“The Church, like a Mother who gave us birth in baptism, takes us by the hand with tenderness, patience and wisdom, and she introduces the Easter Mystery of Christ, in Christian life. She takes us by the hand with patience and our multiple signs in the Eucharist, so that our heart will open itself to the presence of the Resurrected. Finally, she takes us by the hand with wisdom and explains to us the Sacred Scriptures and the meaning of the events of salvation history.
Like a good Mother, the Church wants us to live what it has taught us, for us to give what we have received. For this reason, it sends us forth to glorify the Lord Jesus with our life, it sends us forth so that we can be Easter men and women in daily life,” Father Oscar said in the homily. The night of Easter joy is a true feast…even with dances!
Once again, it’s a sunny day. Easter Sun. Festive Mass, Easter Mass, the church is again full. There is another choir, other songs, and the same sincere joy. And then at eleven, there is Easter for the children…in a Mass for children. It is Easter; we arrived. The Easter Triduum is finished. And now we prepare for the arrival of the Holy Spirit with the Easter joy that is the fruit of these days in Tupãrendá.
Original: Spanish – Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA