It seemed somewhat appropriate to head for St. Peter’s Square on Easter morning, even if I am not Roman Catholic.
Tradition is important to me, and there is so much history, especially church history, in Rome. I think you could probably attend a different church every Sunday for 20 years and not visit them all. Our last-minute decision meant that we could not get passes to Easter mass, but we were able to attend Pope Francis’ annual “Urbi et Orbi” (City and World) message and blessing in Vatican City.
Almost a decade ago we were in Rome and attended the weekly public audience. On that occasion Pope Benedict XVI spoke in, as I remember it, at least six different languages. This Sunday’s message was only in Italian.
Still, I found it surprising how much of it I understood given that my only real exposure to Italian was a week spent here almost 20 years ago. Must have been some similarities with French and English allowed me to understand. Or maybe it is that Easter is fairly predictable.
You can read the English translation of the message for yourself, I won’t reproduce it all here. You will find lines such as “We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world.” Even if there was nothing new to me, I found it gave me pause for thought.
The message of Easter is one of resurrection and hope for the world. It is one we need to turn to more often as we face the hopelessness we face in the news each day. The light at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train; it is the Light of the world.
I missed the Easter service at my church, the comfortable routine of spending the day with family and friends. There was something special though about being in St. Peter’s Square with tens of thousands of other Christians gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Pope Francis put it: “Death, solitude and fear are not the last word.”