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COVID-19 ruins Easter’s thrill

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SUNDAY, April 12, is Easter. Easter is one of the most festive events in the liturgical calendar.

  This is because it is the remembrance and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter follows a period of fasting called lent, during which many churches set aside time for repentance and remembrance.

  The week leading up to Easter is called Holy Week or Passion Week. This also includes Palm Sunday procession with palm fronds.

  According to experts, Christianity’s holiest week traditionally begins with a joyful waving of palm fronds, continues with solemnity and culminates it to triumph at Easter.

However, this year’s Easter celebration will be different as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic which has caused the closure of churches leading to absence of activities traditionally associated with the Easter celebration.

  Churches will not be able to celebrate Easter due to social distancing and limits in public gathering because of the health challenges being faced globally. These are measures to stop the spread of COVID -19 in communities.

  Worries about the coronavirus outbreak have triggered fear leading to temporary suspension of church activities while the pandemic lasts.

The activities of Easter start with Palm Sunday also known as Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem. For the first time in the history of Christianity, the annual re-enactment of the last week before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, popularly known as the Passion Week, will not be held in most parts of the Christian world

  Palm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday commemorates Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It marks the beginning of Holy Week and always falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday.

  Palm Sunday also ushers in the Holy Week’s Easter tritiums which are Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

  This year’s Easter will experience absence of huge crowds, no massive choir practice songs of hope and inspiration. Instead of getting ready for grand celebrations, churches are preparing for scaled down Easter services that will be streamed on television or online.

  The resurrection story is one of triumph and victory. It is a message that goodness can come from bad situations.

  This year, as the coronavirus leaves many dead and thousands sick in its path and restrictions everywhere, Christians have no choice than to celebrate Easter in their homes without the usual fun.

  In his Palm Sunday message, the Archbishop of Ibadan Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev Gabriel Abegunrin, urged Christians not to allow the current health challenge to trouble them, adding that they should be steadfast in their faith.

  Archbishop Abegunrin charged Christians not to lose faith in God in spite of what is happening.

  He said due to the restriction on public religious activities in the state, Easter activities will be streamed on Television and social media for the church’s faithful to watch.

Similarly, the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Reverend Emmanuel Badejo, advised the faithful in the diocese to celebrate Jesus Christ wherever they are in this period of coronavirus and restriction of gatherings, including churches.

  A member of the Pentecostal denomination, Ibadan, Oyo State, Kike Tade, opined that the best thing for everyone is to ensure to comply with government’s advice as the only measure to play safe from the coronavirus. The place of worship is just a mere building; our mind is the temple,” she said.

  Commenting on the issue, Calistus Adeniran noted that in his parish, there were a lot of activities lined up for the Easter celebration but due to restrictions, those activities cannot be held.

  “I feel pained because some of those activities which we always celebrate as a family have been over taken by events due to COVID-19, leading to restriction on public religious activities. But there is nothing we can do. It is a way of containing the spread of the virus.  My prayer is for the pandemic to come to an end,” he lamented.

  Also speaking Mary Nwamadi said the Easter celebration will be a quiet one for her due to coronavirus social distancing regulations. However, she hopes that things will get better and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

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