Easter candles shine this year to a large extent lonely before itself. © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
It’s a sad first: Easter will take place without churchgoers because of Corona. But just clicking on the Internet, it can not be, says Capuchin and psychologist Father Ludger. He recommends to look for a real place outside.
Interviewer: We cannot celebrate the highest feast of Christianity properly, what does that do to us human beings??
Father Ludger agidius Schulte (Capuchin monk, psychologist): That can be very different, it also depends a bit on how you deal with other challenges and what patterns that exposes in you: Basically, it is first of all for the one who believes, not new to connect Easter also with this big challenge.
We celebrate at Christmas that God has accepted the world, and at Easter that he overcomes it, breaks through it, transforms it, can lead it into completely new dimensions. We also sometimes forget that the "insecurity" of the human being is actually part of being human itself. All of this is coming up massively now and will be looked at consciously during Holy Week; not only as a story of guilt, but also as a question of "How do I deal with pain, with boundaries, with loneliness, with judgments" and so on?.
These are all big pictures. I can’t celebrate that concretely in the community right now. But I can definitely understand it in different places. And there is important to find a place.
Interviewer: A place in the heart? In my head?
Father Ludger: Yes, also inwardly, but not only. I ask myself the question: in spite of everything, can I still find places where I can walk the Stations of the Cross outside?? A lot has to do with expression, a lot has to do with "how do I express and connect with my feeling" and how can I connect faith and my feeling??
Interviewer: Only no matter what we do, it’s not a substitute for Easter as we usually celebrate it, with all the great digital offers from church service broadcasting to pastoral care. Isn’t it also important to admit that, that you don’t overplay this loss, this grief, but that you somehow accept it??
Fr. Ludger: That is very important, in the spiritual life anyway. "Would have" and "would be" are omitted because of "is not". So to always face a reality, but needs ways. I can’t do that automatically at the push of a button. I have to allow that first. This year it is different, and now the question is, how do I want to shape this otherness?? How do I also take very specific points?
I can say that there is a huge offer and sometimes also a bustling offer, which does not help me at all, rather confuses me, especially also in the digital area. I suggest one goes along with an offer continuously, brings more peace into it, rather than me constantly zapping around according to the motto "where is now something interesting?"
So I have to decide to translate this other situation into design. And that means that I have to say to myself: I’m going to do something very special on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday or Easter Day in order to find an inner form again.
I can do that in different ways. I can do that through internet offers, by visiting this page and going along, but I can also do that, for example, by looking for a place for myself and lighting my candle there. I can do that in a way so that I don’t endanger myself or others.
Interviewer: So your advice is not to think about what we have to do without, but on the contrary – to think positively. How can I shape that?
Father Ludger: Yes, exactly. It is very important to create a railing and to be aware of it: These days are otherwise also shaped by rites, for example, that one meets for the liturgies on Holy Thursday or Good Friday and now instead consciously knits a substitute program and begins to organize it concretely. There are a lot of offers, and I choose one that suits me.
Interviewer: In my opinion, the most difficult thing for some will be the Easter Vigil, which is the end of Lent. We now deal with the fact that with Easter we are not redeemed from deprivation after all?
Fr. Ludger: Let me give you an example of what we are doing right now in the monastery. We are currently trying to organize something. At the moment the florists cannot sell their flowers. We have talked to florists, they will bring a lot of flowers here. And we will then make a so-called Easter flower island on the large parking lot in front of the monastery. This will be a resurrection picture, and there we will arrange so to speak quite a lot of flowers.
People can come by on their bicycles and put a flower down and just find a place. I have to look a little bit, where can I create a ritual for myself, if I would like to do that?? I can only advise – also the pastors – that at Easter the churches are decorated in a Easter way, that they wear the normal decorations, so that people can go in there, that the Easter candle is clearly displayed, so that people first of all know that the space is there. I can not do it now in the large group. This is not possible at the moment. But I also have haptic tangible places to be. Not only internet-related.
Above all, it is very important when you start something that you really do it with living signs. That means, I can bring a flower to a cross and celebrate my Easter there. I can do things that symbolize exactly what they do otherwise, that can not do on a large scale.
The interview was conducted by Renardo Schlegelmilch.