Happy Easter! Or, Buona Pasquetta (“little Easter”), as Easter Monday is called in Italy.
While for most of the country it is a day of picnics and outings, for the monks it acts as a second chance to breathe and reflect deeply on the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection, since the intense and lengthy liturgies of the previous days often leave a monk breathless! Only time and silence allows the grace to penetrate our dark minds to begin to truly comprehend the mystery of God’s Incarnation, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. We bring each of you with us in our prayer as we contemplate these events throughout the whole octave, throughout all of Eastertide.
Just as Christ’s resurrection brings hope to the sick and dying, it also brings hope to all of us who have lived through these nine months of destruction and loss following last year’s earthquakes. We hope that like the empty tomb, these varied stones and ruined choirs might herald a time of hope and new beginnings. For the monks it is a time to focus on new building projects at our home in the Norcia mountains, following the request from the archdiocese asking us to free up space in our buildings in town (which belong to the diocese) for their own needs. The archdiocese has hundreds of damaged properties and the buildings in town were among the least damaged. We see their request as a sign of God’s will as we too can begin a new chapter of our community’s life on the mountainside.
With God’s help and yours, our first proper chapel will soon be open to the public. Made of wood and only one story for maximum earthquake protection, this little chapel is currently under construction and well on its way to completion. Old monastic altars and choir stalls from northern Europe have been found and acquired to help adorn this space for God, while plans for permanent buildings proceed. We have started discussions with renowned classical architects for the design of a master plan for permanent structures.
But a master building plan always comes second to the most important plan of all: God wills that we follow Him to Glory. May this Easter season bring each of you the joy that comes from knowing that even from the worst of suffering — the unjust death of the Son of God himself — can come the greatest of blessings, Eternal Life.
Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.