On March 25, 1951, Catholic chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun celebrated his last Easter Sunday Mass in a war-damaged Christian church near the North Korean prisoner-of-war camp.
“That Easter Sunday, he stood before a congregation made of about 60 gaunt and foul-smelling POWs from different religious faiths — some wore dirty, tattered American uniforms, some wore British uniforms, others simply wore whatever garments their captors have given them,” writes contributor Therese Park.
“The theme of his sermon was suffering and the Crucifixion. He didn't utter a word of the risen Christ or glory that followed. The congregation quietly listened, reflecting on the suffering they themselves had endured and what they had witnessed from their lost inmate-brothers, finally grasping the gravity of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion they had not understood before.”
This year, given our circumstance, America needs God’s healing grace more than ever, writes Park. Kapaun’s last Easter Sunday in North Korea can lead us to a deeper understanding of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross before his resurrection.
The Passionist monastery and retreat house in Jamaica, New York, is being rehabilitated and renamed for environmentalist Fr. Thomas Berry. The Passionist community has come to embrace Berry’s teachings, with the job center operating in the building printing out T-shirts bearing the priest’s name and some of his sayings, including "We Are Born of the Earth" and "Healed by the Earth."
The cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth, often invoked by Latin American liberation theologians, were also joined by Berry. As a Passionist priest, he saw a parallel between the degradation of the environment and the crucifixion of Christ, which is at the center of the Passionist charism.
Much of the time he preached his environmental gospel to secular audiences. But he now has entered mainstream Catholic thought, his theories about a wounded Earth and the need for redemption echoed in Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home."
As a reflection of Berry's influence, the retreat house, now undergoing extensive renovations, will reopen next year with a renewed ministry aimed at offering an environmental and social response to the cries of both the poor and the Earth.
- Michael Sean Winters says that Good Friday is not about ethical lessons, but about the grim and primordial — Jesus’ body on the cross. It demands our attention, he writes. Look and see.
- As we carry our own devastating losses of the past year, Sr. Tracey Horan reminds us that during Holy Week, we also hold the embers of resurrection.
- Contributor Patricia Lefevere remembers Fr. John Battista Giuliani, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and an iconographer, artist, liturgist, activist, teacher, campus chaplain, a cosmic wonderer and an encourager of vocations.