The tradition by Christians of conducting the Way of the Cross through street processions was again broken yesterday in most parts of the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his brief Easter address Friday, President Lazarus Chakwera pointed out that this is a time for self-reflection and renewal of one’s faith.
“The prophet Isaiah says but Jesus ‘was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well… [because] all of us were like sheep that had wondered off. We had each gone our own way, but the Lord gave him the punishment we deserved,” Chakwera said.
Catholics at St. Patrick’s and Maula parishes in Lilongwe did not have street processions as has been over the past years. Instead, they had the Way of the Cross in their prayer houses and in phases, in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions.
Vice President Saulos Chilima joined the congregation in the afternoon at St. Patrick’s Parish for the second part of the Good Friday service.
“This year there will not be a procession in the streets. We are just praying the Way of the Cross in the church taking turns per mphakati and then at 3pm there will be other prayers for everyone,” reads a communication from the church that was passed to the VP’s Press Officer.
A congregant at St. Patrick’s Parish, James Banda said he was used to the traditional Way of the Cross on every Good Friday.
“Failing to have the Way of the Cross through street processions has dampened this Easter Friday. I feel there is a gap in my prayers today,” he said.
He was quick to say that no one is to blame because Covid-19 is real and killing people.
It was however a different story in Mzuzu as despite the Covid-19 pandemic, St. Peters Cathedral in Mzuzu celebrated its a Way of the Cross through a 1 Kilometre walk, which started from St. Johns Mission Hospital to the parish.
The parish’s priest, Yotamu Msumba, led hundreds of Christians, majority dressed in purple, throughout the 14 stations of Way of The Cross in which they stopped for prayers.
One of the Christians, 78-year-old Clemencia Ng’ambi, said she could not skip the day by staying home because she values the Way of the Cross in God’s Kingdom.
“Jesus passed through what we call the Way of the Cross. His suffering gives us life. That is the reason I participated in the Way of the Cross,” Gondwe said.
On the other hand, St. Mark Anglican took the unusual way of having Way of the Cross just around the church.
St Mark Anglican Church priest, Eremia Phiri said Good Friday is important as Christians observe the suffering of Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is our saviour. Though we are pandemic, we thought of parading Way of the Cross differently while observing social distance,” Phiri said.
At Zolozolo CCAP of Livingstonia Synod, Christians also held Easter prayers despite having difficulties to observe Covid -19 restrictions.
Moderator Chimbirima Gondwe said God is in control, adding CCAP Christians respect Easter because it means their salvation.
In Blantyre, Session Clerk of Saint Columba CCAP Church Godwin Ng’oma, said Covid could not stop the celebrations entirely, stressing that Good Friday celebrations are critical in as far as salvation is concerned.
“There are three critical days which are December 25 for without Jesus being born, we would not have been saved, there is today for if he did not die, we would not have been saved and then there is this Sunday for if he did not rise from the dead, we would not have been saved,” he said.
The Way of Cross at Saint Pius Catholic Church was an abridged version of what used to be a major event in previous Easter celebrations.
Instead of parading along the streets of Blantyre, the Way of Cross was done within the Church’s premises.
Father Grevazio Namba of the parish concurred with Ng’oma, saying Good Friday is a very significant event which has to be celebrated in a Godly manner.