Orthodox Holy Week

Orthodox Christians are celebrating Easter this year on Sunday 2 May. Delia Surdu, a focolarina belonging to the Romanian-Orthodox Church describes her preparation for this feast.

The Orthodox Church celebrated Palm Sunday on 25 April, leading into Holy Week culminating on 2 May with the feast of the resurrection of the Lord. Delia Surdu is an Orthodox focolarina, living in the focolare community house at Velletri, near Rome, Italy. We asked her how she is living Holy Week in these pandemic times:
“I must say this is a rather unusual Holy Week because of the world situation. But it’s far better than last year, when we were in total lockdown here in Italy, so we could only follow our services via internet. Today, we thank God we’re able to take part, even if they will be much shorter than usual! In these times, when we meet so much suffering caused by the pandemic and many other factors, so much lonelines … I feel we’re closer to Jesus Christ Crucified and Abbandoned. And by looking at Him, without turning our gaze away, looking at the patience with which he accepted suffering, the love with which He gave His life for us, we’ll receive strength and rise up together with Him!”

In your focolare community, you’re the only one belonging to the Orthodox Church. The others are Catholic. How are you all living the preparations for this Easter
“Together! We’re ready to declare to one another once more: Christ is risen! We celebrated Catholic Easter together on 4 April, and now we’re living another Pascal Triduum together, according to the Romanian Orthodox Church tradition. They’ll even be helping me make our traditional Easter food, because they’ve all learnt really well how to do it! Since I came to this focolare community, one of the greatest joys has been preparing our ‘sarmale’ (cabbage and mince rolls) together with a Korean focolarina, and exchange all the Easter greetings we have in my Church’s tradition! We’re one family, so one person’s celebration is everyone’s celebration!”

What originally drew you to the spirituality of unity of Chiara Lubich? And today what inspires you to build universal fraternity?
“I got to know the Focolare Movement when I was 14 years old. What struck me first was the discovery that the words of Sacred Scripture could be lived by anyone, even a girl like me, simply in every day life. In particular I was strongly drawn by the words: “That all may be one” (John 17:21) and I decided to live to contribute towards its realisation! Chiara’s ideal of unity inspires everything I do every day: in my job working with disabled children, in my free time, at home in my focolare community, in my Church etc. I try to see in everyone a brother or sister to love, with whom I can walk together towards universal fraternity”.

Can you tell us something of your own experience of dialogue, in your daily life with people from other Churches?
“Living with people who belong to a different Church to my own is a personal enrichment. Rather than dialogue, I’d say it’s a life lived together, with everyone striving to love the others and so drawing out the best of ourselves and the beauty of our own traditions, discovering the best and the beauty of each other’s Church. For example, I’m so impressed by the commitment of the Catholic focolarine to many social actions they support in society. And they in turn are touched by the sense of Mystery they find in our way of living our faith as Orthodox Christians”.

Lorenzo Russo


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