Easter: A Proclamation of Hope, Joy and Love
After the Lenten penitential journey, with Easter we celebrate the core of the Christian message. It is not simply a remembrance of the historic event of Christ’s Resurrection; it is the celebration of His victory over the powers of sin and evil, over death and the lack of meaning in life.
In these times, the maritime world is undergoing great changes which will affect the future of seafarers, tenacious people who are strengthened by sacrifice and solidarity. Unfortunately, their work remains hard, and every day we are witnesses to the difficulties they encounter: they are forced to live for months, if not years, far from their loved ones; they are the first ones to suffer because of the repeated pirate attacks, while continuously are easily criminalized. Often they are denied permission to go ashore, and they are exploited on the job and in their pay, and not a few of them will loose their lives at sea.
But “the Risen Christ signals the paths of hope along which we can advance together towards a world more just and mutually supportive, in which the blind egoism of the few will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many” (John Paul II, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2000).
Easter comes as a message of hope, joy and love for all the seafarers too.
Hope in the Risen Lord invites us to not give up to the injustices present in the maritime world, but to fight them in a Christian way, in solidarity with the victims. In this “Year of the Seafarer”, hope becomes greater and more practical in everyone’s commitment to struggle for a more safe and just world in which the international Conventions will be ratified and applied for respect of the rights of the seafarers, their families and the environment.
Today for us, evermore, the joy of the Risen Lord’s becomes gratitude and celebration for the 90th anniversary of the Apostleship of the Sea’s foundation. A small group especially of committed laypersons, who met in Glasgow for the first time on October 4, 1920, has developed and spread to become a great “Work” of the Church. Let us pray the Risen Lord to give to AOS a new life, supported by chaplains and volunteers who will continue, with generosity and dedication, to provide for the pastoral care of seafarers, fishers and their families, and to respond in so many ports around the world to the needs of seafarers of all races, nationalities and religions, now including the ones working in cruise ships as well.
Lastly, in consideration of the love for each one of us which brought the Lord Jesus to die on the cross and overcome the barriers of evil and division through His Resurrection, during this Easter let us ask Him to grant to all those who work in the maritime world the strength to welcome and love every person without discrimination.
Dear seafarers and fishers, together with all who are united to you through family ties, may this Easter message of hope, joy and love reach you. May the Risen Lord’s blessing descend upon you and the peace of that first day of the Week, which made all things new, be with you always.
XAntonio Maria Vegliò
President XArchbishop Agostino Marchetto