EASTER 2017 Message

MESSAGE FROM HIS EXCELLENCY ANTHONY THOMAS AQUINAS CARMONA O.R.T.T., S.C. PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ON THE OCCASION OF EASTER 2017

Easter marks the joyful resurrection of Lord and Redeeming Saviour Jesus Christ. The Easter Season is grounded in a philosophy of sacrifice, regeneration and renewal. Every year, Easter speaks to the need for a new and renewed start and a refined and better way of thinking and living among us all. It empowers us to exhibit real, genuine compassion and kindness regardless of what our personal circumstances are. We must remember that Jesus Christ stood his ground in the face of an unrelenting adversary in the form social injustice, religious persecution, jealousy, envy and hate. His spirituality was grounded in affirmative action and faith in the resolute power of mercy and forgiveness. At the Cross, in his greatest moment of anguish, he forgave and with his Resurrection, affirm our Salvation and the Salvation of all sinners. His enduring Passion and suffering should inspire us all to seek Salvation through prayer, affirmative action and good deeds. Let him come gloriously into our lives as he was welcomed and praised on Palm Sunday, when he entered the holy city of Jerusalem. We must listen to that eternal Messenger of peace and love and when we do, we will regenerate ourselves, individually and collectively as a Nation.

By his unjust death, he left us an eternal message about the sanctity of life. Life is precious and sacrosanct and must always be preserved and respected. No life is greater than the other in the eyes of God. The life of the man with riches and the vagrant on the street are equal in the eyes of God. We must therefore, not marginalize persons in challenging communities nor trivialize the senseless demise of many in those communities. Like Mary, who suffered at the foot of the Cross, there are mothers, fathers and siblings in perpetual anguish and sadness. During Easter and beyond, we must continue to invoke God’s benevolence, kindness, genuine love and prayers for those in need.

We must not be flippant about the lives and needs of the downtrodden. The life of every, man woman and child is important regardless of their status, race, color, religion or political suasion. We must therefore be honest to ourselves and with others. We must not say that we care when we do not, we must not say that we feel and do not, we must not say we are concerned and show neither mercy, compassion nor forgiveness. Easter is about enforcing genuine humanity in our lives.

The Holy Cross is not a “Bling”. As Pope Francis has stated, “The Cross is a sign of God’s love for mankind not a membership badge.” In other words, if you wear the Cross– then practise God’s love to your fellow man and woman through actions, words and deeds. You must therefore uplift and give the human spirit in all of us, a sense of hope and vision. At this Easter time and more specifically during this Easter weekend , we must keep on ‘jamming’ for the right things and the right values, not simply fete after fete after fete, when basic simple human needs in Trinidad and Tobago are not being addressed with the required seriousness, vision, heart and compassion.

Easter is about selflessness and undying humility. On Holy Thursday, the washing and drying of the feet are acts of real humility that leaders in all sectors in our society can and must follow. We require in our society more than ever, service leadership rather than power leadership in all spheres of activity, listeners that hear and talkers that act and perform. These are some of the messages that Jesus Christ left us by His life, His words, His acts of humanity, His miracles, His benevolence and His death.

Easter must be lived and not merely a seasonal ritual of spiritual ceremonies. It offers and encourages unity among our peoples. There is such a “People Miracle” taking place in the small town of Siparia. Easter Season is unique for those of us living in Siparia and environs. It brings with it, in Siparia, a unifying power among Catholicism, Hinduism and other faiths. As a young man like many others, I have experienced that great influx of hundreds of Hindus and Catholics and those of other religions, coming to Siparia to venerate, reflect and pray in the La Divina Pastora Church and churchyard to Soparee Mai (the Mother of Siparia ) and La Divina Pastora ( the Divine Shepherdess).

This represents unifying, divine spirituality at work. The hair of young boys of all religions are cut for the first time as a form of reverence, humility and deep offering in prayers; beggars in the spirit of hope, from all parts of Trinidad and Tobago, descend on the Churchyard for alms and year round blessings; mothers and fathers return every year to give thanks for personal miracles that have occurred because of their religious veneration and prayer at that Holy Site. The broken spirited and those in pain and sadness find solace. At those Easter celebrations, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, persons of all faiths including, Hindus and Catholics, can all attest to what has been called “The tangible presence of the living God”. This unifying, healing circumstance finds itself in homes, schools and communities in this Republic of ours at this Easter time and beyond is my eternal wish. There is simply too much pain and hurt in this land of ours and can we begin to heal at this Easter time? The Siparia religious experience is a veritable spiritual Crucible we hold in our hands that can change this country, this region and the world.

In this time of worrying social conflict and human concerns, we seek a world of greater harmony. It is possible, through the loving power of Jesus Christ, and his message at Easter, of selflessness in sacrifice and a humanity that works for the betterment of all. In the same way Jesus Christ carried the Cross of man’s sins and our inhumanity to each other, we too are called upon to bear the cross for others grounded in unconditional, selfless love and empathy. After travelling that seasonal road of Lent, immersed in prayer, fasting and abstinence, we are called upon as Christians and as a Nation to celebrate renewed life, with new positives and great acts of goodness.

On behalf of my family and I, I wish the Christian community and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a Happy, Holy and Blessed Easter 2017!

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