John Paul at Eastertime
AT 3:00 A.M. - Fr. James Reuter, SJ () - April 5, 2003 - 12:00am
At 9:30, Roman time, on the morning of Easter Sunday, April 20, John Paul II will say his Easter Mass at the improvised altar, in the great square before Saint Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City.

After the Mass, he will deliver his Easter Message "To the city and to the world." The City is Rome. The world is the rest of us. Years ago, he would leave the improvised altar, go back into the Vatican, and come out on the high balcony, over the Square, to deliver his Easter Message. But, for the last two years, he has remained right there, on the improvised altar, and has delivered his Easter Message to the great crowd assembled for the Mass. The crowd fills the Square and overflows into all the streets of Rome that lead to the Vatican – pilgrims from all over the world.

At Easter time, the Square is incredibly beautiful. Flowers come from all over Europe. Especially tulips from Holland. The Mass is a time of prayer, but it is also a scene of beauty. The English commentary is done by Archbishop John P. Foley, the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He not only translates all the languages that are used, he identifies everyone on the altar – the Cardinals, the readers, those who lead the intercessory prayers, those who offer gifts at the offertory procession, the priests who distribute Communion, and even the altar boys! This Mass is the most viewed religious program in the whole television industry.

It is shot, on camera, by RAI – the national radio and television of Italy. It is sent by satellite all over the world. Here in the Philippines it will be carried, nation wide, over two networks: the Associated Broadcasting Company, Channel 5 in Manila; and the National Broadcasting Network, Channel 4 in Manila. ABC 5 will televise the Mass and Message live. We will see and hear John Paul from the moment he starts the Mass, until he leaves Saint Peter’s Square, after delivering his Easter Message.

The Philippines is seven hours ahead of Rome, in real time. So the Mass will appear on the network of ABC 5 from 4:30 p.m., our time, until 7:00 p.m., in the afternoon and early evening of Easter Sunday. ABC 5 looks upon itself as Mama Mary’s Channel – the Channel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So they are giving John Paul prime time, as a public service. The Filipinos love John Paul, so ABC 5 is donating this air time, as a gift to the people. The Holy Father will be seen and heard, as he says the Mass, and while he is actually delivering his Easter Message, in 15 cities:

• ABC 5 ... Manila

• ABC 2 ... Laoag

• ABC 28 ... Baguio

• ABC 5 ... Naga

• ABC 6 ... Legazpi

• ABC 11 ... Sorsogon

• ABC 32 ... Bacolod

• ABC 21 ... Cebu

• ABC 8 ... Surigao del Sur

• ABC 13 ... Butuan

• ABC 10 ... Agusan del Sur

• ABC 21 ... Cagayan de Oro

• ABC 2 ... Davao

• ABC 29 ... Zamboanga

• ABC 21 ... General Santos

ABC is affiliated with 60 Cable Stations – 32 is Luzon, 14 in the Visayas, 14 in Mindanao.

The National Broadcasting Network, Channel 4 in Manila, has been carrying the satellite telecasts from the Vatican, live, for many years. But on Easter Sunday they are irrevocably committed to the PBA. So, immediately after the basketball games, they will televise the Easter Mass and Message of John Paul – roughly, from 9:30 p.m. to midnight, on the evening of Easter.

The National Broadcasting Network has outlets in 21 cities. John Paul will be seen and heard, nation wide, over:

• NBN 4 ... Manila

• NBN 11 ... Cebu

• NBN 11 ... Davao

• NBN 7 ... Zamboanga

• NBN 11 ... Pagadian

• NBN 11 ... Dipolog

• NBN 8 ... Cotabato

• NBN 8 ... Tacloban

• NBN 2 ... Guimaras

• NBN 10 ... Dumaguete

• NBN 12 ... Calbayog

• NBN 4 ... Puerto Princesa

• NBN 8 ... Naga

• NBN 8 ... Baguio

• NBN 11 ... Laoag

• NBN 4 ... Vigan

• NBN 2 ... Bacolod and Iloilo

• NBN 4 ... Goa, Camarines Sur

• NBN ... Catanduanes Community Network

• NBN 13 ... Romblon, Community TV Network

• NBN 2 ... Sorsogon Broadcasting Corporation

If for any reason, the viewers have been unable to watch the Mass and Message on Easter Sunday, the National Broadcasting network will re-play both, on prime time, on Easter Monday, April 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

John Paul II believes in the power of media. He has consecrated World Communications Day, June 1, to: "Media, in the Service of Peace." He himself has used media all through his life. He campaigned against the German invasion of Poland as an underground actor. He was not only a player on stage, he was the leading man! And, very often, he wrote the script! He wrote for stage, and for radio, risking his life in every performance. Recently, he has published a new book of poems.

And on Easter Sunday he will go to all the world, on media. He will pray for peace. It will be one brief shining moment, when all of us can reach up to God, together.

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