Sunday, 24 April 2011

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

Children and tourists looking at tadpoles on Easter day
 The warm sunshine brought out the tourists at Buckfast Abbey, as the very large congregation poured out of the Abbey church into the bright sunlight.

The Ordinariate group gathered together to exchange Easter greetings. There were cards to exchange and I had a box of freebies: copies of some catholic reading materials. We couldn't quite believe what had happened in so short a time. The Ordinariate is a reality in this land!

Amazement was of course the much more profound experience of the first disciples as they became the first witnesses of the Resurrection.  Father Abbot very boldy declared, in our Pontifical Mass today, that the Resurrection was a defining moment in human history, that we were Easter people. The Abbot's words although different echoed the Holy Father's words in his latest and much applauded book, "Only if Jesus has risen has anything really occurred that changes the world and the situation of mankind." * The Holy Father is echoing the great Apostle St Paul (e.g. 1 Cor 15). The Resurrection was not expected by the disciples, or at least not in the way it happened. The crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah were not anticipated and it took the disciples some time to make sense of it all. Even today the Resurrection is imbued with mystery, as it should be, for it is a divine event. But what was clear from the beginning was that it changed everything.

The modern person is no stranger to change. Change is all around us. Yet so many grow weary of this change. It is rarely change that amazes us, but too often change that bores us. Or at least it might amuse us for a while but we soon move on to other things. Not so the disciples, their amazement continued. As I gazed at the pond with my children today, as together we longed to see that the tadpoles had changed, we were a little disappointed. They did not seemed to have changed at all.

This longing to see the transformation of tadpole to frog seemed to me to echo a longing in the human heart. We want change but we don't want superficial change. We long for visible, tangible change that changes everything. Is this not a longing for the Resurrection in some way? The key thing we should note here is that the Resurrection was a divine event and not orchestrated by man. This distinguishes the changes in the world from the changes inspired by God. Let us then be Easter people and let us allow the Resurrected Christ to effect in us a change not orchestrated by us but God.  I am apt to believe that the Ordinariate is the answer to a divine call rather than that of man, and all of us can bear witness to the way God has changed us in a very short time.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Ian Hellyer, Group Pastor

* Ratzinger, Joseph "Jesus of Nazareth - Holy Week" (CTS 2011)  p242. 

Alleluia! Lumen Christi. Deo gratias.

The Easter fire
 As night began to fall so we gathered by the fire outside the Abbey church.  We watched the embers glowing warmly as we felt a little chill in the darkness. And then the monastic community emerged to begin the joyous vigil of Easter. The fire was blessed, the paschal candle marked and then a light was taken from the fire to light the paschal candle. Easter had begun: "Lumen Christi" sang the Abbot, we replied, "Deo Gratias". Thanks be to God indeed for the Light of Christ, not least for the light that has illuminated the hearts of the first to enter the Ordinariate this Holy Week & Easter.

In the Easter homily we were reminded of the connection between Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover, and the question Jewish childern ask their father on the night of the passover: "Why is this night different from all others?" A question Father Abbot suggested we all should ask of this night. And the answer is to be found most beautifully put in the Exultet, the ancient Easter hymn.

On this night Christ passed over from death to life. May the light of the Paschal Candle be a symbol of Christ's light aflame in our hearts, and may it forever burn in us. Amen.

We were privileged to also witness a new Christian being brought into the fold through the waters of baptism, along with two of the baptised brought into full communion with the Catholic Church. All three were Confirmed.

What a joyful night! The Prince of Life being dead, now lives and reigns. Alleluia.
Ian Hellyer, Group Pastor

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)