Sunday, April 11, 2010


It has been pointed out to me that I haven't said anything about Easter.  We went to Downside, Sean's old school, as usual.  And for the first time in years I was well enough to stay up for the whole Easter Vigil on Saturday night.  

It's always so exciting.  We gather in a darkened church, and the air is electric with anticipation, hope and barely suppressed excitement.  We wait and we wait, in the dark.  Then the priest brings in the New Fire.  People in the aisles light their candles with the New Fire and pass the light from one to another, so light increases in the church.  The Priest - or in this case, the Abbott - processes with his assistants up the aisle, stopping to pray and invite prayer, until they get to the Altar.  

The darkened Church


Light from the New Fire spreads from person to person


Then there are bible readings for an hour or so, then the main lights come on and the dim church is lit up in a blaze of glory.  Hymns are sung, the Resurrection is celebrated with overwhelming joy and happiness.  They pray the Mass, and it ends at Midnight.  

Easter starts on Ash Wednesday with the beginning of Lent.  During Lent, we are supposed to look at our character flaws and bad attitudes and habits in an attempt to do better, to try to become less selfish and more holy.  And Lent, although it is only 40 days, is very long, and by the time Easter comes, we are longing for it.  We want to celebrate, and the mood is one of peace, fulfilled hope and happiness.  

Part of the Easter Vigil involves renewing of our Baptismal Promises. I get a Daily Retreat in my inbox every day, and I'm going to copy some of the text of one here below, as I'm sure you'll like the little story:

Speak the Word of God with Boldness

At the Easter Vigil in my parish a few years ago, an 8-year-old Hispanic boy (providentially named Jesús) was among those baptized. Before receiving the sacrament, he and the other elect were asked to profess their faith by giving a response ("I do!") to fundamental questions about the Christian faith, such as "Do you reject sin?" "Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth?" etc.

Before the mass, I explained to Jesús and the others why these questions would be asked, and how important was their enthusiastic response. Little Jesús really took it seriously - each time I asked a question, he thundered back "I DO!" with all his might, and with a glowing grin on his face which attested to his share of true Easter joy. After the baptisms, the Easter Vigil rite calls for the renewal of everyone’s baptism promises, so I posed the same questions to the whole congregation, and inspired by that boy’s whole-hearted responses, everyone in the church joined in echoing passionate answers of "I DO!"

That boldness of faith expression is meant to be the norm, not the exception! The Acts of the Apostles testifies to the boldness of the preaching and profession of faith by early believers. The place where they were gathered shook, not because of the mere volume of their prayers, but because their enthusiastic faith resonated perfectly with the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit, and the prayers which we raise together every day of the Lord can, and ought to, thunder with the same mighty Spirit!

Inside the Abbey Church afterwards.


The Cricket Pavilion with the Abbey Church of St Gregory in the background.


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