Happy Easter, Folks!

I pray and trust that your Easter celebration is/has been (or will be, for our Eastern brethren and sistern) a blessed one.

We did everything in good order at St Philip’s parish in Blackburn North, under the leadership of our parish priest, Fr Nicholas Dillon. It is a privilege to be a member of the our little choir there and to contribute to the celebrations in a small way. Everyone put in a lot of hard work, and it paid off. As I said to the choir just before we began: remember, this is about prayer, not about performance. I also got to do the fire this year. That was fun too, as I got to combine two of my greatest delights – liturgy and camp fires (sans guitars).

I love the Easter vigil. There is something so elemental, so primitive, so wonderful about gathering under a full moon after nightfall to light a fire according to an ancient ritual, walking silently into the darkened church, sharing the flame with our candles so the whole building is lighted with the glow of the new fire, reading ancient creation texts and singing 2500 year old songs before ringing bells and tossing water around to reconfirm our vows of baptismal commitment, finally culminating in the sacrificial meal at the heart of our faith.

What it all means is another thing altogether, for the vigil is not only more ancient than many of our other Holy Week ceremonies, but more elemental. The symbolism is less the symbol of “re-enactment” (like the, for eg. the foot washing or the Palm Sunday procession) and more on the level of fundamental realities: light and darkness, fire and water, bread and wine. I guess it is not a very rational way to spend two and a half hours on a Saturday night, but if we are approaching a mystery as great as that of the Resurrection, I can hardly imagine a more appropriately mysterious way of doing so.

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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13 Responses to Happy Easter, Folks!

  1. Joshua says:

    Fine sentiments and true, as we celebrate the true myth! – but Papa Benny would no doubt gently remind you that our worship is indeed rational, as it is logike latreia, worship in spirit and in truth, since ours is the religion of the Logos (unlike, as he pointed out in a speech that unfortunately provoked the expected response, certain religions not fundamentally oriented toward Divine Reason).

    • Joshua says:

      P.S. Hope you’ve eaten lots of chocolate Easter eggs! (And the wife and kids too!)

    • Schütz says:

      Mmm. I know this line of thought. It of course involves talking of “reason” and “rationality” on a whole different level. The rationality of myth, for example.

      On one level, Muslim acts of worship appear more “reasonable” than Christian liturgy, in that it is based on set daily recitations of the sacred text and prayers to One God without any of that messy business of the Trinity or Sacraments. The Muslims reject the doctrine of the incarnation precisely because to them it is as logical as a round or three-sided square.

      Within our own liturgical celebrations though the Easter Vigil – even with all its dramatic features – is more “logikos” than (for eg.) the Palm Sunday procession. The latter is mere reenactment – but the former is a drama hidden in words – the long prayers of consecration – the fire, the water, the candle and the Eucharist – and the long readings. These are not simply words or symbols pointing to a reality which is elsewhere or transcendent – they are the mystery itself!

  2. Matthias says:

    Happy Easter to you too David. I went to the Vigil at St john’s Mitcham. After every Mass that I go to I feel that I have truly worshipped God.-not a smugness but rather a feeling of having engaged in a wholehearted worship from my ,body soul and spirit to the God Who is here and He is never silent . I like to worship at the Vigil as it reminds us that out of the Darkness Shone the Everlasting Light

  3. Happy Easter, David.
    Remember, Christ was raised for our justification (which is by faith alone) – Rom 4:25b.

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, I had heard something to that effect… Can’t remember exactly where… Oh, I remember, it was in the homily Fr Cantalamessa preached in St Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday on the theme: Justified as a gift through faith in the blood of Christ.

      Isn’t it wonderful that nothing separates you and me on that score?

      • Really? Nothing?
        I can only rejoice if Fr Cantalamessa preached the Gospel as Lutherans confess it. But I wonder whether that wouldn’t get him in hot water with the CDF?

        • Joshua says:

          I didn’t read all of Fr Cantalamessa’s sermon (great name, that, BTW: Fr Chant-the-Mass!), but a quick perusal made me think at once “How very Lutheran!”

          Since I’m Catholic, of course, I may have been quite mistaken as to how Evangelical it was – Pastor Mark and ex-Pastor David, how Lutheran was it?

          (Don’t worry too much about the bit at the end from Kafka, which seems to be Fr C.’s way of ingratiating himself with the new Pontiff…)

        • Schütz says:

          Yes, let me count the number of priests who have been disciplined by the CDF for preaching justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ… Golly! None! Obviously it is therefore either something that does not get preached in Catholic Churches or something that the CDF (and the Catholic Church) actually believes and teaches!

  4. I’ll have to listen carefully to it to offer an informed response, Joshua.
    I hope I have the time to do that in the next couple of days.
    Is it an mp3? Then I can do so while doing my laps of the local Japanese Garden.
    And don’t worry, I love Kafka!
    O, to preach to a congregation where literary allusions and illustrations would be appreciated!!

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