Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Thoughts from the Chaplain - Easter 2016

Last Friday, we celebrated the Good Friday Liturgy; hearing the Passion Narrative, praying for our world in the Solemn Intercessions.  We venerated the Cross and received Holy Communion.  In Faversham we marked Good Friday with a walk of witness through the town to the market place for prayer and reflection.  Good Friday is a part of the Sacred Triduum which we can easily relate to, it is the day of the Crucifixion of Jesus.  On the other hand, today, Holy Saturday is more difficult; it has no structure, it is a day of waiting, of quiet reflection; all things that many people have difficulty with.   It is the day that Christ is in the tomb and a day that we too must spend in a spiritual tomb awaiting the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, marked for us by the celebration of the Easter Vigil during this “night of grace” as the Exzultet says.

The night service or Easter Vigil as it is known although the highpoint of the Sacred Triduum is not separate from the rest of the three day celebration. Together the Sacred Triduum relates the Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. It begins with the lighting of a fire which is blessed and from which the Paschal Candle is lit with a prayer explaining the significance of the lettering, numbers and five incense grains that are inscribed into the wax. This Candle will burn in the church during the whole of Eastertide being lit for each service.  It is the light of Christ and is also lit for Baptisms and Funerals.  The readings for this night service tell of the history of salvation according to the Old and New Testaments. It has long been a tradition that adults who are to be baptised or received into full communion with the church are received during this Mass being blessed with the oil of Catechumens, Holy Water and Chrism.  The final part of the service is the celebration of the Eucharist.

The overall significance of the Easter Vigil underlines our relationship with Christ climaxing in the taking part in the mystery of the Body and Blood of our Lord.  It also emphasizes our bonds as community, brothers and sisters in Christ and united by our common ties of Baptism and all the sacraments.  As we sing out the Alleluia this night let us remind ourselves of these bonds and pledge to live accordingly.

May I wish you all a very happy Easter!

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm