Tag Archive: Easter


AMDG

Attending the Jesuit Province meeting at the moment.  We enjoyed a beautiful morning prayer led by Fr Tom McGuiness yesterday on ‘Resurrection Encounter’.  It was interesting to hear the opening lines of Gospels account of Easter Sunday morning.

  • It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark….  (Jn)
  • On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn……  ( Lk)
  • Very early in the morning on the first day of the week….. (Mk)
  • ….. towards dawn on the first day of the week …………. (Mt)

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It is said that the darkest hour is before the dawn and maybe it was in this profound darkness that Jesus rose again.  This is why Christian Hope can be so enduring – it is in the darkest moments of our lives that God can act most powerfully.Tom then went onto share a beautiful 11th Century Irish Text called simply ‘The Dawn’. Written by an Irish monk, as he sat waiting in his cell – waiting for the light of the sun so he could continue his work on the manuscripts he was writing.

Welcome, bright morning,  enter my dark oratory

 Blessed is he who sent you, Victorious morning, self-renewing  

Maiden of a noble family,  The sun’s dark sister    

You touch the face of each house and illuminate both land and people   

Welcome to you of the white neck,  Covered in jewels, enter

 English Translation of ‘The Dawn’ – for original Gallic click here

 

AMDG

“I would like [the message of Christ's resurrection] to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest…”The power of these words were matched by an encounter, photos of which went viral yesterday of Francis hugging young Dominic Andrea who suffers from cerebal palsy.  I found this reflection from his dad – a professor of theology – On a blog called Catholic Moral Theology.  It is very beautiful

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“Small acts with great love,” Mother Teresa was fond of saying. Yesterday, Pope Francis bestowed an extraordinary Easter blessing upon my family when he performed such an act in embracing my son, Dominic, who has cerebral palsy. The embrace occurred when the Pope spied my son while touring the Square, packed with a quarter million pilgrims, in the “pope mobile” after Mass. This tender moment, an encounter of a modern Francis with a modern Dominic (as most know, tradition holds that St. Francis and St. Dominic enjoyed an historic encounter), moved not only my family (we were all moved to tears), not only those in the immediate vicinity (many of whom were also brought to tears by it), not only by thousands who were watching on the big screens in the Square, but by the entire world. Images of this embrace quickly went viral, and by Easter Sunday afternoon it was the lead picture on the Drudge Report, with the caption, “Change Hatred into Love” (a paraphrase of Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message that followed shortly thereafter), where it remains even as I write this. Fox News, NBC Nightly News, ABC Nightly News, and CNN all showed clips of it. Lead pictures of it were found in Le Figaro, the New York PostThe Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirerinter alia.

It is often difficult to try to express to people who do not have special needs children what kind of untold sacrifices are demanded of us each and every day. And as for Dominic, he has already shared in Christ’s Cross more than I have throughout my entire life multiplied a thousand times over. What is the purpose in all this, I ask? Furthermore, I often tend to see my relationship with Dominic in a one-sided manner. Yes, he suffers more than me, but it’s constantly ME who must help HIM. Which is how our culture often looks upon the disabled: as weak, needy individuals who depend so much upon others, and who contribute little, if anything, to those around them.Pope Francis’ embrace of my son yesterday turns this logic completely on its head and, in its own small yet powerful way, shows once again how the wisdom of the Cross confounds human wisdom. Why is the whole world so moved by images of this embrace? A woman in the Square, moved to tears by the embrace, perhaps answered it best when she to my wife afterward, “You know, your son is here to show people how to love.” To show people how to love. This remark hit my wife as a gentle heaven-sent confirmation of what she has long suspected: that Dominic’s special vocation in the world is to move people to love, to show people how to love. We human beings are made to love, and we depend upon examples to show us how to do this.

………..

One more thing. Pope Francis’ embrace of my son, Dominic, indicates that we should not interpret the new Pontiff’s expressed devotion to the poor, already a cornerstone of his pontificate, in facile, purely material (let alone political) categories. His Easter embrace of my son stands out as a compelling witness to the kind of “poverty” that he urges us to adopt, the poverty that he pointed to in the opening line of his Urbi et Orbi message yesterday: “I would like [the message of Christ's resurrection] to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest…” Parents of disabled children, stand up and find solace and encouragement in these simple yet profound words

See the encounter below (forward to 10.30)

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No this does…..

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Happy Easter – Christus surrexit vere! Alleluia!

Peace, Blessings and Rain

AMDG

It has been a lovely experience celebrating Easter here.  I keep on pinching myself, it is great to stay here and I am savouring as much as I can.  The ceremonies were all in the local language Kannada, which is impenetrable for me, the ancient script is impossible to read as it is alphasyllabary.  There are 49 letters, 13 vowels, consonants and other letters that are part vowel-part consonant. An ancient Dravadic language – the number of written symbols is far greater than the 49 characters, as they form compound characters. Suffice to say – I cannot even attempt to read the Missal, so felt pretty useless during the celebrations!  On Easter Sunday morning – with 5 other priests –  we blessed 200 houses in the village (or so I was told).  I was surprised that quite a few houses were stuffed full with cotton – evidently the price in the local market is too low so they are keeping it in storage and waiting for a market fluctuation.  I was accompanied by a young Jesuit, who was a great help. Very politely and quietly he informed me that the word for peace was ‘shanti‘.  I had gone into the first few houses –  confidently greeting them with ‘ashanti‘. This, I was informed means ‘violence’ !  Not a good start for a house blessing.  Nevertheless I was still greeted with warm smiles and reverence!

The heat has been slowly climbing and now mid-afternoon it can climb over 40 degrees. In the villages everyone dives for the shade, and there is a lot of snoozing and resting.  Yesterday it was so hot that we had a convection storm.  It was the first rain for months and it was lovely to walk in the damp air afterwards and smell the heat and steam in the fields.  The dust briefly was gone and ground itself seemed content and sated.  I was impressed to see the rainwater harvesting in the student hostel – with that one storm filling a 500 liter barrel to overflowing.  Water – as in many places – is a precious commodity, so teaching the children to use it carefully and wisely and showing them how to collect it are useful life-skills.   There is some evidence that the water table is falling in the area, so this is something to worry about in the future.  A great initiative of Fr Eric is the large lake on site which is used for farming fish. (inspired by a trout farm in North Wales!).  Of course this lake is great for collecting the water, especially during the monsoons.  At the moment the heat is so oppressive that most of us have now taken to sleeping on the roof of the Jesuit community.  Luckily a quick-thinking scholastic saved all our matresses before the storm broke…..

AMDG

The power of Jesus’s Passion and the message of the Gospel are heard in a unique way by the poor.  So to celebrate Good Friday with the villagers of Pannur, many of them ‘untouchables’ in the eyes of higher castes, is a special privilege.   Yesterdays  2 hr long ‘live’ stations of the cross was a powerful experience.  As we processed through fields and villages, past mosques and temples, I won’t forget it for a long while. There were soldiers who seemed slightly over enthusiastic with their whips – particularly with Simon of Cyrene who has a reputation for being lazy and workshy in the village. I was told that last year was the first time they had dramatised it and many of the women, and even some of the soldiers,  burst into tears when Jesus was crucified,  This year not so many tears – but lots of devotion. Click on the Video below to get a taste of these ‘Live’ Stations of the Cross.

Untouchability’ is a horrible concept.  To say to someone that somehow who you are is unclean is devastating and dehumanising.  The Dalits have had this label for generations. Their ancestors were untouchable and their children are untouchable.  Many teachers will not even touch their books to mark them.   The Jesuits have explained to me that combined with a fatalistic cosmology, reincarnation, the cyclical nature of time, there develops a  fatal passivity – I am unclean and there is nothing I can do about it.  It seems to me that it is through the lens of these ‘out-castes’ that the power of Jesus’s liberation resonates vibrantly.   In this context liberation and redemption are very tangible.  Reading the Gospel during Holy week with these people reminds me that Jesus was closest to those who were deemed ‘unclean’ : lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors.  These were not necessarily ‘the poor’ but they were ‘the excluded’.  It was a religious-social marginalisation rather than an economic marginalisation that seemed to make Jesus angry.   With the Dalits, poverty and exclusion are combined.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that Gospel is only for the poor – the excluded.  I think the message is universal. It is just that the poor – particularly the outcasts – they hear the Gospel with a certain freshness and urgency that must be acknowledged and learnt from.

———-

AMDG

So we have arrived in the fourth and final week of the Exercises…. hopefully still intact!  The Third Week really stretches your compassion as you attempt to accompany Christ through his passion and suffering, not just as an onlooker but as a friend and companion who is suffering too. The third week really plunges you into the mystery of evil.  However after a ‘tomb’ day, now the retreatant can rejoice with Mary and the Disciples as we live through those first history-changing moments of the Resurrection. Ignatius points out how in the third week Christ allows His Divinity to be hidden – now His Divinity is manifested in full glory. And you watch as Jesus brings the consolation of his risen presence to his mother and his friends. Of course sharing in someone’s joy seems a lot easier than sharing in their pain and suffering – but it seems that somehow the depth of this joy is linked to the depth of our compassion.

As Kahlil Gibran once wrote -

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?

The rest of this beautiful poem is here

When I was a teacher and chaplain I used to like standing in the school hall and telling startled year groups of 200 boys that if the Resurrection wasn’t a historical fact, i.e. if i didn’t really happen than I was the biggest idiot in the hall. As you can imagine some of them quite liked that! But for me it is true – without the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Christianity is a sham.  In the second week we were using our imaginative contemplation to follow Jesus in his ministry so that we could know, love and follow him – or as Richard of Chichester once said ‘ know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly’ – we arrive at the truth and destiny of His and our lives in the resurrection. A love that destroys death and suffering. A light that cannot be swamped by the darkness.

This Easter Joy is celebrated every year by 2billion+ Christians but here in the Exercises it is experienced with a particular intensity. This Easter Joy is the dynamo of Christianity. It is why at every funeral we place the Easter Candle by the coffin of the deceased.  It is a privelege and a joy to share in the Joy of that first Easter – its what makes life worth living for and death worth dying for too!

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