Easter Sunday 2013

One of the things I love about celebrating Easter in the monastery is the way in which we become (late) Romans again. Our liturgy reverts to a form St Benedict would have had no difficulty recognizing: very sober, very plain, unadorned psalmody and scripture for the most part, with a few great antiphons of heart-rending poignancy. Think Good Friday, with its extended scripture readings and the solemn preces at the altar: that is the model to which we revert in the Divine Office. It is very much the kind of prayer we associate with late Roman Christianity — spare, devoid of Gallican frills, almost terse in its formulations.

Then comes the Great Vigil itself, the sober joy of the Exsultet, the recounting of salvation history by the light of the paschal candle, the triple alleluia, so grave and yet so thrilling, and so on and so forth until we come to the Mass of Easter Day, when the sun has risen in splendour and church bells are ringing everywhere. Then what do we get? Musical fireworks? Cacophonies of sound? No. The introit for the Mass, Resurrexi, has the calm beauty of the rising sun; a joy so intense and profound it needs no other expression than this quiet, wondering awe at what has transpired.

Today most Christians will probably be feeling tired. It is all right to feel tired and not particularly joyful, if by joyful you mean the noisy variety we often mistake for real gladness of heart. We know that Christ has conquered sin and death once and for all. We are children of the Resurrection, and we rejoice in that knowledge. But if you want to go about it a little quietly, if you are feeling a little piano, that really is all right. Don’t feel guilty. You are just being (late) Roman.

Happy Easter! Gaudium paschale!


10 thoughts on “Easter Sunday 2013”

  1. Thank you sister. I am about to leave for church, and lead the musical worship on this Easter Day. Today I feel tired, rather anxious and with no bubbling excitement. Even the songs I have chosen lack jollity or exuberance. There is still a Good Friday lingering here. I pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire and transform me, and that I may experience a deep but yet maybe quiet joy.
    Be blessed dear sister for your wisdom and words of compassion today.

  2. Your little Facebook intro suggested to me that you were going to say that the Mass was in latin and I found myself wondering how the change from latin to English was received by the congregations when it happened. I know I became quite possessive when changes were made in hymns, for example.
    (Not that I was at all disappointed in the article as it turned out! So very evocative, I could almost have been there.)

      • No problems, Stan. Actually, we no longer have any say in the way in which the Easter Vigil — or indeed any Mass — is performed because we don’t have a chaplain and go to Belmont Abbey or another church. We ‘missed’ some of the things we love and value, and I daresay others do/did too; but we must make the best of it and be grateful for what we have. Sometimes we can be surprised by good things we never dreamed of.

  3. We had something different at the Easter Vigil last night – all the responses, the Gloria and Agnus Dei etc., in Latin, sounded beautiful. More importantly, we welcomed a combination of 14 Catechumens and Candidates into the Catholic faith, beautiful mass lasting just over two hours in length, billowing clouds of incense, flowers everywhere. Better yet, the elderly lady to my left did not set my sleeve on fire, her Easter candle held at a frightening angle.

    It was a fruitful Lent, jubilant Vigil. Happy Easter to all!

  4. Happy Easter! Your ‘Late Roman’ celebration sounds so wonderful (in both senses). How I would love to experience that. In our little parish the Vigil was a little more modern and haphazard, but also full of joy. Most unexpectedly and movingly, the whole Exsultet was beautifully sung in plainchant by one brave woman from our choir.

  5. We had a Service of the Light in our Parish, with a vigil and it was a lovely service commencing in the open air in darkness until the fire was lit. The Easter candle was lit from that light and we than all lit a personal candle and than processed into Church.

    The Exultet was sung beautifully by our curate and we stayed by Candlelight until the Acclamation that “He is Risen – Alleluia” with the response “He is risen indeed, Alleluia” than wonderfully celebratory Anthem on the Organ.

    A wonderful experience this year, which exceeded my expectations and anticipation of the service.

  6. Thank you for your comments and sharing. It sounds as though we have all been blessed with glorious Easters. The ways in which we have celebrated may have differed, but we have been united in the Risen Christ and that is what matters. And don’t forget, we have a whole Octave of Easter Day and then we go on celebrating until Pentecost!

  7. Just a short follow up to say that although my expectations of joy were low, and I was full of anxiety, God surprised me with a blessing of deep peace. Something rare and beautiful. My churchmanship is very low Anglican but I am touched by the wonder of worshiping the risen Christ in our different ways.

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