A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, April 26, 2003
I love my parish!

Easter at Saint Benedict's: The world's best dressed altar servers!

Let us be radiant!

It is the Day of Resurrection,
let us be radiant for the feast,
and let us embrace one another.

Let us say: Brethren -
even to them that hate us,
let us forgive all things on the Resurrection,
and thus let us cry out:

Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

-Byzantine Paschal Canon
-Resurrection fresco by Gregory Kroug

A blessed Pascha to all celebrating under the Julian Calendar and a blessed Easter to all!


Today in Church history

April 26, 1521: After Charles V promises to take firmer measures against his doctrines, Luther leaves the Diet of Worms. A month later, his teachings are formally condemned.

April 26, 1877: Residents of Minnesota observe a state-wide day of prayer, asking deliverance from a plague of grasshoppers that had ruined thousands of acres of crops. The plague ended during that summer.

April 26, 1992: Worshipers celebrate the first publically observed Russian Orthodox Easter/Pascha in Moscow in 74 years.

Friday, April 25, 2003
Easter Breakfast

The peace which the world neither knows nor can give. The peace which transcends all speculation and imaginings in such a supereminently high and deep and compelling manner that their heart would have collapsed for sheer over-abundance if what he was giving them was not, precisely, peace.

0 tidal wave of silence! 0 storm of calm! God’s paradise is so simple that it consists of a meal of honeycomb and baked fish. So earthly is his paradise that it is a fisherman’s morning at the Lake of Genesareth. The waves splash, the first rays of the sun shimmer through the fog. On the beach stands a man calling out and making signs. The nets are cast out on the right and at once they are teeming with a full catch. On the shore breakfast is ready. They all recline on the ground while the nets dry out, and, since no one needs to ask who this stranger is, the waves splash against the silence.

0 peace beyond all questioning: It is the Lord! Everything is as simple as if things had never been otherwise. The Master blesses the bread, as always, and hands it to them after he has broken it. As if the cross, the darkness, death itself had never been. “Peace be with you!” As if treachery, denial, and curses had never welled up in their hearts. “Peace be with you! Not as the world gives it do I give it to you. Let not your heart be anxious and shudder. For see: I have overcome the world.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar
From today's reading in Magnificat.

The Hope of the Resurrection

Though I have watched so many mourners weep
O'er the real dead, in dull earth laid asleep --
Those dead seemed but the shadows of my days
That passed and left me in the sun's bright rays.
Now though you go on smiling in the sun
Our love is slain, and love and you were one.
You are the first, you I have known so long,
Whose death was deadly, a tremendous wrong.
Therefore I seek the faith that sets it right
Amid the lilies and the candle-light.
I think on Heaven, for in that air so clear
We two may meet, confused and parted here.
Ah, when man's dearest dies, 'tis then he goes
To that old balm that heals the centuries' woes.
Then Christ's wild cry in all the streets is rife: --
"I am the Resurrection and the Life."

-Vachel Lindsay

Welcome to St Blog's

Barefoot in the Grass - Phil Younger
Sowing Justice - Amy
Improvised - Dave Pawlak
jessnjim - Jessica & Jim Cork

And a new addition (thanks to comments):

James Preece's blog

Today in Church history

April 25, 1214: Louis IX, king of France and saint, is born. Leader of the Seventh and Eighth Crusades (he died on the latter), he was known for his humility: he wore hair shirts and visited hospitals—where he emptied the bedpans.

April 25, 1599: Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan lord protector of England, is born near Cambridge. As lord protector he sought to allow more freedom of religion.

April 25, 1887: Radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller, known for his "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" and for cofounding Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, is born in Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 24, 2003
Cut Off!

Due to some misunderstandings between the person who owns the house in which I live and the BG&E (gas and electric), we were cut off yesterday, Wednesday, at 1:30 PM and just now restored - 4:30 PM on Thursday. Ugh. Thankfully it wasn't too cold and thankfully I wasn't involved in any major project for the websites on which I work. So we managed OK. A neighbor took me (and ONION) on a lovley drive to one of my favorite places: Annapolis. Even treated myself to a favorite I hadn't had in years: one of Annie's famous "foot long" hotdogs. Wonderful - sometimes a good hot dog can seem as delicious as a good steak! The other residents, too, did OK, but we are all glad to be restored to gas and electric once again (how much we take for granted!).

I am way behind so won't blog until tomorrow, God willing. Just wanted to fill you in a bit and let you why I didn't get around to any blogging today. A blessed Easter Week to all!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Where are the Bees?

by Carol Zaleski

from a medieval "Exultet roll" almost all of which have an illustration of "the bees"

...Along with "useless repetitions," the reform of the liturgy has sought to diminish distracting superfluities. This was, perhaps, not difficult to accomplish. It is relatively easy to screen out superfluous passages; any competent copy editor can do so. But while it is easy to analyze and change the text of a ritual, it is difficult and risky to re-conceive the complete world it was intended to invoke.

The liturgy of the Mass is less like words than like worlds. It is not a text to read for information but a place to enter for transformation. Like the magical paintings in the Mary Poppins book and in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the liturgy is never mere representation; it is entrance and ascent, a tirtha for crossing over, a spatial and temporal iconostasis that is a threshold of the heavenly kingdom and the life of the world to come. As is characteristic of entrances to the other world (I think. for example, of the medieval Purgatory of St. Patrick), it appears small and confined from without, but for those who enter, it opens onto endless vistas.

The liturgy is rather like one of those computer fantasy quest games, in which the hero must collect weapons, supplies and treasures, and avoid deadly dangers, and in which the key to survival is never to discount any object, however seemingly insignificant, that crosses one's path. If you kick a coin, pick it up, read its legend. If a troll hiccups, offer him a drink. If a leaf falls, look for its source. If an instruction is repeated three times, remember it three times. Never dismiss anything as superfluous; never disregard the literal words of a message, even if you think you know its underlying meaning. Never assume that an object is merely functional. Keep your mind open and your senses alert, and keep reinterpreting what you have already seen in light of the unfolding narrative.

A time when these lessons apply with special intensity is the Easter Vigil, the restoration of which was one of the great accomplishments of the pontificate of Pius XII. We possess the Easter Vigil in all its splendor in the reformed rite. But one day, prompted by a vigilant friend, I compared the official English liturgical translation of the Exsultet - the Easter Proclamation-to the normative Latin text.

We come to the great blessing of "the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death." The Paschal candle is offered, reprising the Passover pillar of fire; it is the burnt-offering that partakes of Christ's self-offering on the Cross; and it is the light of Christ undiminished by being spread abroad to scatter the darkness of sin and death.

One would expect that the translators of this great hymn would want to communicate its entire substance. But in the English column, there are conspicuous blank spaces. What was left out? An enchanting digression, paying homage to the bees who produced the wax for Paschal candle. I italicize omitted passages:

"Therefore, in the grace of this night, receive, holy Father, this evening sacrifice of praise, which most holy Church renders to you in this solemn offering of wax, through the hands of the ministers from the works of the bees.

Now we behold the splendors [praeconia] of this pillar, which the glowing fire enkindles in honor of God. Which, although divided into parts, suffers no loss from its light being shared. For it is nourished by the melting wax, which the mother bee brought forth into the substance of this precious lamp."

Just when the Exsultet reaches its most exalted pitch of praise, commemorating the mighty acts of creation and redemption, we stop to thank the bee for the wax. We do not even thank God for the bee. We contemplate beeswax, a peculiar substance that seems to possess two natures: animal and insensate thing, quick and dead, quickened again by fire, and quickened supernaturally by the flame of the resurrection. A great chain of being reaches down through the Exsultet, from angel to human to animal and even to matter itself.

An image of the bees from a medieval "Exultet roll"

Where are the bees in today's Easter Vigil? Were they omitted because few parishes can afford genuine beeswax? Or was it a reluctance to let the mother bee play a mediatrix role in the uniting of things divine and human--or worse, a co-creatrix role in the making of wax for the Paschal fire? A fear of multiplying intermediaries, of making the Paschal candle the object of magical veneration, of confusing the opus Dei with the opus apum, deprives us of the extraordinary catechetical power and dogmatic precision of this hymn, which teaches the lessons of Chalcedon and recapitulates redemption history by means of a bee.

In such superfluities, preserved by the wise bees of tradition, we may find the key to a sacramental understanding from which, in our current state of cultural diaspora, we have felt locked out. We may follow the mother bee back from our Babylonian captivity, her golden honey thread may lead us through the labyrinth of modernity to Jerusalem's gate.

Perhaps I exaggerate the sacramental significance of the bee. My point is only to ask whether or not we have been well served in this case by noble simplicity. Liturgical minimalism does more than exile some industrious bees; it drives a wedge between the interests of personal devotion and the interests of public worship.

It is undoubtedly true that preconciliar public worship was in danger of fragmenting into multiple disconnected exercises of private piety, whose objectives veered off from the central aim of the liturgy. As Cheslyn Jones points out, this is what marks periods of liturgical degeneration: "the use of the liturgy as a framework for purely musical composition, or as an occasion for reciting the rosary, or for mental prayer whether under the guidance of meditations on the life of Christ or on the incidents of his passion, as in medieval manuals of devotion for layfolk, or by the use of their more sophisticated modern equivalents."

I have to admit, however, that I would not mind witnessing some of this liturgical degeneration in my parish on Sundays. A truly corporate worship would be capable of tolerating special acts of personal devotion in its midst and would be open to being enriched by them. I will take my seat next to the old lady with her rosary beads, and not regret the fact that she is silent during the congregational hymn-singing and scarcely conscious of the moments of prescribed...

From another medieval "Exultet roll"

From Antiphon, Volume Four, Number One
reprinted with permission of The Society for Catholic Liturgy


Today in Church history

April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile."

April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The day before, Easter Sunday, both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, Calvin returned to the city he would forever be associated with.

April 23, 1968: The Evangelical United Brethren Church joins with the much larger Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist group in the world and America's second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention).

April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile."

April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The day before, Easter Sunday, both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, Calvin returned to the city he would forever be associated with (see issue 12: John Calvin).

April 23, 1968: The Evangelical United Brethren Church joins with the much larger Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist group in the world and America's second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention).

April 23, 1993. Lay Catholic Cesar Estrada Chavez founded and led the first successful farm workers' union in U.S. history. When he passed away on 23 April 1993, he was president of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Hans Urs von Balthasar

I notice some of my favorite bloggers have been discussing Hans Urs von Balthasar. These include Father Bryce Sibley, John da Fiesole, Stephen Riddle. Not all of them seem to share my own appreciation of von Balthasar (yet all 3 are far better thinkers and theologians than I am). My reasons for liking von B so well are many. Among them:

1. He speaks the language of love. I am attuned somewhat to this dimension. Von B has more than once spoken to my own heart and experience of love. Not many theologians have done this for me.

2. Von Balthasar attended the school of the saints. He lets the saints teach him about real theology. Few theologians seem to do this.

3. Von B knows the Bible as few seem to know it. He helped open many Scriptures to a deeper meaning for me. Few theologians have done this.

4. Von B is extraordinarily Trinitarian, Christological, and Marian. More perhaps than any theologian of whom I am aware.

5. Von Balthasar's theological work is a theology on the knees and not a theology of the academic chair or of "the head" - it leads to adoration and surrender. Again, few seem to convey this as well as von B.

6. Von B is a lover of Mozart (and trained as a musician). His theological works are like a symphony and perhaps can only be fully appreciated under that form. I don't pretend to grasp this; but I sense it and this appeals to me and my own preferences.

7. There seems a greatness about Hans Urs von Balthasar. The sheer volume of his works, and yet his main task was as a pastor of souls, a spiritual father, and founder. The writings were secondary. Incredible to me.

I will point to an appraisal that says much of what I have experienced - but far better and with a far deeper grasp than my own very simple and limited understandings. You can read Henri de Lubac's long appraisal, Hans Urs von Balthasar: Witness of Christ in the Church.

"And our problem does not end there: the reader must also be brought to see that he is never confronted with a purely theoretical construction; nor is von Balthasar a polisher of systems. Author of numerous books, some of them very long, neither is he a book factory! Every word he writes envisages an action, a decision. He has not the slightest time for "that certain economy of the mind which budgets and spares itself": everything is squandered that the "personal meeting" with God may be arrived at without delay.

This man is perhaps the most cultivated of his time. If there is a Christian culture, then here it is! Classical antiquity, the great European literatures, the metaphysical tradition, the history of religions, the diverse exploratory adventures of contemporary man and, above all, the sacred sciences, St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, patrology (all of it) - not to speak just now of the Bible - none of them that is not welcomed and made vital by this great mind. Writers and poets, mystics and philosophers, old and new, Christians of all persuasions - all are called on to make their particular contribution. All these are necessary for his final accomplishment, to a greater glory of God, the Catholic symphony."

Another appraisal worth reading (and shorter) is that written by two German bishops, Karl Lehmann and Walter Kasper (now both Cardinals).

Away grief's grasping, joyless days, dejection!

A while back I posted this lovely but somewhat sad and even perhaps depressing poem of Robert Frost:

Nature's first green is gold;
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf;
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day;
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

Here are poetic words of a believer in Christ, which surpasses the despair and losses of life and death, and affirms the good news of Christ Risen. These few words seem to me as among the finest ever written about the process of "divinization" "deification" or "theosis" as it is sometimes known in the Eastern Christian Tradition.

Away grief's gasping joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. Flesh fade: and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; world's wildfire; leave but ash:

In a flash
At a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is,
Since He was what I am, and
This jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood,

Immortal diamond,

Is immortal diamond.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins, excerpt from That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection

One says: nothing gold can stay.

The other says: I am...in Christ...immortal diamond.

While I know the struggle to believe in the midst of the pain and sorrows and losses and diminishments of life and death, I hope and pray I will also always believe in my depths, and know something of the "eternal beam". I am also a "jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood". But, O LORD, I believe that in You I will be "immortal diamond - immortal diamond."


The Easter Dance and Ball Game!

a vignette from the Catholic tradition

from MAN AT PLAY, chapter 4, The Heavenly Dance
by Hugo Rahner, S.J.

Detail of Fra Angelico's Last Judgment, the Dance of the Blessed

On Easter day and during the so-called libertas decembrica, i.e. about the feast of the Holy Innocents or the New Year, it was the custom for the bishop and his clergy to play a ball game. This was done either in
the courtyard of his palace or in the choir of the cathedral, a strict dance measure being followed.

John Beleth gives us the following account: "There are also a number of churches in which it is the custom even for bishops and archbishops to play with their subordinates in their courtyards. They even condescend to play ball with them."

William Durandus gives us rather more detailed information for the thirteenth century: "On this day in various places the prelates play with their clergy, either in the cloisters or in the bishop's palace. They even condescend to play ball or to organize dances and singing. This is called 'December freedom' after the custom that once upon a time prevailed among the heathen, according to which slaves, herdsmen and serving girls were permitted a certain freedom during this month and could even give orders to their masters."

The same kind of thing took place on the afternoon of Easter day. We possess a Ritual from Besancon for the year 1582 which gives the following directions for Vespers on that day: "After the ending of None the dances take place in the cloisters, or if the weather is wet, in the center of the nave. During these are to be sung the chants found in the processional. And when the dance is ended drinks of red and white wine will be served in the chapter house."

We possess an even more exact account of this Easter custom in the case of the cathedral of Auxerre. There the dance, combined with a sacral ball game, took place in the cathedral choir and we are expressly told - upon the so-called "labyrinth" which decorated the floor in the form of a mosaic: "choream circa daedalum ducentibus".

To the melody and rhythm of the Easter sequence, Victimae paschali, bishop and clerks moved in a carefully regulated dance order over the pattern of the labyrinth, throwing a ball to one another. This deeply symbolic practice was given the name pilota which is the Latin word for this Easter ball. It should be added that the custom of decorating the floor of the church with a labyrinth had already obtained in antiquity,
and such labyrinths were called daedala after Daedalus of Crete, the first mythical designer of these things. The French name is didale.

In the Christian interpretation, the labyrinth was a symbol either of the Sancta Ecclesia (Holy Church), as is proved by the superscription at Castellum Tingitii (Orleansville) in Algeria, or of the confusion of the world, from which one escaped after finding one's way through its devious patterns on the floor of the church. The superscription on the labyrinth in the church of St Sabinus in Piacenza, for instance, reads as follows:

Hunc mundum tipice Laberinthus denotat iste/intranti largus, recedenti set nimis artius. (The labyrinth in symbol represents this world, wide for him who is entering it, but too narrow for him who would leave it.)

Moving in solemn dance step along the convolutions of such a labyrinth, the bishop and the clerks of Auxerre would throw the Easter ball to one another, rejoicing like children in their redemption, for this was the evening of the day which had celebrated the victorious sun of Easter.

We shall surely not be in error in supposing that all this was a cultic development that had now taken on Christian colors, though its origin was the Easter ball game of the old Germanic tribes, for it is the
conquering sun that the ball represents, and, as I have pointed out elsewhere, the Christian feast of Easter is the great day of Christ the sun which goes on its thundering and blazing way across the labyrinth of this earth.

The deep significance of this Easter dance of the clergy of Auxerre is the same as that behind Hippolytus' great Easter hymn of praise which had been composed a thousand years before: "O thou leader of the mystic round-dance! 0 divine Pasch and new feast of all things! 0 cosmic festal gathering! 0 joy of the universe, honor, ecstasy, exquisite delight by which dark death is destroyed ... and the people that were in the depths arise from the dead and announce to all the hosts of heaven: 'The thronging choir from earth is coming home.'

And in this same chapter, he writes: "The Catholic liturgy, sustained as it is by chaste gesture and by movements so measured and slow that they seem to be weighed down by the very mysteries they are seeking to express - this Catholic liturgy is itself very much like a single piece of playing or miming." Guardini, too, speaks in term of the "playfulness" of the (traditional) Catholic liturgy and its dance-like quality.

"You shall dance in the ring together with the angels, around Him who is without beginning or end." (St Clement of Alexandria)

"Let us remember those who now , together with the angels, dance the dance of the angels around God" (St Basil the Great).

Today in Church history

April 22, 1418: The Council of Constance ends, having finally ended the Great Western Schism. When the schism began nearly 40 years earlier, three men had reasonable claims to the papacy. The council deposed all three and elected Martin V. (Martin then turned around and rejected further councils' right to depose a pope.)

April 22, 1724: German philosopher Immanuel Kant, a pivotal figure in the history of modern philosophy and theology, is born in Konigsberg, East Prussia.

April 22, 1669: Colonial religious leader Richard Mather (father of Increase, grandfather of Cotton) dies at age 63. He helped author the Bay Psalm Bookand the Cambridge Platform, which served for many years as the standard doctrinal statement for New England Congregationalism.

April 22, 1864: The motto "In God We Trust," conceived during the Civil War, first appears on American coinage.

Monday, April 21, 2003
I love my parish!

Father Paschal processing with the Gospel book on Easter. Photo by Pavel Chichikov.

How grateful I am to belong to a parish that celebrates the seasons of the Church in their fulness. You know what season it is just by entering the church (which has the powerful scent of incense and candles at all times - though less so in Lent). We are blessed to have a pastor and pastoral team who opt for maximalism rather than minimalism. And blessed to have a leader who knows much about the Church's liturgy and has a gift for the appropriate touches from beginning to end (I am often amazed at how everything matches and fits together).

The Word is proclaimed! The sacraments are celebrated! We have daily Offices as well! It is a liturgical, praying parish. And, though not rich, it has a wonderful outreach to the poor and needy. It is a holy place! And these photos do NOT do justice to the beauty of Saint Benedict parish in the west side of Baltimore (a rather tough neighborhood!).

Flowers, lights, whites, gold - all making Easter Night radiant and beautiful.


Sean Gallagher's blog, Nota Bene, has broken its Lenten fast and is now up and active again. Sean is one of the "pioneers" of Saint Blog's.

Pope woos conservatives expelled for rebellion

"THE Pope is to heal a breach with rebel arch-conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church by reinstating excommunicated followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who broke with Rome in 1988 to protest against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, including the abolition of the Latin Mass."

Ran across this unconfirmed report through Mark Shea's great blog, Catholic and Enjoying It.

Fascinating news!

We shall see.....


Some traditions call Easter Week "Bright Week" and in the Roman Rite the entire Octave of Easter is considered as the one celebration of Easter Day. In the Preface, on the 8 days of Easter, the Church sings "we praise you with greater joy than ever on this Easter Day". And she sings during the Octave: Haec dies quam fecit Dominus - this is the Day the Lord has made - let us rejoice and be glad in it."

I believe Easter Monday is a national holiday in many countries of Europe. (And when I was in school the whole week was off for Easter vacation). It is a special holy week of joy and exultation. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Today in Church history

April 21, 1109: Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury and one of the most profound thinkers of the Middle Ages, dies around age 76. He attained fame for his argument that faith is the precondition of knowledge ("credo ut intelligam"), his sometimes named - and sometimes caricatured - "satisfaction theory" of the atonement and for his ontological argument for God's existence. Von Balthasar says that the writings of Saint Anslem: "are radiant and perfectly balanced."

April 21, 1142: Medieval French philosopher, teacher, and theologian Pierre Abelard dies. Though well-known for his writings on revelation and the relationship between faith and knowledge, he is probably most remembered for his passionate relationship to Heloise, and the love letters written to her when she had become a nun (wrapped in mystery!).

April 21, 1855: Edward Kimball, a Sunday school teacher in Boston, leads 18-year-old shoe salesman Dwight L. Moody to Christ at the Holton Shoe Store. Moody went on to become the most successful evangelist of his day.

April 21, 1897: A.W. Tozer, devotional writer ("The Pursuit of God" and "The Knowledge of the Holy") and influential pastor in the Missionary Alliance Church, is born.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Whoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival!
Whoever is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord!

And if any be weary with fasting, let him now enjoy what he has earned.
If any have toiled from the first hour, let him receive his due reward.
If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast.
If any have come after the sixth hour, let him not doubt, for he too shall be deprived of nothing.
And if any have delayed to the ninth hour, let him not hesitate, but let him come too.
And he that has arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be troubled over his delay, for the Lord is gracious, and received the last even as the first.

He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour as well as to him that has toiled from the first.
Yea, to this one he gives, to that one he bestows; he honors the former's work; the latter's intent he praises.
Let all then enter the joy of our Lord!

Both the first and the last and those who come after, enjoy your reward!
Rich and poor, dance with one another, sober and slothful, celebrate the day.
Those who have kept the fast and those who have not, rejoice today, for the table is richly spread.
Fare royally upon it - the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.

All of you, enjoy the banquet of faith!
All enjoy the riches of his goodness.
Let no one cry over his poverty, for the universal Kingdom has appeared!
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again, for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He spoiled the power of hell when he descended thereto.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried, Death has been frustrated in meeting him below!

It is frustrated, for it is destroyed.
It is frustrated, for it is annihilated.
It is frustrated, for now it is made captive.
For it grabbed a body and discovered God.
It took earth and behold! it encountered heaven.
It took what was visible, and was overcome by what was invisible.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Death, where is your victory?

Christ is risen,
and the demons are cast down.
Christ is risen,
and life is set free.
Christ is risen,
and the tomb is emptied of the dead.

For Christ, having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who sleep.

To him be glory and power forever and ever!

This incomparable proclamation of the Glad Tidings of Christ Risen and of "salvation by grace" is read at the Pascha Services of the Byzantine Churches.

New Life at Easter!

Thousands upon thousands were baptized and received into full communion with the Catholic Church at this year's Easter Vigil. In the humblest parish church and in the splendor of Saint Peter's in the Vatican. The Pope did what so many other priests did: he baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Pope John Paul II baptizes a man during the Holy Easter vigil mass in St. Peter's Basilica April 19, 2003. In his Easter message, the pope made a ringing call for peace around the world and said Iraqis had to take charge of the rebuilding of their country with the help of the international community.

The New Fire in Moscow

Catholics light candles from a bonfire as part of services on the eve of Easter in front of the Catholic Church of Immaculate Conception in downtown Moscow, Saturday, April 19, 2003. Orthodox Easter will be celebrated next Sunday.


It's late at night but I am not yet in bed. (This might help explain why this piece may not be too well put together!).

I went to the Easter Vigil which started at 8:30PM and ended about 11PM - and it was magnificent in every way! I was fortunate to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper and the Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion - and all I can say is that I love my parish and love the way the liturgy is celebrated! The Triduum was celebrated with a fulness and a sense of proportion and a Godward orientation that never fails to move me in my very depths - and the beauty of the sights and sounds and fragrances wraps around me and carries me on into the Mystery (and even when I am very distracted and far away in mind). Maybe I will get the inspiration to spell out a bit more why I think my parish's Liturgy is so wonderful.

I am very blessed to belong to such a parish as Saint Benedict here in Baltimore.

I hope and pray you, too, were able to celebrate the Triduum with the riches of the Catholic tradition and its profound spirituality and ethos.

And even if not, I hope you had a good and helpful Lent and an enriching Triduum and now a Paschal season of new life and deeper joy.


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