Home' The Southern Cross : April 2017 Contents OPINION
THE SOUTHERN CROSS | www.thesoutherncross.org.au
Without doubt, the most dramatic
liturgy of the entire Church year is the
Easter Vigil, which is the climax of
the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday,
Good Friday, Easter Sunday) and
anticipates the great season of Easter
that will continue until Pentecost.
From the blessing of the Easter fire
outside the church to the sending forth
with the Easter dismissal, this liturgy
encapsulates our faith.
The Easter candle represents Christ,
the light of the world. It is lit from the
Easter fire and carried into the church.
“The light of Christ,” the deacon
chants, and the people all respond,
“thanks be to God”. Our hearts are
joyful because we have Christ to light
proclamation, announces in song
Christ’s victory over death. It reminds
us that through his resurrection “things
of heaven are wed to those of earth, and
the divine to the human,” and that his
most marvellous event calls for great
rejoicing: “Let all corners of the earth
be glad...Let Mother Church rejoice...
let this holy building shake with joy”.
Then follows the Liturgy of the
Word, where the story of our salvation
is proclaimed through the seven
readings from the Old Testament. The
world has been created by the hand of
God and humans have been formed in
the image of God. Just as the Chosen
People were rescued from the slavery
of Egypt so we, redeemed by Christ,
are freed from the slavery of sin. Just
as God called the Chosen People back
with love and pity when they failed
to keep their side of the covenant, so
God continually offers us mercy and
forgiveness. Walk in the way of God,
we are told, and we will live in peace
Finally, we hear the words of St Paul
reminding us that just as Christ was
raised from the dead, so we too are
“alive for God in Christ Jesus”. We
respond with the Easter Alleluia, before
listening again to the story of the first
Easter morning, when the empty tomb
witnessed to Christ’s resurrection.
It is in this joyous atmosphere that
the baptisms of the ‘elect’ take place.
As the water is poured over them, they
descend with Christ into the tomb
and emerge with him to new life. The
name given to the newly-baptised,
neophytes, means “newly-planted.”
What a beautiful image for those who
are to spend the rest of their lives
growing in love of God and love of
We all renew our baptismal promises
during the Easter Vigil, remembering
that we too have put on Christ. An
ancient sermon puts it this way: “Rise
up, work of my hands, you who were
created in my image. Rise up, for you
are in me and I am in you; together we
form only one person and we cannot be
separated.” The priest then sprinkles us
with Easter water, a physical reminder
of our baptism. Do we realise just what
a wonderful gift and privilege baptism
As we offer the bread and wine
during this Easter Vigil Mass, we
offer our own lives and our world too,
praying that they will be transformed
by the power of the Holy Spirit. This
bread and this wine will be given back
to us during communion as the body
and blood of Christ – the seal of our
baptism, for only the baptised are
called to the table of the Lord.
Filled with Easter joy, we are sent
forth to celebrate ‘the gladness of
the Paschal feast’ for the next 50
days. In the early Church, Christians
were forbidden to kneel during the
Easter season, because this posture of
penitence was not fitting for such a
time of joy.
Let us participate to the full in the
ceremonies of the Easter Triduum, the
‘three days that are one’, culminating
in the Easter Vigil, the night on which
new Christians are made and ‘old’
Jenny O’Brien is liturgy educator
at the Office for Worship.
lights the way
This Saturday Christians will celebrate the Easter Vigil
which is the first official celebration of the resurrection
of Jesus. It is also the time that a young person or adult
preparing for baptism is received into full communion
with the Church, explains Jenny O’Brien.
Thou shalt not worry
Going to Mass on Sundays can be
problematic at times. Faced with the choice
of a walk down the beach, breakfast at
the local cafe or watching a young family
member’s sporting event can seem a lot
more desirable than sitting inside a church for an hour, even
more so when we are enjoying beautiful autumn weather.
But all of those other past-times give us short-lived
enjoyment, or a fair bit of disappointment if the young
family member loses that oh-so -important game. Once
we’ve finished our coffee and walked the dog, we move
on to the next activity that we think will
make us happy. And then we go back
Our experience of celebrating Mass
can vary, depending on the quality of
the music and liturgy, the relevance of
the homily and the participation of the
congregation. It might also depend on
our own mood and state of mind. But
there is usually a take-home message
and a spiritual nourishment that
sustains us as we go about our daily
lives in the week ahead.
Take, for example, the reading
of Matthew 6:24-34 from Sunday
February 6 which begins:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry
about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will
wear. Is not life more than food, and
the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet
your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more
valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add
a single hour to your life?
When I walked to Mass on this day, I had a fleeting
thought that perhaps I should be doing something else
but when I listened to the Word and saw the phrase ‘Don’t
worry, be happy’ written in bold on the overhead slides, I
was very pleased with the choice I’d made.
It reminded me of my dear mum, now departed, who
was fond of saying “well there’s no point in worrying, it
won’t change anything”. It was a pragmatic philosophy
she applied to raising five children who could have caused
her a great deal of worry at most stages of their lives!
As a mother, wife, daughter, sister and full-time worker,
there is never any shortage of things to worry about so
what a great way to start my week with the knowledge
that God is telling me not to be anxious. It was like this
huge weight off my shoulders as I was reminded that
worrying doesn’t do any good and putting your trust in
God is the best way of dealing with any of the seemingly
difficult aspects of our lives. It’s also a lot cheaper than
seeing a therapist!
It’s not that bad things will never happen; they can and
they do. But constantly worrying
about what might or might not
happen is merely a distraction from
the main game, which is to see all
the good and beautiful things around
us, to live our lives to the full and to
share our gifts with others.
Pope Francis spoke last month
about the futility of worrying, telling
pilgrims in St Peter’s Square that
aside from “taking away serenity
and balance...this anxiety is often
useless, because it isn't able to
change the course of events”.
“God is not distant or anonymous:
he is our refuge, the source of our
serenity and our peace,” he said.
Over the Easter period, many non-
practising Catholics will attend the Stations of the Cross
on Good Friday and the Easter Vigil or Sunday Mass. It
might well be the only time, other than Christmas, that
they step inside a church this year.
But rather than worry about the fact that these people
don’t attend Mass regularly, we should be happy that they
are still connected to their faith and be confident that the
Easter message of hope will leave its mark.
When Pope Francis was quizzed recently about
‘declining membership’, he said we shouldn’t be
concerned about “catching fish” but, rather, the work of all
Christians was to cast the net.
“It’s the Lord who catches the fish,” he said.
Once again, another good reason not to worry!
about what might or
might not happen is
merely a distraction
from the main game,
which is to see all the
good and beautiful
things around us, to live
our lives to the full and
to share our gifts with
DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY: Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square about trusting God instead
of worrying about tomorrow. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Links Archive March 2017 May 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page