ANNUNCIO VOBIS GAUDIUM MAGNUM QUOD EST "ALELUIA"
Refrain: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
O sons and daughters of the King, Whom heavenly hosts in glory sing, Today the grave has lost its sting! Alleluia!
(refrain after each verse)
That Easter morn, at break of day,
The faithful women went their way
To seek the tomb where Jesus lay. Alleluia!
An angel clad in white they see,
Who sit and speaks unto the three, "Your Lord will go to Galilee." Alleluia!
That night the apostles met in fear; Among them came their master dear And said, "MY peace be with you here." Alleluia!
When Thomas first the tidings heard That they had seen the risen Lord, He doubted the disciples’ word. Alleluia!
"My pierced side, O Thomas, see, And look upon my hands, my feet; Not faithless but believing be." Alleluia!
No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side; "You are my Lord and God!" he cried. Alleluia!
How blest are they who have not seen And yet whose faith has constant been, For they eternal life shall win. Alleluia!
On this most holy day of days
Be laud and jubilee and praise:
To God your hearts and voice raise. Alleluia!
English translation of O Filii et Filiae (by Jean Tisserand, d. 1494)
HOMILY FOR THE EASTER VIGIL
by Abbot Paul of Belmont U.K.
“The angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it.” What strikes one about the four versions of the Resurrection found in the gospels, is that they are quite different from one another, and yet they have much in common. However, not one of the evangelists describes the moment in which Christ rose from the dead, what really happened or how it was done. In Matthew we see the angel descend from heaven and roll back the stone. It’s a highly dramatic scene, what with the earthquake, the guards frightened and lying there “like dead men,” then the very sight of the angel, “his face like lightening, his robe white as snow.” He tells Mary of Magdala and the other Mary that “Jesus, who was crucified, is not here: he has risen, as he said he would,” then he invites them to “come and see the place where he lay.” He tells them not to be afraid, but to go quickly and tell the disciples that, “he has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee.”
On their way, “coming to meet them,” there is Jesus. They fall down before him, clasping his feet. “Fear not,” he says, “go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; there they will see me.” Note that the Risen Christ no longer calls them disciples but brothers.
And there we have it, but what happened to Jesus once he was left alone in the tomb on Good Friday evening and the stone rolled up against the entrance? We often say that Jesus rested in the tomb or that he slept in death, but that wasn’t the case. In the Apostles’ Creed, based on the Old Roman Creed, we proclaim that, “I believe… in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who… suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose from the dead.” What do we mean when we say we believe that, “he descended into hell”? In his famous Easter Sermon, which is read as the climax of the Easter Vigil Liturgy in the Byzantine Churches, St John Chrysostom says,
“Let no one lament their poverty; for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for their sins; for the light of forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death; for the death of the Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed death by undergoing death. He has despoiled hell by descending into hell. Hell was filled with bitterness when it tasted his flesh, as Isaiah foretold: “Hell was filled with bitterness when it met you face to face,” filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing; filled with bitterness, for it was mocked; filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown; filled with bitterness, for it was destroyed; filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains. It received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven. It received what it saw, and was overpowered by what it did not see. O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are cast down. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns in freedom. Christ is risen, and the grave is emptied of the dead. For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who sleep. To him be glory and dominion to the ages of ages. Amen.”
On behalf of Fr Prior and the Monastic Community, I wish you all a very Happy Easter.
by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
When Christ first rose from the tomb and appeared to His disciples and the myrrh-bearing women, He greeted them with the word “Rejoice!”. And then later when He appeared to the Apostles His first words were “Peace be unto you!”; peace, because their confusion was very great – the Lord had died. It seemed as though all hope had perished for the victory of God over human wickedness, for the victory of good over evil. It would seem that life itself had been slain and light had faded. All that remained for the disciples who had believed in Christ, in life, in love, was to go on existing, for they could no longer live. Having tasted eternal life they were now condemned to expect cruel persecution and death at the hands of Christ’s enemies. “Peace be unto you”, proclaimed Christ. “I have arisen, I am alive, I am with you, and henceforth nothing – neither death nor persecution – will ever separate us or deprive you of eternal life, the victory of God”. And then, having convinced them of His physical resurrection, having restored their peace and an unshakable certainty of faith, Christ uttered words which may in the present age sound menacing and frightening to many, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you”. Only a few hours after Christ’s death on the cross, not long after the fearful night in Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas when Christ had been taken by His enemies, condemned to death, led out beyond the city walls and died on the cross, these words sounded menacing. And it was only faith, the conquering certainty that Christ had risen, that God had conquered, that the Church had become an invincible force that transformed these words into words of hope and triumphant God-speed.
And the disciples went out to preach; nothing could stop them. Twelve men confronted the Roman empire. Twelve defenceless men, twelve men without legal rights were out to preach the simplest message, that divine love had entered the world and that they were willing to give their lives for the sake of this love, in order that others might believe and come to life, and that a new life might begin for others through their death. [I Cor. IV :9-13]
Death was indeed granted them; there is not a single apostle except St. John the Divine who did not die a martyr’s death. Death was granted them, and persecution and suffering and a cross (II Cor. VI: 3-14).
But faith, faith in Christ, in God Incarnate, faith in Christ crucified and risen, faith in Christ who brought unquenchable love into the world, has triumphed. “Our faith which has conquered the world is the victory.”
This preaching changed the attitude of man to man; every person became precious in the eyes of another. The destiny of the world was widened and deepened; it burst the bounds of earth and united earth to heaven. And now we Christians, in the words of a western preacher, in the person of Jesus Christ, have become the people to whom God has committed the care of other people; that they should believe in themselves because God believes in us; that they should hope for all things because God puts His hope in us; that they should be able to carry our victorious faith through the furnace of horror, trials, hatred and persecution – that faith which has already conquered the world, in the faith in Christ, God crucified and risen.
So let us also stand up for this faith. Let us proclaim it fearlessly, let us teach it to our children, let us bring them to the sacraments of the Church which, even before they can understand it, unite them with God and plant eternal life in them.
All of us, sooner or later, will stand before the judgment of God and will have to answer whether we were able to love the whole world – believers and unbelievers, the good and the bad – with the sacrificial, crucified, all-conquering love with which God loves us. May the Lord give us invincible courage, triumphant faith, joyful love in order that the kingdom for which God became man should be established, that we should truly become godly, that our earth should indeed become heaven where love, triumphant love lives and reigns. Christ is risen!
modified on 28 December 2007 at 14:00 ••• 2,431 views
Victory over Death
This and Concerning Eternal Life are sermons given by Fr Alexander Men. Victory over Death is an Easter sermon, simple but with some touches of interest, from a defunct website of Roman Pomarenko.
With the setting of the sun on April 8th the Sabbath rest had come to an end but the women still had to buy the aromatic powders and ointments which were used to embalm. Thus visitation of the tomb was postponed to the morning of the following day. Of the guards they knew nothing; they were only bothered by the thought: Who will help us roll away the heavy stone?
Mary Magdalene came earlier than her friends. In the twilight of the dawn, coming up to the cave, she stopped in confusion: the stone had been rolled away.
What did this mean? Were not the enemies of the Teacher satisfied even after His death?
Meanwhile Salome and Mary, the mother of James arrived and, looking into the cave, were convinced that it is empty. In tears Mary Magdalene ran to Peter and John and told them the horrible news: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have put Him.” Both disciples hurriedly left the house where they were hiding and ran after Mary to Joseph’s garden.
At first they ran together, but late Simon fell behind and John reached the cave first. Seeing that Mary was right he got caught up in speculation: Who would violate the law and embitter a place of eternal rest? The youth leaned towards the opening but strongly hesitated to enter.
When Peter arrived at the enclosure he was virtually out of breath but he was not the sort of person to think things out at length. Not stopping, he immediately entered the dark cavern. That emboldened John and he followed Simon. Next to the stone mat they saw the shroud and a cover for the face. The one who had been buried had disappeared.
The disciples were afraid to ask questions, protest or seek the body. They returned to the city filled with sorrowful doubt. Clearly, their enemies had decided to make fun of them as long as possible.
Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb alone. Immersed in her owe, she did not notice that the rest of the women had gone somewhere. Literally not believing the misfortune, Mary again drew near to the opening of the cave and unexpectedly saw there two unknown persons in white robes.
“Woman, why do you weep?” they asked.
“Because you have taken my Lord and I do not know where you have laid Him.”
A hope awoke in her: maybe these people will explain to me what happened? But at the same moment Mary Magdalene felt the presence of someone standing behind her and she turned around to see who it was.
“Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?” asked the stranger.
Thinking only about her concern, Mary decided that standing in front of her was a gardener who would definitely know where the body was.
“Sir”, she said pleading, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have placed Him and I will take Him.”
“Mariam!” shouted out a painfully familiar voice. Everything inside her went topsy-turvy. There was no doubt. It is He…
“Rabuni!” cried Mary Magdalene and fell at His feet.
“Do not touch me”, Jesus warned her, “for I have not yet gone to my Father; but go to my brethren and tell them: ‘I go up to my Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’”
Driven crazy with joy, barely understanding what had happened, Mary ran out of the garden. The herald of the rare, unheard of news ran into the house, where mourning reigned, but not one of her friends took her amazing words seriously. All decided that the poor woman had gone out of her mind. They thought the same thing when, after her, there appeared Joanna the wife of Chuza, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. They, speaking all at once, began to give testimony that the Teacher is alive, that they had seen Him with their own eyes. They told of how when they had gone down into the cave, as Mary Magdalene was leaving to call the disciples, and found there the youth in a white robe.
“Do not be frightened!” he said. “You are seeking Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One. He is risen, He is not here. There is the place, where He was laid. But go and tell His disciples and Peter, that He will precede you to Galilee. There you will see Him, as He said to you.”
The women admitted that at first it was horrible for them to speak of this vision, but that later Jesus Himself appeared to them on the road and repeated the order for all of them to go to Galilee.
The apostles just looked at each other, listening to this account. Luke notes that to the apostles “this story of the women seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.” After the recent disaster, the disciples were far from hoping for a miracle and least of all did they expect that soon God would transform them from people who had been shaken and nearly destroyed by catastrophe into the proclaimers of a new faith.
The annals of history contain much what is incomprehensible, but one can safely say, that the least probable historical event is the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the mystery which crowned His life. It is correct to say that this mystery goes beyond the bounds of what is accessible to human reason. Even so there are observable facts, found in the field of vision of a historian. At the same time as the Church which had barely been born seemed to have perished forever, when the project put forth by Jesus lay in ruins and His disciples had lost all faith—everything suddenly changes radically. Exultant joy replaced disappointment and despair; those who had only recently abandoned the Teacher and denied Him, boldly proclaim the victory of the Son of God. Something happened, without which there would be no Christianity.
That “something” was the revelation of the Son of God in glory, which Jesus Himself had foretold to Caiphas at His trial. The high priest perceived blasphemy in His words, and the tragic end of the Nazarene was to confirm the opinion of the Sanhedrin. To the Apostles the paschal appearances showed the truthfulness of prophecy. Jesus revealed Himself now not only as the Christ and the Teacher, but as the Lord, the Lord who is the incarnate Living God.
Neither Pilate nor the members of the tribunal saw the Risen One. If it had been the irrefutable and obvious nature of a miracle which would have forced them to confess Him, that would have been an injustice to the spirit which is free to oppose God. Only those who loved Christ, who were chosen by Him for service, could “see His Glory, the Glory that is His as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
For the apostles the Resurrection was not only the joy of again finding the Teacher; it meant victory over the powers of darkness, it became the guarantee of the final triumph of God’s Truth, sign of the invincibility of the Good personified in Jesus of Nazareth.
“If Christ is not risen,” says the Apostle Paul, “vain is our preaching and vain is our faith.”
This is the thought by which Christianity will live, for on the day of Pascha the Church does not merely confess faith in the immortality of the soul, but the overcoming of death, darkness and disintegration.
“Christ is Risen, and Hades is overthrown! Christ is Risen and the demons have fallen! Christ is Risen and the Angels rejoice! Christ is Risen and Life reigns!”
EASTER MASS IN ROME
HOMILY FOR EASTER DAY
By Abbot Paul of Belmont U.K.
Easter Sunday 2014
“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.” These are the words addressed by Mary of Magdala to “Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,” in St John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb that first Easter morning.
The details in John’s version of the Resurrection are fascinating. To begin with, Mary Magdalene is alone and not with the other women, as the other three gospels relate, and when she goes to the tomb on the first day of the week, it’s still dark, yet she sees that the stone has been moved away. She runs off and finds Peter and the Beloved Disciple, who hadn’t been anywhere near the tomb since Jesus was buried. Why does she say, ”they have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” and, if she was alone, why does she say, “we don’t know where they have put him”? Details, but important ones, for it’s the Resurrection of Jesus that John is writing about, the most life-transforming event in the history of the universe, one that changed our vision of suffering and death for ever.
At this stage Mary hasn’t seen the angel, nor has she looked inside the tomb, something she will do later when she returns to the garden. Only Peter and the other disciple go into the empty tomb and see the linen cloths on the ground. Mary fears that the body has been removed or stolen: why else would the stone have been moved away? But “we”, why “we” when she is alone? She is the first to see that the tomb has been disturbed, so perhaps speaks in the name of the whole community of disciples. How true that the traditional title given to her, apostola apostolorum, the Apostle to the apostles! Later, she will be the first to see Jesus and speak with him, though to begin with she takes him to be the gardener, and she will be the first to tell the world, “I have seen the Lord.”
Now the Fourth Gospel has one constant theme throughout: personal encounter with Jesus that leads to faith. Think of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well or of Nicodemus, who visits Jesus by night, think of his close friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus or of that special relationship with the disciple he loved, the one who stood at the foot of the cross with Mary his mother and who now runs faster than Simon Peter and, looking into the tomb, is the first to believe in the Resurrection. And think of Thomas, doubting Thomas, who could not believe the testimony of the other disciples, yet when he sees Jesus face to face a week later in the upper room, gets on his knees and exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” It takes time and a personal encounter with Jesus to believe. All these were really encounters with the Risen Christ, for the gospel was written in the light of the Resurrection, and to bring us to believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
All of us here this morning have come together to celebrate Easter because we too have had a personal encounter with the Risen Christ and the experience of his friendship and love. As a result of that meeting, each one of us has a very intimate and unique relationship with him, a friendship that no one else has, a friendship that strengthens our faith and supports our weakness, even when the going gets hard and we are tempted to doubt. The great thing about Jesus is that he meets us where we are; he comes towards us on the road of life, not to judge but to forgive, not to condemn but to save.
St Paul wrote to the Romans, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
The prayer of the Belmont Community today is that you all come to share in the life of Risen Christ, our hope and our salvation. Amen.
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CHRIST IS RISEN!!