"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Monday, 6 April 2015


Easter Vigil in our Pachacamac monstery
We are getting a reputation for painting paschal candles
even though we have done no advertising.

Holy Saturday 2015: THE EASTER VIGIL

            “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Who knows why the compilers of the Lectionary omitted that final verse of St Mark Chapter 16 from tonight’s Gospel reading, ending as it does with those extraordinary and unexpected words, “for they were afraid.” How strange that the three women, who had been so brave until now and had even entered the tomb on seeing that the stone, which was very big, had been rolled away, should be filled with amazement and fear at hearing the message of the Easter angel, “There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He is risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him.”
Although the women eventually did tell the disciples and Peter what “the young man in the white robe seated on the right-hand side” had said, their initial reaction was one of fear and they fled for their lives. Just imagine if you saw a dead person on your way home tonight, alive and sitting on a tombstone. You’d be frightened out of your wits. How often had Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not be afraid”? Yet, they were still afraid, especially after the events of Good Friday. Why? There is only one thing more frightening than death and that is life, life after death. Things would be far simpler if this were it. We could romp through doing what we liked without a worry in the world. We could give into temptation, enjoy our sins instead of feeling guilty and break every rule in the book. If death were the end, then we could get away with anything. But the Resurrection warns us that there is life after death and that means having to account for everything. The Resurrection demands accountability and responsibility before God and before our neighbour, and that’s a very frightening thought.
But the women weren’t frightened for that reason. They were good souls, with nothing to fear. They were followers of Jesus and, unlike the apostles, had been faithful to him even when he was taken prisoner, condemned to death and crucified. They had stood by, looking on as he died on the cross and was buried in the tomb. It had been a rushed affair, that burial, so “when the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought spices with which to anoint him.” So it was that, “very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.” There they became the very first to learn of the Resurrection. They were amazed and frightened out of their wits. Without thinking, they fled. We, however, have had time to think and we have the great advantage of knowing what happened next. The Church, this community of believers, is still here 2000 years on, because of what happened that first Easter sometime after sunset on the Sabbath and before sunrise of the first day of the week. The Angel of the Resurrection tells us tonight, “He is risen; he is not here.” “He is risen” rather than “He has risen” because Jesus is alive and is with us now and always.

So, what does the Resurrection of Jesus mean to us? Has it really changed our lives and taken away our fears? In baptism we died with Christ in order to live with him. Do we recognise the living Christ within us? Do we see the living Christ in our neighbour? And is it possible for us to say with St Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”? St Gregory of Nazianzus wrote these powerful words: “Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with him. Yesterday I was dead with Christ; today I am sharing in his Resurrection. Yesterday I was buried with Christ; today I am waking with him from the sleep of death.”

On behalf of Fr Prior and the Monastic Community, I wish you all a very happy and holy Easter. Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia. 

the "Exultet" in Pachacamac Monastery

Evening came and morning came, the first day

We started to have the Easter Vigil at 4 o'clock in the morning because, when we lived in Tambogrande we were so close to the Equator that it only took half an hour to move from darkness to light and we were able to begin the Vigil in complete darkness and be sure that, by the time we came to sing the "Gloria", we were singing in the light of day.  The symbolism was striking.  Unfortunately, although we are in the same country, Lima is so far from the Equator that even though the "Gloria" has been sung and we have now reached the sermon, we are still in total darkness.   Back in Tambogrande, the Vigil was a perfect symbol of Holy Week: we move from darkness to light, from death to new life, from sin to grace, from evening to morning, which is the rhythm of the old creation as told in Genesis and of the new creation revealed in Christ's death and resurrection.

In Orthodox countries, like Greece and Russia, people do not use normal greetings when they meet; they do not say "Good morning" or "Good evening," during Easter tide: one says, "Christ is risen!" and the other answers, "He is risen indeed!"   This is said with joy because the Risen Christ is not a long way away: he is very near.  In this Mass you will receive him and he will dwell within you.  He said, "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, I will dwell in him and he in me."   He lives in Christians, and he is not lazy like us.  He will spend the time within you transforming you, so that you will, one day, be like he was at the Transfiguration.   I know that you are unaware of this great truth and we all too easily forget it.   

There are two dimensions to our spiritual life, what we try to do, which we are aware of, and what Christ does in us, which is much more important, but of which we are largely unaware.   Your blood flows in your veins.  Are you aware of it?  Can you feel it?  No?   Yet, if your blood stops flowing, you are dead. Important things can happen in us without our being aware of them.  Have you ever been discouraged because you always confess the same things in Confession, and you wonder if you will ever progress?   Actually, you probably won't progress very much.  If that were the only element in your Christian life, your discouragement would be justified; but it isn't.  All God asks is that you keep trying.   If you do that, keep trying, the risen Christ will be busy at work transforming you from the inside, and, one day, you will shine like the sun.   Do not put your trust in your own progress but in Christ who is Risen from the dead and who takes up his abode in you.  A happy Easter to you all!!
Easter Vigil Mass 2015
Pachacamac Monastery

Pope Benedict celebrating Easter


Saint Peter's Square
Easter Sunday, 12 April 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Christ, our Paschal lamb, has been sacrificed!” (1 Cor 5:7). On this day, Saint Paul’s triumphant words ring forth, words that we have just heard in the second reading, taken from his First Letter to the Corinthians. It is a text which originated barely twenty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and yet – like many Pauline passages – it already contains, in an impressive synthesis, a full awareness of the newness of life in Christ. The central symbol of salvation history – the Paschal lamb – is here identified with Jesus, who is called “our Paschal lamb”. The Hebrew Passover, commemorating the liberation from slavery in Egypt, provided for the ritual sacrifice of a lamb every year, one for each family, as prescribed by the Mosaic Law. In his passion and death, Jesus reveals himself as the Lamb of God, “sacrificed” on the Cross, to take away the sins of the world. He was killed at the very hour when it was customary to sacrifice the lambs in the Temple of Jerusalem. The meaning of his sacrifice he himself had anticipated during the Last Supper, substituting himself – under the signs of bread and wine – for the ritual food of the Hebrew Passover meal. Thus we can truly say that Jesus brought to fulfilment the tradition of the ancient Passover, and transformed it into his Passover.
Easter Mass in St Peter's Square 2015

On the basis of this new meaning of the Paschal feast, we can also understand Saint Paul’s interpretation of the “leaven”. The Apostle is referring to an ancient Hebrew usage: according to which, on the occasion of the Passover, it was necessary to remove from the household every tiny scrap of leavened bread. On the one hand, this served to recall what had happened to their forefathers at the time of the flight from Egypt: leaving the country in haste, they had brought with them only unleavened bread. At the same time, though, the “unleavened bread” was a symbol of purification: removing the old to make space for the new. Now, Saint Paul explains, this ancient tradition likewise acquires a new meaning, once more derived from the new “Exodus”, which is Jesus’ passage from death to eternal life. And since Christ, as the true Lamb, sacrificed himself for us, we too, his disciples – thanks to him and through him – can and must be the “new dough”, the “unleavened bread”, liberated from every residual element of the old yeast of sin: no more evil and wickedness in our heart.

“Let us celebrate the feast … with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”. This exhortation from Saint Paul, which concludes the short reading that was proclaimed a few moments ago, resounds even more powerfully in the context of the Pauline Year. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the Apostle’s invitation; let us open our spirit to Christ, who has died and is risen in order to renew us, in order to remove from our hearts the poison of sin and death, and to pour in the life-blood of the Holy Spirit: divine and eternal life. In the Easter Sequence, in what seems almost like a response to the Apostle’s words, we sang: “Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere” – we know that Christ has truly risen from the dead. Yes, indeed! This is the fundamental core of our profession of faith; this is the cry of victory that unites us all today. And if Jesus is risen, and is therefore alive, who will ever be able to separate us from him? Who will ever be able to deprive us of the love of him who has conquered hatred and overcome death?

The Easter proclamation spreads throughout the world with the joyful song of the Alleluia. Let us sing it with our lips, and let us sing it above all with our hearts and our lives, with a manner of life that is “unleavened”, that is to say, simple, humble, and fruitful in good works. “Surrexit Christus spes mea: praecedet vos in Galileam” – Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee. The Risen One goes before us and he accompanies us along the paths of the world. He is our hope, He is the true peace of the world. Amen!

Our chapel, dressed for Easter

Easter Day Celebration
Pachacamac Monastery

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Abbot Paul with our community in Pachacamac, Lima, just before Easter

Easter Sunday 2015

                  “Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead.”

At the house of Cornelius, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed those gathered there for this new Pentecost. What he had to tell them was something startling. It was about Jesus of Nazareth, whom most people presumed to be dead and buried. But Peter was saying something that took your breath away: Jesus, who had been put to death by crucifixion, had been raised to life by God three days later. Not only that, Peter was even suggesting that Jesus was God, for “all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.” The Pharisees had been right, only God can forgive sin, yet Jesus often told people “your sins are forgiven”. Now here was Peter claiming that sins would be forgiven in Jesus’ name, if people believed in his resurrection. Jesus, then, is the Son of God, equal to the Father. “God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good,” healing and forgiving all those who have faith.

                  But Peter was also claiming something else: “Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead.” Who was he talking about? The Apostles, Our Lady, Mary Magdalene and the other women, who formed part of the inner circle that met in the Upper Room. Then there were friends, such as Mary, Martha and Lazarus; finally those he had healed like Bartimaeus and the man born blind, the lepers and the paralytics, the woman with the haemorrhage, the widow of Nain and her son, the centurion and his daughter. What about the small boy who had provided the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand? Then there were those who had been with him at the end: Veronica and Simon of Cyrene, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, Cleopas of Emmaus and his companion.  

                  To all these you can add St Paul. Not only does he give us the earliest account of the Last Supper, he was able to write what we heard this morning. “Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, by casting away the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” We can say that all those, who throughout history have believed in Jesus and lived in him, those who have done in his memory what he told them to do, “have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead”.

                  That is what we are doing this morning. We are celebrating the Eucharist, the Mass, in memory of his death and resurrection and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we represent and make those saving events a present reality in the life of the Church. That, after all, is the meaning of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. At this Paschal Banquet, we are present with Jesus in the Upper Room, we are with him on Calvary and in the Easter Garden. Like Mary Magdalene we see the stone rolled away. Like Peter and the Beloved Disciple we look inside the empty tomb; we see and we believe. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus our hearts burn within us as Jesus walks with us and explains the scriptures to us and we recognise him in the breaking of bread. Like the disciples at Pentecost we too have received the gift of the Spirit, the fullness of grace, and now we too bear witness to Jesus. We proclaim him to be Lord and Saviour and that in his Church we find salvation. “Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead.”

In the Victimae Paschali we sing the words, “Dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus” – The Lord of life is dead yet lives and reigns.” Where there is death, there is life, where there is sorrow, joy, where there is darkness, light, where there is hatred, love, and where there is doubt, there is also faith. He is dead, yet he lives.

On behalf of Fr Prior and the Monastic Community I wish you and your loved ones a joyful and a holy Easter. Christ is truly risen, alleluia, alleluia.

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