The Newness That Comes From Your Spirit

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I preached this homily at the Day Mass of Holy Pascha in 2004 and thought I might share it with you today.

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!

We have in past years,
at this morning sacrifice of Pascha,
lingered over the chants of the Church,
taking each one in turn,
to hold them over in our hearts
and so sing them with understanding
-- Psallite sapienter! -- says the psalmist.

Sing so as to taste each word, sing so as to melt each syllable
in the warmth of a believing heart.
There is wild honey in the chants of the Church,
a honey made by holy bees buzzing in the garden of the Scriptures.
Sing with understanding!
The taste of each word will surprise and delight
the palate of your soul.
If it is our vocation to savour the chants of the Church at all times,
it is our surpassing joy to do so today,
for Christ is risen.

This morning, however,
I thought we might turn our hearts' attention to the Collect of the Mass,
to that ascending word of the Church:
fruit of the Word welcomed, and heard, and repeated in the night.
By means of the Collect
we, being collected together in one place,
pass over all together with Christ to the Father.

Our many prayers, prayers secret and hidden,
our groanings and our tears,
our supplications and our praises,
are collected and bound like a spring bouquet with a single band
to be lifted before the throne of grace
that we might find help in time of need (cf. Heb 4:16),
for Christ is risen!

Our hearts are set on heavenly things (cf. Col 3:2)
and fixed, already, here and now
in "the sanctuary not made by hands" (Heb 9:24) ,
in the holy place beyond the veil (cf. Heb 6:19)
"where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,
having become a High Priest forever
after the order of Melchisedech" (Heb 6:19).
Christ is risen!

"O God, on this day,
through Your only-begotten Son,
You over overcame death
and opened for us the gate of eternal life;
Grant, we pray,
that in celebrating the solemn feast of the resurrection of the Lord,
we may, by the newness that comes from Your Spirit,
rise again in the light of life."

God has done two things in the resurrection of his only-begotten Son.
He has overcome death.
"Christ is risen from the dead,"
sings the Eastern Church,
"trampling on death by death,
and on those in the tombs bestowing life."
This, Saint John Chrysostom, made clear for us at Lauds
in words unparalleled power and jubilation.
Christ is risen!

He has also opened for us the gate of eternal life.
The gate closed to Father Adam and Mother Eve
is thrown open by Christ.
The garden of God's delight is given back to us
and at the gate stands the Gardener "all radiant and ruddy,
distinguished among ten thousand.
His head is the finest gold;
His locks are wavy, black as raven.
His eyes are like doves
beside springs of water. . . .
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as the cedars.
His speech is most sweet,
and He is altogether desirable" (Ct 5:10-12, 16).
Christ is risen!

Today is the festival of the open gate,
the solemnity of the open tomb,
the epiphany of the open heart,
for Christ is risen!

What does the Church,
moved, as always, by the Spirit, ask today?
"Grant, we pray,
that in celebrating the solemn feast of the resurrection of the Lord,
we may, by the newness that comes from your Spirit,
rise again in the light of life."

The newness that comes from the Holy Spirit!
There is no place here for anything old.
"Cleanse out the old leaven, " says the Apostle,
"so that you may be a new lump" (1 Cor 5:7).
No place today for the sagging, the creaky,
the stinking, and the wilted!
No place for the decrepitude of sin!
New hearts and new minds!
And in your mouths a new song -- praise to our God,
for Christ is risen!

"If anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation;
the old has passsed away,
behold the new has come" (2 Cor 5:17),
for Christ is risen!

The second part of the petition,
" . . . that we may rise again in the light of life,"
lifts us up, projects us from our tombs,
sends us out of darkness into light,
out of death into life,
out of loneliness into communion,
out of death's dark bands into the arms of the Father!
Rise again! Not tomorrow -- today!
Rise again! Not in another place -- but here!
Rise again! Even as He rose before us and rises in us,
and will call us on his Day to rise to glory!
Christ is risen!

Let the prayer of the one Bride
become today the prayer of each.
Let the prayer of the Mother Church of us all
become today the prayer of those born anew of water and the Spirit!
Pass into the prayer of the Church,
holding nothing back,
and Christ will pass into you, holding nothing back,
for Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!


Happy Easter!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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