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Easter Vigil Mass – 2014

Easter-Vigil 2014

Easter Vigil Homily by Abbot Peter McCarthy: 4-20-2014

“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death…

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with,

that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.

For a dead person has been absolved from sin.” Romans 6


My Brothers & Sisters,

The instructions for the timing of the Easter Vigil in the Roman Missal read: “In accord with ancient tradition this night is one of Vigil for the Lord…The entire celebration of the Paschal Vigil takes place at night… It should end before dawn on Sunday.” Perhaps it is too obvious for comment but I want to say that the dark IS the only true setting for Easter Light! I want to say that Easter emerges from out of Holy Saturday… Easter is born of a time of night & of a liturgical space in which NOTHING is apparently going on…”Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”


It was the very popular British author, poet, & mystic of the last century, Caryll Houselander, who wrote of this early Easter morning:


Christ slept in the tomb… He had trusted His Father and slept: darkness in his eyes, silence in his ears…

Once he had slept in a boat that was tossed by storm. He slept now while a storm of evil tossed the world… He had overcome the world;

its storm could not touch the serenity of his consummated love. The hours moved slowly onwards through the terror & despair of that dark night,

reaching out longingly to the moment of resurrection…the moment of the first heartbeat of the risen Christ.

In the first beat of the heart of the one who had died, the resurrection of the whole world would be contained.


My Friends, the Easter Experience is NOT something good liturgy or precise rubrical execution or even good singing can make happen. EASTER happens when love is CONSUMATED (that means when love is MATURE) and that means when LOVE IS WILLING TO WAIT IN THE DARK- WALK IN THE DARK- ONE STEP AT A TIME and hope for something it could never earn… like these two women Mary of Magdalene, and the other Mary, walking to a tomb that first Easter Morning.


“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into his death.”


It has always been the same with Jesus our LIFE & our RISEN ONE… even from the beginning… Remember the Christmas prophet…”The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light… on those who dwelt in a land of deep shadow a light has shone” The Resurrection was not some spectacular event that exploded into the world as the headline on the evening news. It had the same dynamics as the Incarnation itself; After he rose from the dead Jesus was seen by some, but not by others; understood by some, but not by others. Some got his meaning & it changed their lives, others were indifferent to him, and still others understood what happened, hardened their hearts against it, and tried to destroy its truth.


Why the difference? What makes some believe in the Resurrection while others do not? What let’s some understand the mystery and embrace it, while others are left in indifference or hatred? Again, just watching these two women on the way to the tomb this morning I am reminded of St. Bernard’s teaching: LOVE is the eye. When we look at anything through the eyes of love we see correctly, understand, and properly appropriate its mystery. The reverse is also true. When we look at anything through eyes that are jaded, cynical, jealous, or bitter, we will not see correctly, we will not understand, and will not appropriate its mystery.


Again look at the two Marys on their journey in this early morning, the love in their hearts is indeed crucified and any shred of hope is broken… YET THEY KEEP WALKING INTO THE COLD DAWN.


“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death….that we might no longer be in slavery to sin”


With the two women, shaken by the earthquake & the angel rolling back the huge stone at the mouth of the empty tomb this early Easter morning, we touch a reality that transcends our normal way of seeing – and yet a reality that has always haunted our experience of our neediness & our poverty. EASTER tells us that God is seeking us – that God longs for human intimacy even more than we do. Jesus awakening from the tomb is also our awakening. Awakening to the Easter faith that appearences are deceptive!


“…GO quickly and tell his disciples, He has been raised from the dead,

and He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him..”


Galilee, for the disciples, is a word meaning “the everyday”… the “normal life” of eeking out a living, of struggling for hope, of longing for more of a sense of meaning… Again the Easter Angel’s message “RIGHT THERE you will see Him as He told you.”


So we walk with Mary of Magdalene, and the other Mary, this early Easter morning and we ask for a freedom – that is dead to self (that we can indeed be buried with him) and… a Love open to the Divine Love & Life awaiting us.

+ Abbot Peter McCarthy

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