Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Paschal Mystery – Sunday


Rejoice, heavenly choirs of angels.
Rejoice, all creation around God’s throne.

Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation.

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
Radiant in the brightness of your King.

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever.

This is our Passover feast when Christ,
the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates
the homes of all believers.

This is the night when you, Lord our God,
first saved our ancestors in the faith;
you delivered the people of Israel
from their salvery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when Christ broke
the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.
This is the night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth,
and all creation is reconciled with God.

Therefore, Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our sacrifice of praise and
Let us sing with joy,
joining the mighty chorus
of all God’s people!

The “Exultet” is an ancient hymn of the Roman Catholic Church, an Easter proclamation which recounts the saving acts of God in the Old and New Testaments. Historically, the Exultet was sung only once each year at the beginning of the Paschal (Easter) Vigil Service. That service began on Saturday night in darkness and ended on Easter Sunday morning in the light. 

Taken from the following website:

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The Paschal Mystery – Saturday

It’s hard today to pretend like tomorrow isn’t Easter. How many people have I seen post on Facebook or say in conversation ‘But Sunday’s coming!’ And it is.

But we do well to put ourselves back into that first Saturday before Easter. A Sabbath day for Jesus’ disciples. A day of rest and worship. For them, it was a day to recover from the shock of what had just transpired. A day that should have been filled with warm memories of a special Passover was instead a post-traumatic nightmare of regret, guilt, and fear.

I don’t know about any of my readers… but I have certainly found myself there. Full of hopes that were crushed. Faith tested, torn, even overturned.Thinking back over a friendship that was destroyed and knowing how it happened. And knowing it cannot be repaired. Seeing my own sins that I would give anything to undo. But can’t.

Today is a tiny Lent. A day to wait. To wrestle with what is and attempt to cope with it To know, really, how faithlessness and loss of faith feel.

There can be no Sunday without Saturday and Friday. No resurrection without both the cross and the day that follows.

Today give to God those things that we can so easily understand from the disciples’ experience on that Saturday. We cannot avoid them or evade them. We can when Sunday comes live with them.



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The Paschal Mystery – Friday

Today is the day we mark the death of Jesus. Always a somber day – a day for reflection, for confession and truth.

At the risk of missing the point of this day… I have always wondered about the details of Jesus’ death. The little things that happen and yet merit the attention and mention of the gospel writers.

EliEli, lema sabachthani?”     The gospel writers make a point to quote Jesus in Aramaic. One of the few times in the narratives of Jesus’ life they do so. Some in the crowds think he is calling for Elijah, which seems the reason these words are quoted as they are.They wait to see if Elijah will come to save him.

Where, oh where, am I confused about what Jesus is saying and doing? Jesus is speaking… and I hear. But I don’t understand. And I don’t know that I don’t understand. He is speaking another language than the one I know. I need to learn to hear as Jesus speaks. Like any language, it takes time and attention to understand the nuances not only of inflection and order but of tone and cadence. The one on the cross still speaks if I will learn to understand what he is saying. I am not sure how often I really do.

“51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 27:51-53)

I have tended to hear the first part of this passage and its potent symbolism of the curtain between God and humanity torn. The barrier removed. The holy let out into the world. You’ve probably heard such things said and more.

This second part is more perplexing. The dead – the holy dead- came out of their tombs and after Jesus’ resurrection appeared to people. Wait. After his resurrection? In the story, Jesus is not yet buried. He has just died.  And the earth responds in violence and shock.

Like the not understanding what Jesus is saying, how often do I not understand or perceive what God is doing? All of us filter our experiences. Otherwise we’d be overwhelmed and overloaded. Am I filtering out the strange things God is doing because they don’t fit what I expect? Is the power and wonder of the cross lost because I see only what I can understand – which is precious little?

This day perhaps more than any other is a great mystery. I know the theology and the multiplicity of ways we understand what Jesus is doing on the cross and what God is doing in and through him. But the truth is we don’t quite know. It isn’t something our minds can really grasp.

Let the earth quake and the curtain tear. Let the dead come forth and speak. It defies logic or even human experience.

It simply is. And it is enough.



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The Paschal Mystery – Thursday

Today, Maundy or Holy Thursday, plunges us into the climax of redemption history. Roman Catholics speak of the Paschal Mystery that encompasses God’s great drama enacted in these days and finishing at Jesus’ Ascension. Walk with me these next few days and ponder with me the steps of Jesus and our own tentative steps as we follow behind.


Tonight we remember. Like the Jews of then and now, we remember God’s mighty acts. For us, it is not the deliverance of a people and the birth of a nation but rather God’s mighty acts in a person. No way through the waters. No armies destroyed. But a man, alone and tired. In agony of spirit before the physical trial begins. Alone long before he cries out to God from the cross his abandonment. Against the backdrop of the Passover, the curtain opens for the final act of the cosmic yet personal drama of his life and approaching death.

What strikes me every year is how alone, utterly, Jesus is. You see it in the Upper Room as Jesus begins to move toward his destiny. He moves not just physically toward the cross but away from his friends and followers. He turns his back on them. Not to abandon them – far from it. But because they cannot go where he is going. They are unable to fathom what he is doing – let alone the Father’s will. Only the God-man can go where Jesus’ feet are about travel. He leaves the room with his followers knowing they will drop away much sooner than their denials.

In the garden, Christ becomes the savior who knows the agony of human existence. Many of us cannot grasp the horror of the crucifixion and the torture that precedes it. All of us know the agony of spirit that this man feels alone while his disciples sleep. All of us know what it is to see what’s coming and to pray – desperately, fervently, hopelessly – that it would not come. But it will.

And to know the solitude not of prayer, but of abandonment. Not the soul refreshing moment apart from the world but to stand in the crowded ways of life and feel nevertheless as if the world is empty. More to the point, to be on the outside of every group, relationship, community. We’ve felt it and will feel it again.

Jesus prays knowing the answer is “no.” Knowing that God will not, can not, do anything about what is to come.

Some time with that Jesus today is a thing we all need even with its pain and grief. Friday will come soon enough and not before Thursday’s beginning.


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Lent and the Long Road

Lent is a long road – forty days. An echo of Jesus’ forty days of temptation and the forty years Israel spent on their journey from Egypt.

When my dad died in 2011, I can remember thinking – often – “When will this end?” The grief. It never did. Not really. To think of my dad mostly provokes love and gratitude. But there is still a sting, a pain. It still hurts. It took a long time to get to where I am in my life-long grief. All of us will experience some grief – some much. I wanted the pain of grief to be over right away. It took time… a journey… to get to life beyond.

Lent is forty days long because there are no shortcuts from where we are to where God wants us to be. This is true physically – we cannot go from being 10 to being 60, from being a child to being mature, overnight. We cannot lose fifty pounds in a week. Or get in shape over the weekend.It is also true spiritually. Not even Jesus took shortcuts. He spent 30 years or so preparing for his mission. It took three years to move from its beginning to its end and his eventual triumph over sin and death.

So much more spiritually. Not even Jesus took shortcuts. He spent thirty years or so preparing for his mission. It took three years to move from its beginning to its end and his eventual triumph over sin and death. There was no road except the long one. There was no path except the one that took his entire life to walk.

Should I expect any less of my life? I crave shortcuts, templates, silver bullets and quick wins. They don’t exist. At least not with anything that matters. We all crave winning the lottery – not just the ones that pay money. But the moment of instant change in circumstances. They happen now and again. But they are not the norm that God intends.

For me the great challenge is not to live in the future – not to have my attention on the empty tomb while I stumble along the road toward Jerusalem, toward the trials and the suffering and the cross that are there. Two weeks remain until Easter and there is much between the now and then. A garden. Trial. Betrayal. Torture. Suffering. Disillusionment. A cross. Death. Grief.

If we will make the journey such things stand before us, too. We may not welcome them. But we must face and experience them before we get to the empty tomb.



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