St Mary’s Catholic Church
Easter service times:
Good Friday — 3pm
Easter Sunday — 8am and 10am
■ How/when did you personally become a Christian and when did the Easter story first become real for you?
One becomes a Christian sacramentally on the day of baptism. Because of an outdated or misunderstood theology many believed that without this sacrament one couldn’t reach heaven; probably the reason that I was baptised days after birth. I started to become an adult Christian or “gospel person” a few years after ordination. Family influence and Catholic education naturally had an effect; however, it was only when one confronted evil and its humanly inexplicable power that my belief system was jolted into gospel depth. Priestly experience quickly taught that most learning fell far short of the necessity to trust in a benevolent God who calls believers to help disintegrate evil. Hence, the Easter story started to become real for me. “Jesus was raised from the dead’’. The Christ was gradually revealed to me as an invitation to ponder life itself, a calling to participate in “something eternal—the Cosmic Christ that came from God” (Richard Rohr OFM).
■ What would you say to people who are sceptical of the Easter story – those who say it sounds unbelievable?
As children the world revolves around us. If we are fortunate enough to have loving parents and mindful mentors, we gradually realise that we are but part of a community on a planet amid many galaxies. To mature we must gradually discover the kernel of our being, not confusing true self with the false self (ie. appearance, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc) as Jesus taught the single grain must die before new life takes place. Only in letting go of all that surrounds the kernel of our true self do we fall back into the love of God. Some primary school children have begun eradicating the false self, some 70-year-olds still haven’t ‘got it’. Richard Rohr teaches, “Religion is about learning how to see — salvation isn’t a matter of if, but when”. Or as Teilhard de Chardin would phrase it, “God’s Christ Project encompasses the entire evolving universe, and its aim is to bring creation back to God, fully conscious of our divine origin and divine destiny”.
■ How does your church observe Easter? Has this changed much over the years you have been involved as a minister of your church?
Not so many years ago a parish priest in our diocese rose early Easter morning, concluded all the ‘trappings’ of the Easter ceremonies alone and then proceeded with liturgy when parishioners arrived. Yes, our Easter liturgies have been embellished to include far more participation from parishioners. The celebration of Easter begins with the Lenten observance. Prayer (alone and with others), fasting and almsgiving are not only encouraged, but scheduled into parish life. The Good Friday liturgy evolves around veneration of the cross and scripture readings from both Old and New Testaments, a reminder of Jesus’ preparedness to die with integrity. Easter Saturday remembers the gift of life, then the evening liturgy recalls our historical and cosmic belief in Christ “declaring a definite trajectory where there is a coherence between the beginning and the ending of all things. It offers humanity hope and vision. History appears to have a direction and a purpose: it’s not just a series of isolated events”. (Richard Rohr, OFM) The symbols of fire, light, water, oil, bread and wine are used in the celebration of this Easter event.
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