Saturday, March 31, 2018

THE GREAT VIGIL OF EASTER WITH POPE FRANCIS


Pope at Easter Vigil Mass: Break Silence. Overcome Fear.

During his Easter Vigil homily, Pope Francis challenges us not to stand speechless before the events of Holy Week, but to overcome our fears and to share in Jesus’ mission and message.
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett

Also known as the “night of nights”, the Easter Vigil is really the climax of the Triduum celebrations. It is on this night that we commemorate, through poignant words and powerful symbols, the death and Resurrection of Jesus. True to that symbolism, the ceremony begins outside the church, in darkness – and in silence.

Speechless before the Cross

This silence is one with which we can all identify, said Pope Francis in his homily. In the same way as Jesus’ disciples stood “speechless before the Cross”, incapable of “speaking out on behalf of their Master”, so too do we stand “speechless in the face of situations we cannot control” – believing that “nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in the flesh”.

Overpowering silence

Darkness and silence disorient and paralyze us, said the Pope. They “plunge us into a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope, and leads to thinking that ‘this is the way things have always been’”. Amid this “overpowering silence” it is the stones that “cry out” and proclaim “a new way for all”. Delivering his homily in St Peter’s Basilica ablaze with light, Pope Francis affirmed that: “Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel”.

Overcoming fear

“Do not be afraid…for He is risen”. These words, according to Pope Francis, should “affect our deepest convictions and certainties”. They should challenge us and encourage us “to trust and believe that God ‘happens’ in every situation and in every person”. “He rose from the dead…and now He waits for us”, continued the Pope, so that we can “share in His saving work”. Christ is risen: “This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity”, he added.

Challenging our conventions

For Pope Francis, the key to celebrating Easter is to recognize how God constantly gate-crashes our lives, “challenging our conventions, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us”. God is inviting you and me, concluded the Pope, “to break out of our routines and to renew our lives”. The invitation is personal and powerful: “Do we want to share in this message of Life, or do we prefer to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?”

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