Christ Is Risen!!

I have just returned from the celebration of the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night here in the Parish of Forster Tuncurry, and in honour of the Resurrection I present this recording of the Easter Proclamation (the Exsultet) as sung at Easter 2011 during the Easter Vigil of St John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Χριστός Ανέστη!

Reading the Rule of St Benedict: Chapter 63, vv 10-19

As set down for reading on the 19th April, 19th August, and 19th December

Juniors, therefore, should honour their seniors, and seniors love their juniors. Nobody is allows to use simple name alone in addressing another, but seniors should call juniors “Brother” and juniors call their seniors “Nonnus,” which means “Paternal Reverence.” But the abbot, who is believed to act in Christ’s place, should be called “Lord” and “Abbot,” not by his own claim, but for the honour and love of Christ. He should meditate on this and show himself to be worthy of such an honour.

Whenever brothers meet each other, the junior should ask the senior’s blessing. When a senior passes by, the junior should rise and give him his place to sit. And the junior should not presume to sit down unless the senior tells him to, so it may be as it is written: “outdoing each other in demonstrating honour.” [Rom 12:10] Young boys and youths should keep their ranks in the oratory and at table with discipline. Outside and anywhere else they should be under both supervision and discipline until they attain the age of reason.


This paragraph is clearly about the place of respect, experience, and wisdom in life. Obviously, the chapter on rank is not meant to grind the community down to its least common denominator. It is not meant to diminish in us the natural respect that differences should bring. Quite the opposite, in fact. This chapter is meant to freshen our eyes so that we can seel all the gifts of the human community clearly: the gifts of old peasant farmers and the gifts of young artists, the gifts of young thinkers and the gifts of old keepers of the monastery door. Age, the Rule teaches, do not give us the right to dismiss the values of the young as if they were useless. Social class does not give us the right to overlook the insights of the poor. Education does not give us the right to snub the needs of the simple. We are to call one another by titles of love and respect. We are to care for the needs of the elderly, no matter our own needs or rank or station. We are to teach what we know so that the next generation grows in good air.

In Benedictine spirituality reverence for the other based on the spark of the divine that is in us all is a gift to be given to a century alive with distinctions it will not admit and an insight in the sacred, scarred and bleeding, that it does not see.

(This reflection drawn from Joan Chittister, The Rule of St Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2010), p 268-269. ISBN: 978-0-8245-2594-1).

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 2014

Scriptures: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42.

The earthly and public ministry of Jesus is concluded with his condemnation and death on the Cross. Yet even there, before that sublime moment when Jesus yields up his spirit, we are reminded – again! – of what brought him to that place. The last act of Jesus, like all others before it, shows his immeasurable love. Even at the end, Jesus seeks forgiveness for those who have conspired against him, he offers comfort to the penitent thief, and he seeks solace and companionship for his mother. He has done everything the Father has asked, and now all is accomplished.

In contemplating the barbaric and tortuous execution of Jesus, the only way we can make sense of that act is through coming to appreciate the love that Jesus had for us that impelled him to take on human form, to walk the highways and byways of Galilee and Judea, to be betrayed, to be condemned and to die there, upon the cross. And when we recall the events of that first Good Friday, when we recall the love that God has made manifest in Jesus Crucified, we recall also all that Jesus taught during his public ministry, all the commands and lessons he entrusted to his disciples, all the ways we are called to live in response to the love that Jesus has for us.

And we remember.

The Crucifixion that we commemorate and celebrate today is a necessary part of the story of salvation. Without his Passion and Death, there could be no Resurrection for Jesus. And without the Resurrection, there would be no Faith, there would be no Church, there would be no disciples. Very shortly we will welcome the Cross into this place, and we will have the opportunity to come forward and venerate this instrument of death that has been transformed into the very symbol of our faith because Jesus has loved us enough to embrace his betrayal, his condemnation, and his death.

And we remember.

Reading the Rule of St Benedict: Chapter 63, vv 1-9

As set down for reading on the 18th April, 18th August, and 18th December

Brothers should keep their rank in the monastery according to date of entry into monastic life or the merit of their conduct and as the abbot decides. The abbot should not disturb the flock entrusted to him, nor arrange anything unjustly, using his power as if it were arbitrary, but let him be ever mindful that he will have to render an account to God for all his judgements and actions. Therefore, the brothers should approach for the kiss of peace, for Communion, to lead psalms, and to stand in the choir according to the rank the abbot decrees or that they themselves have. On no occasion whatsoever should age decide or predetermine rank, because Samuel and Daniel judged their elders as boys.

With the exception of those, as we said, the abbot has promoted for compelling reasons or demoted for particular causes, all the rest should be ranked according to when they entered monastic life, in such a way, for example, that one who came to the monastery at the second hour knows that he is junior to him who came at the first hour of that day, whatever his age or worldly honour, discipline being maintained among boys in all matters by all brothers.


The purpose of assigning rank in a monastic community was not about suppressing or humiliating the individual. It was, rather, about providing a means to free the members of the community from the pressures and confines of their lives outside the monastery. Once they entered monastic life they were no longer bound by a society that put an almost obscene significance to status and social rank – within the community, where you ‘stood’ was determined solely on the basis of your entry into the community.

The purpose of rank was to achieve equality, humility, and a new definition of self… The date of entrance was the date before and after which all other events in life were marked and noted. The image of a world unskewed by material values and social definitions is the vision thrust before us in Benedictine spirituality… it is a picture of human liberation gone outrageously giddy with the freeing power of God as the sign of its sanctity. (pp 266-267)

Joan Chittister, The Rule of St Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2010). ISBN: 978-0-8245-2594-1.

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 2014

Scriptures: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

As we begin our celebration of the Sacred Paschal Triduum we commemorate the gift of the Eucharist that has been to the Church by Jesus, and, we commemorate the example that Jesus has placed before as to how we are to live. The gift of the Eucharist, which has been faithfully celebrated down across two thousand years cannot be separated from the washing of the feet. They are inseparable aspects of the Christian life. We are called to celebrate Eucharist, to be nourished in Word and Sacrament, in order that we might have the grace and strength to go out and wash each other’s feet.

I’m not suggesting that we go out and set up a feet washing clinic on the roadside – but we all know exactly what we are called to do, right?

And the example that we have been given is clear: if Jesus, the Lord and Master, is prepared to remove his clothes, get down on his knees, and wash his disciples’ feet, then we are called to do exactly the same. We are set an example of service, to our brothers and sisters who are also part of the Body of Christ…and to those who are not yet or no longer members of the Body, in order that they might have the opportunity to experience the love of God made manifest in Jesus.

And in order that we might have the grace and strength to live this example, Jesus, after he had finished washing the feet of his disciples, took bread and wine, blessed and gave it to his friends as a promise and sign that he would be with them always. And all because he loved his disciples. We heard it at the beginning of tonight’s Gospel: “He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was”.

That’s what we celebrate over the Three Holy Days: God’s love for us. A love that is made manifest each time we gather to do as he commands us. A love revealed each time we reach out to others and wash their feet, even metaphorically. A love that took Jesus to the Cross, to the Tomb, and to the Resurrection…all because God loves us.

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