Sunday, March 23, 2008

Christ Has Conquered Sin, Satan, Death, and Hell

Christus resurrexit! Surrexit vere!

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе!
(Christos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!)

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
(Christós Anésti! Alithós Anésti!)

Alleluja, alleluja, alleluja.

Christ is Victor, Christ is Ruler, Christ is Lord of all: He has conquered, He has triumphed, He has harrowed hell, and snatched the human race from the tyranny of the devil. May He conquer us, may He triumph in us, may He harrow our souls, break the bars and chains, cast out every sin and snare, release us from bondage to Satan, and have us share in His Paschal conquest evermore. To Christ be glory forever, with the Father and Holy Ghost, one God in perfect Trinity: Amen.

To all in the blogosphere, a very happy Easter to you all!

It's after half-past three in the morning, and I've just given my friends a lift home after some beer and chocolate (Guinness, on top of a Corona, and a Lindt chocolate bunny each) at my place, after the Vigil. Please pray for Robert, as he screws up his courage to ask to be received into the Church; and for Tim, another new acquaintance and friend of a friend, who came to Mass for the first time tonight, and is very interested by the Faith, and I trust "not far from the kingdom of God": I offered up my Paschal Communion for them, since I felt for them as they were unable to receive Our Lord this most blessed night.

The Vigil of the Twelve Prophecies took just over an hour; four of us in rotation - Fr Terence, Justin, Aaron, and I - read the said prophecies in English (I had the choice passages from Genesis v-viii about Noe, from Baruch iii, and from Jonas iii regarding Nineveh), Justin and I sang the three canticles/tracts, and Fr Rowe chanted the collects, in Latin of course. The collects are really quite grand, and so long and involved as to seem more Gallican than Roman; the whole service I found a great exercise in the hallowed art of lectio divina, and the faithful who attended in preparation for the true Vigil to come would have been a good crowd at any weekday Mass, about thirty or so.

Then, off to St Brigid's to set up... The ceremonies began a little late, at 9.48pm, and the long Vigil lasted two hours; then came the glorious High Mass of the Resurrection, so we took three hours in total. Quartessence sang the chant, and much polyphony too; Justin and I assisted in soutane and surplice from the start till the end of the Vigil, for we sang two of the prophecies each - a difficult task, in Latin, especially since we had only learned the right cantillation this evening. I somehow got through it: pronouncing the text doesn't worry me, but I kept mucking up the drop of a fifth at the full stops through nervousness. It was a great relief, giving how hot and muggy it was, to change back into lay attire and go to the pews for the Mass itself.

It was windy outside, and lighting the Paschal Candle and keeping it lit proved difficult - O for the Serpent, that wondrous old threefold candle that nasty Bugnini et al. got rid of! Surprise, surprise, far from being an impediment it would have really been a great help in getting the light of Christ successfully transferred from the bonfire to the Candle in church. The Exultet and Prophecies came next and worked well, but why was it felt needful in the reforms of the 1950's to split the Litanies of the Saints in half, move the Sicut cervus, add to the already long blessing of the Font by tacking on an aspersion of the faithful and renewal of baptismal promises, and only then conclude the Litanies? It was rather cluncky and vexing, especially with the changes of vestments needed, and I wryly remarked to Justin that if Cranmer had done such a bad job as Bugnini certainly did with his liturgical tinkerings, then the BCP would never have lasted as long as it did!

(We felt a bit like the two grumpy old men from the Muppets, criticizing the service, but as Traddies I suppose that's par for the course - no disrespect to the reverend clergy! - for it was difficult to do the ceremonies in an unfamiliar church.)

Finally on a humorous note, tonight we saw the resurrection of the subdeacon! Recall that on Palm Sunday we lost him after the Passion... well, tonight the subdeacon arrived during the Prophecies... (On both occasions, the duty to assist at another Mass had meant that both had to skip part of the liturgy.)

Tonight's Epistle is a favourite text of mine (Colossians iii, 1-4):

Brethren: If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, Who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory.

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