Maria Consolata – rejoicing with saints and angels

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The Roman Catholic writer and nun Ruth Obbard tells a story of Pope John XXIII. “On Easter Sunday, his first after being elected Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) celebrated Benediction in his Cathedral, the interior glowing with candles to light its mysterious darkness. He thought the service was over when the choir burst into a hymn… The Cardinal turned to his attendant canon to ask ‘What now?’ He was directed to the icon of Mary. The canon said ‘Let us go, your Eminence, to congratulate Our Lady on her Son’s resurrection.’”

A charming little story. A reminder that Easter joy transcends human boundaries of time, place and dimension. We ‘exult’ with one another, with the whole church, past, present and future, with Our Lady and all the saints and with angels, with all creation.

After Benediction on Easter Day at St Chrysostom’s we went to Our Lady’s statue to rejoice in imagination and prayer, with her. He whom she had borne as a baby now is risen. Alleluia!

As we sang the Maria Consalata devotion together flowers were blessed and distributed as a sign of joy. Some chose to leave their flower at Mary’s statue. One little boy who was present was asked what he was going to do with his. ‘Put it in our vase on the window so lots of people can see it.’ A lovely, simple, way of sharing Easter joy.

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Celebrate the 50 days

Alleluia! Christ is Risen.

Easter isn’t just one day – its a season of 50 days

Christians make a lot of Lent – giving up things, fasting, praying, and other worthy things – some of them good, some of them pretty heavy going. Lent is a season of 40 days to get ready for Easter, and Easter is a season of joy and celebration and its 50 days. (Easter Day to Pentecost Sunday).

Easter C at Altar

Easter candle burning on Easter day

We love the Easter Season at St Chrysostom’s. We are a welcoming church which loves to celebrate richly, and Easter season is the time to do that. Our great Easter Candle (and it is big!) is placed right at the front of the Church throughout Easter, our Easter flowers are  lovely, our liturgies resonate with Alleluias.

And more… We don’t want our Easter joy to be confined to the church building. As Easter People at St Chrysostom’s we want to live out our Easter faith. So we campaign for a Real Eastertide! We look for ways to explore the beauty and joy of this special season, and show ourselves ourselves and others that we are an Easter people.

We invite you to make this wonderful season special for yourself and others. We’ve lots of ideas as to how to celebrate Easter.

Why not take some of them up or make some of your own? Click here: 50 days ideas 2014 - for this year’s list of ideas for the 50 days.

Have you more ideas? We’d love you to contribute them here by adding a comment, or join the discussion in our Church Facebook Group.

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Easter Impressions

Easter frontalWe’ve had wonderful worship over Holy Week and Easter, and lots of people have helped make it so. Everyone who has been to church must be grateful for that.

Here are some ‘impressions’ given by different worshipers at St Chrysostom’s this ‘joyful Eastertide’

All those languages, the different singers, the colour, the faith, the fun… So special

It was a joy to see flowers back, they are so uplifting and bring joy to Church.

A special Thank You to Father Ian for a very thoughtful Good Friday sermon

Easter worship was wonderful, and bizarre, and made me appreciate how life is wonderful and bizarre!

Fr Ian singing the Exultet with joy and clear faith was – simply inspiring.

I liked being given a rose on Easter Sunday evening. I am going to put it in a vase at the window where we will see it.

The sermon of St John Chrysostom – it was fantastic!

We’re not a wealthy church financially, but wealthy in so many other ways. A special thank you to our priests for their commitment and dedication.

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Your Heart’s Song

What song gives you comfort and strength?

The Easter Candle at St Chrysostoms

The Easter Candle at St Chrysostoms

What song echoes in your mind giving joy or peace?

I asked four different people what their answer to this would be.

Four very different answers;

 Bring me Sunshine sung by Morecambe and Wise,

 Kids in America by Kim Wylde,

Sleepless Sailor by Kate Rusby and

Come home, the kettle’s on by The Feeling.

What is the song of your heart?

This Easter for the first time for many years I was delighted to sing the Exsultet, the ‘Easter Praises,’ at the Easter Vigil Mass. As we gathered together around the Easter Candle, I recalled the history and theology of this great song of praise.

The Exsultet echoes through the church of yesterday, today and the future. It is the song at the heart of God’s Church, calling forth joy, comfort and strength, and inviting angels, the world, the church to sing out.

ExsultetRejoice, heavenly powers… Rejoice, O Earth… Rejoice, O Mother Church… Jesus Christ is risen! Darkness vanishes for ever.

And for the people in the church?

Well, St Augustine inspires us with his suggestion for a song for our hearts. “We are an Easter people and  A L L E L U I A is our song” – So don’t forget to add Alleluia to the song of your heart this Easter.

HAPPY EASTER!

Fr Ian

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Fourteenth Station – Jesus Laid within the Sepulchre

Jesus Laid within the SepulchreWe adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Matthew 27: 57-60

As the sun goes down, Christ is buried in a borrowed tomb. After the pain and agony He looks at rest. He lies here now like a seed buried in the earth and we, with all creation, wait. This is the day of deep, deep silence. We wait and we watch. Yet in the darkness of the tomb and in the shadow of death God continues His work. This is a divine silence from which the Word will be spoken again and make all things new.

There are times in all our lives when we too are in a cold and dark place. Times when we need to invite Jesus into our darkness, into our fear and pain, into our lives sealed against feeling, into our many little deaths. We enter the tomb with Jesus and wait and enter into that holy silence. We wait with for all things to be made new, for our hearts and lives and all creation to be set free from our bondage to sin. We wait for the glory that beckons us and bids us live in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Almighty God, whose most dear Son lay at this hour in the sepulchre in obedience to your will; may we by your grace be so buried with him that with him we may rise to life everlasting; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Rt Revd Mark Davies, Bishop of Middleton.

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Thirteenth Station – Jesus Taken Down from the Cross

Jesus Taken Down from the CrossWe adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Matthew 27:54-55

Jesus is dead. He is lowered from the cross and his limp lifeless body is placed into the arms of his mother.

The peasant woman of Nazareth, who had held him to her breast as a baby, now receives her son’s body back to her and holds him in deep sorrow. Her motherly love once more receives him and protect him. Her embrace enshrouds her child. And there, in that loving embrace, etched in the imagination and history of humanity, is a sorrowful and profound time of new and mysterious maternal fruitfulness.

Loving Mary, our Mother, teach us to show true compassion, an active compassion, which embraces the suffering and those who have died, and which raises suppliant eyes towards heaven.

Revd Canon Ian Gomersall, Rector of St Chrysostom’s.

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Twelfth Station – Jesus by Death Redeems the World

Jesus by Death Redeems the WorldWe adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

People do not choose to be born, nor do they usually choose to die.

God did choose to be born, when Jesus came into our world. God did choose to suffer death when Jesus was crucified. That is the stupendous truth of Christianity – that God loved the world so much that he humbled and limited himself to this extent.

God exists from all eternity, yet is born in time. He is immortal, yet chooses mortality. As Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn: “’Tis mystery all; the Immortal dies!” In doing this, God’s nature is revealed; the Divine is loving, humble and self-sacrificing. When we look at Jesus, we see what God is like, and he calls us to be like him. God gave himself away by Jesus’ birth and death. When we are tempted to defend Christianity from its attackers, we should remember that God has been abused to the utmost on the cross and was not defeated. In his dying and death, Jesus is our inspiration, whatever life is throwing at us.

Father, may we know more and more the love you show us in the birth, life and death of Jesus. Reveal through us the redeemer’s love for the world. Amen.

Revd Canon Alma Servant, Rector of the Ascension, Hulme.

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