Thought for Easter

Gian_Lorenzo_Bernini_-_Dove_of_the_Holy_SpiritAs we approach Easter and its loaded days of ritual it is useful to pause and consider how we might approach this time.

Participating in mystery can be a challenge especially for those of us with a rational disposition. I am more comfortable with rational explanations of problems and if I can’t get it, I tend to give up in frustration.

Raniero Cantalamessa suggests that when approaching liturgy rather than trying to explain or abandon mystery in frustration, the thing is to bathe in it, submerge in it, love it and feast at its table.

“One cannot take in the ocean but one can do something better, allow oneself to be taken in by it, submerging oneself anywhere in its expanse. This is what occurs with Christ’s passion. The mind cannot wholly take it in, nor can its depths be seen but we can submerge ourselves in some moment of its reoccurrence.”[1] 

That is helpful. Participating in liturgy is like bathing in the sea – we can arrive at Holy Week, tired, brittle, hardened like a piece of dried out sea weed lying in the sun on the beach.

You won’t make it supple or velvety again by stamping on it or keeping it out of the water; rather this will be achieved by putting it back into the water and holding it there until the ocean seeps through it.

After a while the ocean caresses it into its own underwater softness, so much more natural to it than its hard, wrinkled state on the shore.

So, how do we achieve a similar softness in ourselves, allowing the heart of stone to become a heart of flesh. Liturgy, ritual is such a medium in which we can bathe and hope to achieve a similar softness, our hearts of stone turning to hearts of flesh.

But if we are to bathe in it, there had to be an ocean dense enough to support me but not too dense or frozen to prevent the  mystery unfolding. There has to be effective ritual.


[1] Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s sermon in the Vatican during Easter Week 2010.