THE P RTAL
May 2012 Father Peter’s Page
Adding to the Variety . . .
ONE OF the unusual factors of being a Chaplain in a secular University, with fixed term dates, is that Easter (unlike this year) sometimes does not occur whilst the students are around. Tis gives one the rare opportunity to experience, for the first time in 40 years, someone else’s celebration of Holy Week & Easter!
Corsica Two years ago I went to Corsica. Whilst there I
experienced the ‘U Catenacciu’ on Good Friday: Te ‘Grand Penitent’ – ‘Te Chained One’ – who has waited on a short list for 10 years to walk through Sartène in red robes carrying the Cross of Christ. But it was the celebration of Easter Day which intrigued me.
A balmy Mediterranean warm night Tis I did in the beautiful little town of Cargèse.
Here the inhabitants live on two sides of a pretty valley: one boasting an attractive baroque Catholic Church; whilst on the other side is a brightly frescoed Greek Orthodox Church. In the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday night, Te Easter Vigil was celebrated beautifully with a deep feeling of peace and serenity which perhaps can only be fully experienced in the climes of a balmy Mediterranean warm night.
An Orthodox Easter As it was one of those unusual years when both the
calendars agreed – so both the West and the East were keeping Easter at the same time – I felt moved to walk across the valley to experience an Orthodox Easter. Cargèse is the Greekiest village in Corsica and they celebrate Easter in style! Not only were the servers and priest attired exquisitely, but the singing and the shouts of “Christ has Risen” resounded around the valley.
In addition there was a unique liturgical rite: As icons
were brought out and displayed to the four cardinal points to bless the village, white robed members of the Confraternity – with great pomp and much noise - shot rifles in the air “just to make sure Christ is awake”!
A bi-ritual priest But as I listened to the priest intoning the Orthodox
chants, I felt I had heard that voice somewhere before. And when I came close to him, all was revealed: It was the same priest who had celebrated the Easter vigil! He was a bi-ritual priest in charge of both parishes:
One Latin-rite (Western) Catholic and the other, although fully Orthodox in appearance, was actually Greek (Eastern) Uniate Catholic.
21 Autonomous Churches Many forget – or perhaps have never fully appreciated
- that the Catholic Church is not just a monochrome Latin Rite Church of the West (although that is its predominant constituency) but is made up of some 21 autonomous Churches – all with different rites and traditions – but united under the Patriarch of the West, the Bishop of Rome.
Some experienced this richness for the first time
at the funeral of Pope John Paul II when they saw variously attired leaders of these communities on the front row. Many of the broadcasters mistakenly thought they were Orthodox ecumenical guests, not realising they were fellow Bishops in full communion with the See of Peter.
Tri-ritual Priests of Te Ordinariate are in a sense tri-ritual in
that they are authorised to celebrate Mass according to the current Missal; the Traditional Mass; and the Mass of Te Ordinariate – once it is promulgated. What is vital is not so much the rite they use, but that by their incorporation they are enriching the Church and exposing others to the giſts they bring.
Greatest legacies It is, I believe, the vision and prophetic acts of Pope
Benedict XV in reaching out to those estranged from the Catholic Church which will be one of his greatest legacies.
Te challenge of Te Ordinariate is perhaps simple
and profound: Do you wish to be part of the exciting work of Te Spirit in enriching the Church? Let variety abound.
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