Easter Pastoral Letter 2019, from the Primus,
the Rt Revd Dom Alistair Bate OSBA, M.A.Div.
A joyful Easter to you all!
Have you ever wondered why we normally wish each other a Happy Christmas or a Merry Christmas, but more usually, at least in religious circles, a Joyful or Joyous Easter? A birth is a cause for celebration, possibly even an occasion of merriment, even more so the birth of a Saviour, and the Saviour’s birth was also of course, deliberately placed just after the Winter Solstice, a traditional time of merriment and relaxation. At Easter, in contrast, the Divine Child has been put through the profound and mysterious agony of the cross in order to prove to us that we too, if we follow in his footsteps, can rise above the trials of this life, sustained by our own relationship with the Father, as He was.
Those of us who are struggling with ill health, extreme stress or misfortune, are excused the spiritual obligation to be joyful, but let’s be honest, most of us have no excuse not to be joyful, not least because we are living the kind of life that the majority of the world’s population can only dream about. So we have an obligation to count our blessings with thankfulness and to take every opportunity to share our abundance with the less fortunate. Those of us who are able are certainly called to spread a little joy whenever and wherever we may.
The gift of joy, however, rarely comes naturally, except to innocent children and animals. We have to work at it and however far we look, we will never find it outside ourselves, regardless of the material blessings we may have received. No, true joy bubbles up from the wellspring of gratutude within. Similarly, the source of joy for Jesus was his intimate loving relationship with the Father. For the necessary replenishment of the source of his joy the Gospels tell us that Jesus frequently withdrew, on his own or with a chosen few, to the wilderness, a mountaintop or the lakeside, where in solitude he could experience that true Source of joy and peace that empowered his ministry.
The particular method of meditation or prayer isn’t vitality important, as one’s own patron saints, angels and guides assist and inspire, but generally I find that a simple mantra mediation works best for making connection with that well-spring of joy within. Examples of Christian meditation mantras are “Maranatha” (Come O Lord), “Maran” on the inhalation and “atha" on exhalation, or “Jesus” on inhalation and “Mary” on exhalation. I have used both profitably. The latter has the advantage of reminding us that Mary is a perfect reflection of the indwelling Holy Spirit, just as Jesus is a perfect reflection of the Father. The Gospel of St John (20: 22) tells us that Jesus “breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit”. As we inhale we receive that breath of the Spirit from Jesus and as we exhale, being filled with the Holy Sprit, we are assumed with Mary into the heavens. It is a circular motion that propels us onwards and upwards as surely as the fiery wheels of Ezekial’s chariot.
Fundamentally, then, my dear companions on the Way, the Resurrection Life is with us now, so let us be Rejoice, for that Spirit which vivified and empowered Jesus is equally available to us if we will but make space in our lives for a relationship with the Father, as He did.
Bright blessings of New Life to you all!
The burning of Notre Dame will signal a turning point for many, a rude awakening to the dangerous reality facing our civilisation. Politically we are at least approaching a turning point and despite the increasing violent repression, threats, censorship and silencing of patriots, the populist cause is slowly but surely gaining ground all over Europe and North America. Mainstream Christian churches, however, with a few notable exceptions, are sinking deeper into apostasy as each year passes. Let no one be in any doubt that the Holy Celtic Church International will defend to the death our patrimony as well our faith.