I will die with Christ that I might rise with Him - Mass for Religious 2019

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > I will die with Christ that I might rise with Him - Mass for Religious 2019

Our annual Mass for Religious is held this year on this Saturday within the Octave of Easter. The stunning icon on the cover of our booklet captures something of the drama of the Resurrection. Today we join the Church as it continues to celebrate the triumph of Christ over the grave.

Each year the Liturgy of the Sacred Triduum unites us with the events of the final days of the Lord’s earthly life. We follow the Lord from the Upper Room and the institution of the Mass and the Priesthood, to the Agony in the Garden, to his arrest and trial. Through the solemn reading of St John’s Gospel on Good Friday we are drawn into the story of the passion and death of the Lord told by the one who was there. At the Easter Vigil we are swept up in the Church’s proclamation that Christ has truly risen from the dead.

I am sure that for each of us as consecrated religious we have once again made a personal spiritual journey over the Sacred Triduum.

The Easter Vigil liturgy is, according to ancient tradition, the night for the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism. Catechumens are baptised, confirmed and receive Holy Communion and so are incorporated fully into the sacramental life of the Church. It is also the occasion when all present are invited to renew their baptismal promises and are sprinkled with Holy Water.

Easter each year focuses our attention on the meaning of our baptism. It is the pivotal sacrament and the foundation for being a Christian. It reminds us of the link between baptism and the paschal mystery. St Paul declares in his Letter to the Romans: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”  (Rom 6:5)

We are familiar with this teaching of St Paul. It is a most profound insight into the significance of becoming a Christian. For us as consecrated religious it takes on special meaning. As one who has freely chosen to embrace religious life, we can say that we have chosen to enter the paschal mystery in a particular way.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the liturgy from Vatican II, says, “Thus by baptism a person is plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him.” The words are strong – “plunged into the paschal mystery”. This is what we have chosen to do in following our calling to religious life. A religious vocation is in the end simply a form of further expression of our baptism. We desire to live the Christian mystery in a particular way.

The Christian embraces not only Easter Sunday but also Good Friday. One cannot exclude the other.

St Paul adds in Romans, “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed.” A religious consecration is a radical death to the world so that we might live wholly the new life in Christ.

The Christian life is an embrace of dying and rising. I have been speaking in my parish missions about the experience of St John as he stood at the foot of the cross. He describes in detail what he witnessed when the soldier pierced the side of Christ – there flowed out blood and water.

Blood refers to the sacrifice and water to the release of new life. In our sacrament of Baptism we use the sign of water. However, the water flowed only because the flow of blood from the heart of Christ was complete. The sacrifice of Christ once complete released the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Prophet Isaiah (43:19) declares,

See, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the wilderness, I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.

Religious consecration opens our lives to being instruments of grace for others, to be conduits of rivers of mercy and love that flow from the heart of Christ.

The Easter liturgy directs our attention to the fact that the way in which we participate in the paschal mystery is through our baptism. As consecrated religious we are intentional in entering deeply into the paschal mystery.

Today in this Mass each of us can do for our religious consecration what we did as Christians in the Easter Sunday liturgy: we can affirm our desire to live the paschal mystery to the full.

We can say with personal conviction: I will die with Christ that I might rise with Him.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Saturday, April 27, 2019