Waterford Cathedral two-day conference on 1916 Easter Rising a ‘landmark’ occasion – Dean Jansson
The Dean of Waterford, the Very Revd Maria Jansson, has told the Gazette that a conference held last weekend (18th-19th March) at Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford, on the theme of ‘Remembering, Forgetting and Ful lling 1916’, was a “landmark” occasion with “the objective of providing a space wherein very different perspectives on 1916 could be presented and discussed”.
The conference, which had been made possible by funding from the Priorities Committee, had “achieved its goal of making a significant, reflective and public contribution to the remembrance of 1916”, the Dean added.
CROSS AND RESURRECTION
There is a tension at the heart of Christianity – the tension between the cross and the empty tomb, between our Lord’s ignominious crucifixion and his glorious resurrection. That tension is especially evident during the time that begins with Good Friday and only ends with Easter morning, when the mental image of the broken and battered body of a man being taken from a cross to lie in the tomb is replaced with the wonders of the resurrected Christ.
The first is uncomfortable and challenging; the second is joyful and fills the believer with hope. It is the latter that breaks the bonds of death and holds out to us the promise of eternal life. Yet, it is only through the sacrifice of the first that have the promise of the second. We cannot have the marvels of the resurrection without the horrors of the cross.
The need for the cross in the lives of individual Christians is reinforced continuously throughout Lent by the blessing prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer for that season: “Christ give you the grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, and to take up your cross and follow him.” These words are a deliberate echo of the words of Jesus recorded in chapter 16 of St Matthew’s Gospel: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Christians are, as is so often said, an Easter people but they are also a Good Friday people who must, each and all, take up their cross. To refuse that cross is effectively to refuse the whole story of redemption.
The message of the cross is a challenge to a generation which is endlessly told by the world that people are deserving of ever-greater material things. Yet, without it, people are presented with a version of the faith that offers them but a vague hope of eternal life in heaven without giving them the road-map needed to get there. It is not as if crosses do not abound in our modern age in the form of issues that Christians may help fight by way of embracing a life of sacrifice.
There is poverty to be fought, both at home and further afield. Ironically, homelessness is growing even as citizens are told by their governments that the global economy is improving. Peace and security seem ever harder to achieve, particularly in the face of the ever-growing threat of jihadism. The refugee crisis challenges our charity and imagination as ways are sought to cope with the increasing flow of those who flee war and terror in their homelands. The Christian population of those lands faces genocide. By contrast, the lukewarmness of the faith of so many in our society – or even the complete lack of it – provides rich opportunity for fulfilling Christ’s command to bring his Gospel to all people without even the need to stray far from home.
However, perhaps the greatest cross of all for any to try to carry in the modern age is that of simple obedience to that Gospel message. Much of what Christ taught – and what his Church has continued to teach down through the ages – is now anathema to the current generation, especially those living in the West. A gospel that preaches sacrifice and self-denial is difficult to accept at a time when the world preaches that it is possible to have whatever one wants and that what was once called sin is only an ancient lie told to manipulate and control.
This creates a challenge not only for those who try to live the faith but also for those who are called to teach it. Yet, it is a challenge that must be faced and won. To do otherwise than to preach the Christian message with its full tension between cross and resurrection is not to preach it in its fullness – the fullness that leads to salvation.
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Letters to the Editor
UK referendum on European Union membership
PROFESSOR WERNER JEANROND (Gazette report, 11th March) raises the crucial issue about the referendum on the UK and Europe, namely national sovereignty.
This issue is of enormous importance because it defines who we are as a nation; it concerns UK history going back as far as the signing of Magna Carta, the Civil War and the constitutional argument with James II.
The conflict with the Stuarts settled once and for all that there was no divine right of the monarch. The monarch was subject to the sovereignty of the people as expressed in and through Parliament.
This is now the warp and woof of the people of the UK. From the time of William and
Mary it has been accepted by the monarch, Parliament and the people.
Now we have the European Commission which, without God, claims a divine right to decide what shall be the laws and freedoms of the UK without any mandate from the people.
We were never asked to hand over this sovereignty to the unelected European Commissioners, who are unaccountable, non-elected and who govern on the principle of the ‘Divine Right of the Commission’.
Their decisions are handed over to the UK Parliament to rubber stamp and then the people have to obey. This is not government of the people for the people by the people.
In a matter of a few decades, sovereignty has been taken from the people and the nationhood of the UK has been almost destroyed.
The analogy to the pre- Stuarts is closer than we think. The European courts act and decide like the Star Chamber. The judges cannot be opposed; they are unknown by name or sight to the people of the UK. European parliamentarians act like courtiers in the presence of the monarch.
Professor Werner Jeanrond is right. Sovereignty lies at the heart of the referendum.
Sid Mourant ( The Revd) Hamiltonsbawn Armagh BT61
I AM in Kazakhstan and it is good to get the Gazette by e-paper.
The report (11th March) on Professor Werner Jeanrond’s views on the UK in the EU certainly shows him to be in favour of staying in membership. I hope some other theologians will use other Scriptures to advise the country to get out.
The Professor talks a lot about a united world but we can be in that world without staying in the EU as we have great connections all over the globe.
Jesus came to set us free. We must not be under any other control. We can have great relationships with Europe and the world without being members of this obsolete
structure which controls many laws and stops us controlling our borders.
God created us to be like him and to be creative. To be creative, we need the freedom so that we can put the Great into Great Britain again.
The Bible is not about security and insurance but is about risk and stepping out with God into the unknown.
Let us step out in risk and vote to leave the European set- up. Let us be free to be creative and make our own laws while loving all the nations in the one world.
Gordon Burrell, Kazakhstan
Easter Messages 2016 A joint message from the Archbishops of Armagh, the Most Revd Richard Clarke and the Most Revd Eamon Martin.
As we again ponder and “pray with” the events of the rst Holy Week and Easter, we once more become aware of the enormity of God’s mercy to humankind.
In the darkness of Calvary on Good Friday and in the celebration of Our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Day, we see both sides of Divine mercy. God is with us in the darkness of all human suffering and bewilderment but God also holds out the hope of a new and wonderful dimension to human existence, both in this life and beyond this life. Herein is the miracle of that great mercy held out for us.
This year is a particular ‘year of mercy’ in the Roman Catholic tradition, but for all Christian disciples – of whatever tradition – the heartbeat of the Beatitudes echoes through all true spiritual endeavour with its central message: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5: 7). As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond to the mercy of God, shown to us most vividly in the happenings of Holy Week and Easter. We do so with real humility but also with a new determination to reflect that mercy of God, however imperfectly, in the way we live our own lives. There are those around us who are fearful and lonely and who feel little hope for themselves or for their families. There are those further afield who have lost everything in this world and who are the recipients only of suspicion and even hatred. We cannot simply stand aloof, if we claim the name of Christ.
The opposite of merciful is not unmerciful but merciless, a chilling and frightening word. None of us wishes to be regarded as merciless and yet indifference to mercy is indeed merciless behaviour.
Our prayer for ourselves and for all Christian disciples is that we may all, however inadequately, show something of the immeasurable mercy of God – shown to us most vividly in the events of Holy Week and Easter – in our daily living.
May the God of all mercy bless you and all his people, +Richard, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh +Eamon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
From the Most Revd Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin
Appointments & Death