Easter people

Andy Hawes is Warden of
Edenham Regional Retreat House

St Augustine’s saying ‘we are an Easter People and our song is Alleluia!’ is often quoted and has achieved the status of a motto on prayer cards and the like. But what does it mean for us in our daily life? How do we live in the victory of Christ knowing as St Paul taught ‘you have died and your life is now hid with Christ in God?’ This is the essence of the spiritual life. Living in Christ who is Lord of the living and the dead and setting our minds ‘on the things that are above’. Let me suggest three ways to live in the light of the Resurrection and in the love of Christ.

The first is to contemplate the fact of the Resurrection. Read the Gospel accounts of the resurrection appearance of Jesus. All of these include conversation with the Risen Lord – hear him speak to you. Pay attention to the transforming effect on the Apostles and share with them in their wonder; hear Jesus plead with you, as he did with Thomas, ‘do not be doubting but believe’. Imagine Jesus coming in to console and strengthen you in your confusion and fears as he did to the disciples locked in the upper room. Simply ask the Lord to renew and strengthen your faith in his risen life. Ask for grace to see and know where he is at work in your life now.

The second is to be more careful to attend and more attending in your partaking of the Eucharist and Holy Communion. This was the place of revelation in Emmaus and on the beach in the light of dawn. It is the sure place to know and share the presence of Christ. Prepare diligently to meet him there and be truly thankful for your sharing in his life. The worship of the Church in the Easter season is a glorious experience; be as careful in your attendance for the fifty days of Resurrection as you were in the forty days of Lent.

The third suggestion is use one St Ignatius’s spiritual exercises which he called ‘contemplation to attain the love of God’. This begins by asking for grace to know the fullness of God’s love. He continues by using all the senses to lift the mind and heart in thanksgiving for the love of God poured out on the whole of creation and of our experience of it in the here and now. The next step is to contemplate the outpouring of love and grace through the Christ which outweighs all the physical gifts and joys we are given through our senses. (The opening Chapters of the Letter to the Ephesians can be helpful here.) In this way our whole life and being finds its proper place in creation and we are invited to share in the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God’ for we truly are ‘an Easter People and our song is Alleluia!’