Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016

Father Stéphane Pouliot
March 27, 2016

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

What a joy to be able to invite you to respond: “He is risen indeed” each time I say: “Christ is risen!

This morning/evening, we celebrate the astounding truth of the resurrection of Christ, a truth which we cannot, should not, and must not be silent about because it transforms lives. Sharing this truth knows no boundaries, and it begins with the people who happen to be within a few feet of you. I always feel this boldness rise within me on Easter Sunday, and I ask you to forgive me in advance if I sound too intense for you. I cannot contain my joy! I know I should be used to it by now. I have known all my life that Christ was risen, so should it not get somehow stale to repeat it year after year?

Maybe the world thinks so, but 2000 years later, Christians in Syria can forgive their enemies who have slaughtered their family because Christ is risen! Christians are risking their lives to build bridges of love with people full of hatred, because Christ is risen! Christians are willing to lay down their lives and bank that God will look after their families, because Christ is risen!

Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times within hours of assuring the same Jesus of his absolute loyalty, of his willingness to die for him.
Peter feared death, and when the risk of dying for Jesus came knocking at the door, he backed off from his commitment. But here’s the thing: 50 days after the resurrection, before thousands of people, Peter will stand firm, his joy stronger than his fear of being arrested and put to death. Peter will give a witness unparalleled in history on that Sunday.

After hearing Peter testify before them that this Jesus who was put to death by “hanging him on a tree”, God the Father “raised him on the third day”, and even better “allowed him to appear, not to all the people, but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41), 3000 people were baptized! 3000 hearts were pierced that day, because Christ is risen brothers and sisters! He is risen indeed!

What happened to Peter can happen to each one of us. What happened to Peter can happen to you who wrestle this morning/evening with doubts about the resurrection. Today, we are not celebrating a fictional resurrection. If Christ is truly risen, and He is indeed, then celebrating the resurrection this morning/evening allows us to touch and taste, to see and hear his impact in the hearts of our neighbours sitting beside us, in front of us or behind us in a pew.
We often sit in Church unaware of the impact we have on those sitting around us on any given Sunday. Whether we acknowledge it or not, if someone had come to this church this morning/evening wondering if all this talk about Jesus rising from the dead was more than just talk, would they not expect us to be especially excited on Easter Sunday? On the day we are directly celebrating the heart of why we are Christians? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

“You have died” saint Paul tells us this morning/evening, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We have died to sin when Jesus died on the Cross. We have died to fear when He rose from the dead. And so, let us demonstrate what we believe like Mary Magdalene did when she went to the Apostles to proclaim to them: “I have seen the Lord (cf. John 20:18)!” Let us show those near us that like Peter, we are no longer willing to hide what we believe to be true for Christ is risen! “Let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalm 118:24), and like saint Paul, may we not keep our faith in Jesus hidden in the tomb, but since we are safely hidden from any permanent, eternal harm in the security of the resurrection of our Saviour (cf. Colossians 3:3), let us invite others to rejoice and be glad for Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!

The two disciples going to Emmaus, having met Jesus on the road, could not wait to return to Jerusalem to witness to the eleven surviving Apostles that Christ had risen (Luke 24:33-35)!
Neither should we wait for anything and anyone, before resolutely setting out to let the whole world know that we are not without hope, for Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!

I now invite each one of you to turn to someone near you in your pew or in a neighbouring pew. Go ahead and pick someone, anyone, and one of you says: “Christ is risen”, while the other one responds: “He is risen indeed”.

You are ambassadors of Christ’s mercy, since your mission is to restore hope in the heart of the hopeless! Saint Paul once proclaimed to the new Christians of Greece almost two thousand years ago: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! … So, we are ambassadors for Christ… We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, (God) made (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

If death, sin and fear no longer have the last word, Jesus Christ does, because by his Cross and resurrection, He is our life, our peace, and our strength! Brothers and sisters, one last time as the house of God our Risen Lord has made (Psalm 118, 22), let us proclaim it: Christ is risen: He is risen indeed!

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.