In a week where the fire that gutted Notre Dame Cathedral in Parish riveted the world’s attention Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP called on Australian Catholics, including those who entered the Church this Easter, to rebuild the Church.
Archbishop Fisher’s call came during the Easter Vigil Mass at midnight last Saturday and Easter Morning in St Mary’s Cathedral.
Easter is all about transformation from death to life; out of the daily sufferings and realities of human existence, Archbishop Fisher said, God brings new life.
“The blood, sweat and tears of human bodily life; the wood, iron and vinegar of human manufacture: all are brought to the fire and water of Easter for transformation,” he told a packed cathedral.
“As thousands stood by Notre Dame this week staring or crying, praying or chanting, they entrusted the future of the church to Our Lady of Sorrows. The French President declared his nation’s determination to rebuild.
“Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we hear a similar cry, the call of God to the young Francis of Assisi, to our catechumens, to all the Church of Australia in 2019: “Go and Rebuild my Church”.
Massive numbers flock to Easter ceremonies
Huge numbers attended Mass and Easter-related ceremonies at St Mary’s Cathedral throughout the three days of the Easter triduum.
An estimated 1200 people attended the traditional Stations of the Cross prayers on Friday afternoon which commemorate 14 events of Christ’s passion; even more – around 1600 – attended the Passion service when the Gospel account of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion are read out by clergy.
At least 1200 filled the cathedral for Easter Sunday morning’s solemn Mass where Archbishop Fisher distributed Easter eggs after the liturgy to delighted children in the congregation.
Despite this year being something of an annus horribilis for Catholics around the world, including in Australia, individuals across the country continued to enter the Church at Easter ceremonies.
New Catholics welcomed
Archbishop Fisher welcomed four new Catholics into the Church at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, urging them to take their place in rebuilding the Church in a society where negativity and aggression appear to be rapidly on the rise.
They were Ashley Hoyoung Kim, Lucy Catherine; Mahesh Asanka Oliver – now Isaiah Mateo – and Sadrul Amin.
We look to you, our dear catechumens … to be like Easter fires sparking purpose, passion and purification,” Archbishop Fisher told the four.
“But we also need you to be like Easter water, demonstrating creativity, compassion and clemency.”
Concerning trends in national life
He also decried concerning trends in Australian life.
“Our leaders are advised to go on the attack. Our mainstream media behave like sharks in a feeding frenzy. In the twitterverse there are no limits to what people say against each other. Self-restraint and civility are a bygone etiquette,” he said.
While some advances had taken place, other trends were concerning.
“There is continuing damage to the social fabric, and so to individual lives. A rolling series of public inquiries is discrediting our institutions, and confidence in political processes and traditional authority is at an all-time low,” the Archbishop told those attending the Vigil.
“In this milieu, the indignation industry can stir up instant public anger through the social media. “Crucify him, crucify him” is a cry as easily manufactured today as it was in Jesus’ day.”
Have faith in God
However Easter and its symbols of fire and water are all about transformation, he reminded mass attenders, where God’s unshakeable promises to his children recorded in Scripture offer eternal life through baptism.
“As God promised Noah that the Great Flood would never to be repeated, so He offers us an unshakeable covenant of peace,” he said.
“As God led the Jews through the Red Sea to freedom, so He promises salvation to the nations through the waters of rebirth.
“As God pledged to cleanse unfaithful Israel with clean water and give her a new heart, so He vows that we shall be His people and He will be our God.
“And if God did all this through the death and resurrection of His son, He enables us to enter into that decease and renaissance through Baptism.”