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Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!

David sings the mystery
and the Church takes up his song!
This is the night foretold in prophecy:
"And the night shall be enlightened as the day;
and the night is my light and my delight" (Ps 138:12),
for Christ is risen!

Tonight the light of His Face is signed upon us,
for Christ is risen!
Tonight the veil is lifted from the Countenance of Love,
for Christ is risen!

Blessed the veil that covered His beauty in death!
Blessed the veil that Simon Peter saw,
"not lying with the linen cloths
but rolled up in a place by itself" (Jn 20:7),
for Christ is risen!

1. In the beginning the heavens were splayed across the void
and the fabric of creation was woven by His hands:
a veil translucent upon the face of the earth,
finely woven that through it we might glimpse His glory!
Christ is risen!

In the beginning He made man in His image, in His likeness.
From the dust Adam emerged, facing the splendour of His glory:
the creature reflecting as in a mirror
the Uncreated Beauty from which all beauty springs.

Great was Adam's grief,
terrible the laments of Eve,
when before their darkened eyes
descended the veil opaque and heavy,
the veil that they, by their sin, had pulled down hard and fast
like a window shade in time of war!
But now the long blackout of history is ended,
for Christ is risen!

"Look, my darling Eve," says ancient Adam
in a creaking voice that has forgotten how to sing,
"is that the light of God I see?"
Behold, the peace of paradise,
for Christ is risen!
Shredded are the shades of night!
Sprung from their hinges the gates of the netherworld!
Unchained the chains, unbolted the bolts!
Christ is risen!

Eve, all bent earthward, stooped with the weight of the ages,
lifts her old gray head as if to examine the fruit on a branch,
then, leaning on her walking stick older than time
-- Adam had cut it for her from The Tree --
straightens her crooked back,
and opens her mouth to say:
Christ is risen!

He enters, the Warrior returned from battle,
the King covered with victory,
the Bridegroom "all radiant and ruddy,
distinguished among ten thousand" (Ct 5:10),
for Christ is risen!

2. Behold, the Ram caught in a thicket of thorns!
Behold, the gentle Lamb bound and laid upon the wood!
Behold, the Victim for the Altar!
Behold, the Offering in Love's Undying Flame consumed!
Christ is risen!

Isaac, wide-eyed, looking on,
remembers well the day he was bound fast
and laid upon the altar
by his father's trembling and tender hand.
He remembers the flash of the blade above his head
and, out of heaven, the voice:
"Abraham! Abraham! You have not withheld your son,
your only-begotten son from me!" (cf. Gen 22: 11-12).
"Oh, Father, now I see!
It is as you said:
'God Himself will provide the Lamb, my son,'
for Christ is risen!"

3. Moses, wakened from his sleep,
shuffles out to see the sight,
brooding, grumbling as he goes.
"After forty years of leading them,
the stiff-necked, fickle, dull-witted lot,
could they not at least let a man retired take his rest!
And why that ringing of bells and tambourines?
Would not a slap of the clapper do?"
Not for a minute, my Lord Moses,
for Christ is risen!"

"Could they not have called on Joshua
to see whatever this marvel may be?
I, after all, have seen it all:
the plagues and the parting of the sea,
the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire,
the rush of the waters, the fright of the steeds,
chariots sinking in the mud and Egyptians dead upon the shore!"
(He does not yet know that -- Christ is risen!)

Then he sees Him whom once he knew,
the Friend with whom he spoke face to face (cf. Ex 33:11),
the Glory whose trail of splendour
he spied from the cleft of the rock (cf. Ex 33:22),
the Beloved Son who woke him briefly not so long ago
to converse with Him and with Elijah
of another exodus, His! (cf. Lk 28:31).
Christ is risen!

Behold Him now, more beautiful than on the heights of Thabor!
Then, "His face shone like the sun,
and his garments became white as light" (Mt 17:2),
but now, there are no words to describe him,
for Christ is risen!

4. He comes, the Lover back from combat,
with shining shards of ruby brightness
slashing through his hands and feet!
"His head is the finest gold;
his locks are wavy,
black as a raven" (Ct 5:11),
and across his forehead
a ring of cut diamonds, an incision of stars!
Christ is risen!

"Your Maker is your Husband,
the Lord of Hosts is His Name!"
Christ is risen!
"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed" (Is 54:4),
for Christ is risen!

"'I hid my Face from you' (Is 54:8), it is true,
shroud and veil covered me,
a stone, the seal upon my tomb,
but now my Face unveiled would be your feast,
your tabernacle, your paradise.
Christ is risen!

There is but a lattice of hope between us,
or the membrane of a living faith stretched taut
and wholly penetrable to love.
Christ is risen!

"His eyes are like doves
beside springs of water,
bathed in milk, fitly set.
His cheeks are like beds of spices,
yielding fragrance.
His lips are lilies,
distilling liquid myrrh" (Ct 5:12-13),
for Christ is risen!

5. If you are parched, come to the waters!
If you have no money, come all the same!
Tonight is the festival of the destitute,
the homecoming of the wanderer,
the hospitality of the heavens thrown open to the earth!
For Christ is risen!

Tonight there is water in abundance,
for feet and hands and face and head!
A cascade of jewels for the Bride of Christ,
Splashing wetness on the pavement,
bringing a thrill to every thirsting heart,
for Christ is risen!

Tonight, for our lips, there is something sweeter than honey!
Tonight there is a Chalice brimming with the fruit of the vine!
Tonight there is Bread from heaven to strengthen every heart,
supersubstantial, and having within it all delight,
for Christ is risen!

"Ah," I hear you say, "my fasting was not all it could have been,
and, often, from abstinence I abstained!
My penitence was paltry,
and my prayer-time bound to the miserly measure of the clock!
In giving alms I was stiff-necked and stingy,
and when I tried to bend my mind to the Scriptures
it was my feeble head that bent in sleep!
This feast, I fear, is not for me!"
Nonsense! For Christ is risen!

Tonight all is given away:
pardon for sinners,
healing for the sick,
laughter for weepers,
a song for the sullen,
and for those who have nothing -- everything!
Christ is risen!

Tonight no one gets what he deserves!
Each one gets what he has not earned:
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9),
for Christ is risen!

6. Tonight the stars shine in their watches and are glad (Bar 3:34),
sparks of fire hurled into the murky vastness,
an incandescent train for the King of Glory!
Christ is risen!

Faithful, each remains at her post,
until having spent all her blaze for love,
she falls into the secret place prepared for her,
for Christ is risen!

Tonight, for the foolish there is wisdom!
Tonight, for the weak there is strength!
Tonight, for the simple there is understanding!
Christ is risen!

Tonight, for the uncertain there is discernment!
Tonight, for the anxious there is length of days and life!
Tonight, for the blind there is light!
Tonight, for the battle-scarred and weary there is peace,
for Christ is risen!

7. Tonight, there is a bath to wash away every defilement!
Tonight, there is a cleansing from every uncleanness!
Tonight, every idol comes crashing down!
Tonight, there is a mystical infusion of purity in our inmost parts,
for Christ is risen!

This is the night of the new heart.
This is the night of the new spirit.
This is the night of hearts of stone
exchanged for hearts of flesh (cf. Ez 36:26),
for Christ is risen!

Tonight the panting deer arrives at flowing streams!
Tonight she who puts no limits on her desire
is held fast in the embrace of a Love without limits!
Christ is risen!

Tonight he who has followed his heart's whispering,
-- "Seek His Face" --
feasts, like Simon, on the Face of His Lord,
for Christ is risen!

8. After Moses, after David and the Prophets,
the Apostle draws a breath and speaks:
"Consider yourselves," he said, "dead to sin" (Rom 6:11).
"Dead?" you say, fearful and astonished.
"Dead," he says. "No other way.
-- And alive to God in Christ Jesus" (cf. Rom 6:11).
Christ is risen!

Die then, tonight, die dead to all that is old,
die dead to all that is decayed,
die dead to all that will not rise to join the dance,
for Christ is risen!

9. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
ran before us to the tomb!
The earth shook and shifted, jumped and heaved!
"What cosmic dance is this?" they asked,
as over rocks and rills they sped,
while beneath their feet the road to His tomb
cracked like the shells of Easter eggs!
Christ is risen!

And then they saw it all:
the gracious Angel seated on the stone,
dazzling brightness,
blinding whiteness,
guards, first shaking like leaves in the breeze,
and then stiff as dead men for fear!

"Do not be afraid;
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here, for he has risen as he said.
Come see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:6).
Christ is risen!

To them it was announced, yes,
but the Mother . . . the Mother already knew!
She, the first in this night as in the night of Bethlehem,
to behold the Human Face of God!
Christ is risen!

Christ is risen that we, going to the altar in this most holy night,
might see His Face shining beneath the sacramental veils!
Christ is risen that we, like so many mirrors lifted high to catch the light,
might dispel the darkness within and without!
Christ is risen that hope may triumph in every heart, in every place!

Christ is risen to go before us:
our Brother to the Father,
our Priest to the Altar.
our Saviour to the world!

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen!

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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March 2013: Monthly Archives