On a liturgical note: April 2020

By Canon Philip Gillespie

There is much darkness and much worry in the world at the moment – it will have touched our individual families and communities in various ways, and here in Italy it has been the fact that over the past weeks we have been in effective ‘lockdown’, only able to come out of the college for emergencies, for shopping and for health reasons.

We gave the option to our students as to whether they wanted to remain in college or return to their respective countries – it means that we are now a small community of 15 and we are trying to maintain a routine of prayer, study and community life as best we can. It is all very concerning and we are immensely grateful to all those who are working so hard to ensure our safety, those who care for our physical and spiritual and psychological health.

The message of the Easter Vigil – the lighting of the fire and the blessing of the Paschal Candle – reminds us that even in the darkness of doubt and disillusion, it is the presence of the Risen One speaking the words ‘Peace be with you’ which makes all the difference. It is literally life-changing.

Through the Season of Easter, the 50 days leading us to Pentecost, we are shown how in those early years the message of the Risen One spread and transformed the lives of those who came into personal contact with Christ – not least the man named Saul who, from being a persecutor of the faith, became its greatest exponent and the ‘doctor gentium’, the teacher of all the peoples. We may know him better as Paul – and it is from his letters and theology and spirituality that we receive instruction most Sundays of the Ordinary Time of the Year in the second reading at Mass.

Here at the Beda, we are literally over the road from the Basilica of Saint Paul, where he is buried. We are also within walking distance of a place called ‘Tre Fontane’ (The Three Fountains ) where, tradition has it, Paul was put to death by beheading. St Paul is for us a ready and constant presence in our lives – we hear from him on Easter Sunday as he says: ‘He [Jesus] is our life.’

May we always act and love accordingly.