Message for Good Friday and Easter 2011

1754410170_BishopWilliams02.jpg Good Friday and Easter Message of the Right Reverend Thomas Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool.

I have fond memories of visiting the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. Fond, because the memories are lasting, and added to my understanding of Easter and the Resurrection. The Catacombs are damp and enclosed. They are burial chambers underground, not places for those who are claustrophobic or fearful of death, but they are also full of Christian hope.

The early Christians struggled to find images which expressed their strong faith in the Resurrection, so they returned to what they knew, and what they knew was the Old Testament images. Therefore the Catacombs are covered in images from there, the three men in the fiery furnace is depicted some sixty times, as is the image of Jonah coming out of the big fish’s mouth. Other images are the Good Shepherd, carrying the lost sheep but, for me, the most appealing one is the upside down Anchor linking the Heavens to Earth and vice versa.

Modern cultures have found other ways to depict their Christian Faith and I hope that our families, and parents in particular, make full use of them to teach a largely unbelieving generation. I love the Polish traditions, which are many, and informative, not just the decorating of the eggs (real ones) but the Blessing of the Easter Food on Holy Saturday, and the many colourful and long held traditions. The Syro-Malabar communities also express their Faith in many colourful ways.

Our English tradition may be limited to the chocolate egg and hot-cross bun, but they too can inform and educate if properly used.

Enjoy your celebrations this Easter, may they be full of new life and hope. May they point the way to the future. Our Christian liturgies are full of new images of the love of God, and of our redemption. Let us make full and proper use of them.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly is continuing his planned convalescence following successful hip replacement surgery.