Saturday, 30 April 2016

Easter comes again

At the end of the morning I took the bus into town and walked to St Mary's Bute Street in good time to celebrate Mass. For the Greek Orthodox congregation of St Nicholas church across the road from St Mary's, today is Holy Saturday, so there were more cars than usual parked in the vicinity and the church was open. As I'd arrived early, I went over to St Nicholas' and slipped into the crowded narthex of the church. The nave was already packed and the morning vigil liturgy of the Word in progress. 

I recognised the Gospel being read as I arrived, was the passage assigned from the last chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel, which at some time during college days I had examined in its original Greek text. Indeed, the passage was then repeated in English, confirming that I was correct. Even after nearly fifty years, phrases and words from a time when I took a great interest in the Orthodox church and its spirituality, still sparkle in the memory. I wish I'd had sufficient reason to master Greek properly and use it, but life had other plans for me.

After ten minutes I slipped out and went across to St Mary's. There were half a dozen of us for Mass, and at the end, since it was midday, we sang the Regina Caeli, our Eastertide nearing its conclusion as the Eastern church begins. This year the different Easter dates are about as far apart as they can get. The move to set a fixed date adopted by all Christians world wide does nothing to inspire me. It seems like a way of trying to iron out the wrinkles in history for the sake of convenience. There are different dates and different calendars in use because the church has evolved differently in different contexts each with its own story to tell. Will all the world churches agree to a decision to walk in lock-step on this matter? Or will there be a new era of dissent, with different groups following the traditional western or eastern calendar dates, seeing no point or purpose in the change?

On the way back after Mass, I had to walk to Cowbridge Road east to catch a bus, as Westgate Street was closing for an afternoon of rugby matches in the stadium. After lunch we did our usual circuit along the Taff and back, marvelling at the surge of spring growth, listening to the birds, taking photos, walking briskly, as the weather is still pretty cold. It might as well still be March when we were celebrating our Easter, almost as early as possible.

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