Saturday, 19 April 2014



Occasionally I’ve visited Peter in the beautiful W. Indian island of Grenada. The most peaceful time was when I sat on Grand Anse beach and watched the sun set. Gradually the colours changed from glorious flaming reds and oranges into soft, gentle, peaceful mauves and purples. I realised what the psalmist meant when he said that the heavens proclaim the glory of God. They give us a glimpse of his majesty and creative genius. I certainly have met God in the wonder of his creation! And there’s a great peace in simply being still in watching the sun slowly sinking beneath the horizon, after the heat of the day, with all its bustle, its joys and sorrows, hopes and fears.

Perhaps surprisingly, the setting sun makes me think of death and my life drawing to a close. My thoughts are not morbid, nor are they filled with fear, at the thought of my earthly life coming to an end and my meeting Christ. Twilight is much longer in England than in tropical lands. None of us know how long the sunset and twilight of our earthly lives will last. But sooner or later it will come.

We should not be afraid of the darkness when the sun sets on our lives. When we meet Christ at the moment of death He will not be a stranger, nor will he be a hostile judge, determined to condemn and punish us. Throughout our lives He has been with us, guiding and supporting us, even, though at times we may have felt He has abandoned us. And, imperfectly, we have tried to respond to His love. When we have failed we have experienced the wonder of his love and mercy. We are confident, not in ourselves, but in Christ’s unshakeable love and mercy. That should be the foundation of our hope and peace as we face death.

In England we have a saying, ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.’ The bright sunset holds out the promise of a brilliant new day. As we approach the sunset of our lives we should be filled with hope that after the dark sleep of death Christ will come in glory to awaken us to the glorious sunrise of a bright new day. On that day He will raise us to the fullness of life to share in the bright glory of His resurrection.

With this in mind, we should not panic as the sun sets on our lives here on earth. We can look forward to the dawning of a new day, when Christ will come to rouse us to greet the sun rising on the most glorious of days. Then we will be more awake, more alive, than ever before. That day will be filled with nothing but happiness, as we bask in the love of the Lord, together with all our loved ones.

Sunset and sunrise do, indeed, remind me that we will meet Christ in a very special way as the sun goes down in death and then rises to the glorious brightness of the resurrection. If we welcome Him during the day time of our present lives, we can be confident that we will greet each other with joy when we meet again in the sunset of death and the sunrise of the resurrection.

Isidore O.P.

Friday, 4 April 2014


I count the number of ‘ifs’ in the following words of St Paul and weigh their significance.
“If the dead are not raised, neither is Christ, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are of all people the most pitiable.” (1 Cor. 15:16)
God alone knows how many funerals I have attended, how many times I have stood beside a grave surrounded by mourners. So many words of consolation, words of Christian hope, prayers and hymns based on the faith that the resurrection is a fact. This faith is grounded in the belief that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.
My priesthood, indeed, my Christianity, is justified by the conviction that my hope in Christ is not for this life only. I believe in Christ, attempt to follow Him, and bear witness to Him, not only because of His inspiring life and teaching. My Christ is the one who was crucified and rose from the dead on the third day. His empty tomb is not the symbol of the emptiness of my Christianity. It is the symbol of its vitality.
The corpse of Jesus was not removed by thieves, nor by well-meaning admirers intent on giving Him a decent burial. The women disciples, early on Easter morning, expected to find a closed tomb and within it, the body of Jesus. Whatever hope they had placed in Jesus had died on Calvary. Surely, as they came to the tomb, they were of all people, the most pitiable.
And here am I, so many centuries after these lamentable events, preaching the resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of us all to people who say their ‘Amen’ to my words.
This is something extraordinary. We believe with unshakable faith that the dead do rise, precisely in the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Where is the evidence for such faith? What gives to it such absolute certainty?
Why do I and so many others believe in the resurrection of Jesus and stake our lives on this, some even being prepared to die for this?
My celebration of Easter demands answers. This amazing faith is an amazing gift of grace from God. It is parallel to that act of faith by St Peter – “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” to which Jesus replied, “You are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency  that revealed this to you, but My Father in heaven.” (Matt 16:16)
No human agency has brought about my faith in the resurrection of Jesus, nor has the report of the empty tomb, nor the accounts of the appearances of Jesus after the crucifixion, nor the preaching and teaching from the time of the apostles to the present day. It is God Himself who has produced in my mind and heart, and yours, the conviction of faith.
I reach God at Easter and throughout my life as I dismiss the tantalizing speculations of St Paul’s momentous ‘ifs’.
Because I believe with unwavering faith and enthusiasm I count myself the most blessed of people. My faith in the risen Jesus is not fanciful. It is not pathetic. It is terrific!

Peter Clarke O.P