April 21, 2019 – A View From the Rectory

“Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.Suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.“Why do you look for the living among the dead?He is not here, but he has been raised up.”

On December 8, 1875, the German ship the Deutschland sank in the North Sea, off the English coast.Among the 157 passengers who perished were five Franciscan sisters traveling to Missouri to take up new teaching missions.The young nuns sacrificed their own lives so that others might be rescued.According to one account, the sisters remained below deck as the ship sank.As the water rose around them, they clasped hands and were heard praying, “O Christ, O Christ, come quickly!”

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was profoundly moved by the story and wrote a poem about the tragedy, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”, which he dedicated to the five Franciscans.He saw in their deaths a parallel to the suffering of Christ.Hopkins concludes the poem with this line:

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us . . .”

For some of us who live ‘down the shore,’ we would recognize that the word “easter” is a nautical term.It means steering a craft toward the east, into the light.

“Let Him easter in us.”

Easter as a verb—as something we think, something we feel, something we do.

“Let Him easter in us” that we may live our lives in the light of His compassion and peace, His justice and forgiveness.

“Let Him easter in us” that we may be a humble servant like Him, a healer like Him, a teacher like Him, a foot washer like Him.

“Let Him easter in us” that we may bear our crosses for one another as He bore his cross for us.

“Let Him easter in us” that we may, at the end of our voyage, “easter” in Him.

Throughout the forty days of Lent we have been steering our lives toward the light, trying to shake the darkness, the doubts, the burdens of living, the heaviness of hearts.My hope and prayer is that the next 50 days of Easter may be a way of living, a way of loving, a way of seeing and hearing and understanding.May this Easter not just mark a milestone in the life of the Gospel Jesus, but may this Easter mark our lives with the compassion, humility and joy of the Risen One.

May the joy and the hope and the Promise of Easter be yours,

Fr. Pete