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China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Christianity |

By Tom Phillips, Telegraph

It is said to be China's biggest church and on Easter Sunday thousands of worshippers will flock to this Asian mega-temple to pledge their allegiance – not to the Communist Party, but to the Cross.

The 5,000-capacity Liushi church, which boasts more than twice as many seats as Westminster Abbey and a 206ft crucifix that can be seen for miles around, opened last year with one theologian declaring it a "miracle that such a small town was able to build such a grand church".

The £8 million building is also one of the most visible symbols of Communist China's breakneck conversion as it evolves into one of the largest Christian congregations on earth.

"It is a wonderful thing to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It gives us great confidence," beamed Jin Hongxin, a 40-year-old visitor who was admiring the golden cross above Liushi's altar in the lead up to Holy Week.

"If everyone in China believed in Jesus then we would have no more need for police stations. There would be no more bad people and therefore no more crime," she added.

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Most countries still look down on adultery, but Western countries are more relaxed about abortion, divorce, premarital sex and other behaviours

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Culture |

From Christian Today

Attitudes to extramarital affairs remain conservative around the world, according to research by Pew.
 
The Pew Global Attitudes Survey looked at the views of over 40,000 people in 40 countries and found that an overwhelming 78 per cent of people believe that extramarital affairs are morally unacceptable.
 
Only one in 10 said they were not a moral issue and even fewer (7 per cent) said they were morally acceptable.
 
Even in morally relaxed Britain, over two-thirds (76 per cent) said they were unacceptable.
 
In France by comparison, only 47 per cent said affairs were morally unacceptable, while a sizeable 40 per cent said they were not a moral issue and 12 per cent said they were acceptable.
 
Countries with strong religious affiliations were more conservative in their attitudes to affairs. These included Brazil (84 per cent), Egypt (93 per cent), Indonesia (93 per cent), Kenya (80 per cent), Malaysia (90 per cent), and Pakistan (92 per cent).
 
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Jesus Bible verse banned by school in Nazareth, USA

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Religious Liberty |

From The Christian Institute

Valentine’s Day cards after he included a famous Bible verse, an American religious liberty organisation has said.

The boy and his parents prepared cards with John 3:16 and a message telling pupils how much God loves them.

The headteacher, however, banned the cards from being distributed, claiming the note sought to establish religious “supremacy”.

The issue has been taken up by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and it is suing the school district.

Matt Sharp, a lawyer for ADF, said: “Public schools ought to encourage, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas, including those communicated through Valentine’s Day cards.

“A Bible verse and a reference to God does not make such a card unconstitutional”.

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Jerusalem Builded Here: Why England’s Churches are Empty

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Church life |

By Nick Hallett

Easter Sunday may be the holiest day of the year for Christians, but this year more churches than ever will find themselves with empty pews as the British public turn away from organised religion. What went wrong? Why, despite years of liberalisation and modernisation, are churches driving people away?
 
You will have read James Delingpole's piece on why Christianity is dying in Britain. The statistics back up his analysis, revealing that churchgoers are turned off by trendy liberalism, moral relativism and endless arguments over the modernisers' pet projects such as female clergy.
 
In 2007, the Tearfund Trust, a Christian charity, published one of the most detailed ever reports on church attendance in the UK. It said that just 15 percent on the UK go to church at least once a month.
 
Yet it's not as if Britain has suddenly become a secular, atheistic country. According to the same survey, 58 percent of the population still profess to be Christian, while the 2011 Census puts the figure at 59 percent.
 
Also, a huge proportion of those who don’t attend church have been "de-churched" – that is, they once regularly attended church but no longer go.
 
So in other words, despite decades of "modernising", of ditching difficult aspects of faith in order to become more "relevant", and of embracing "alternative lifestyles", Britain's churches are actually driving Christians away in record numbers.
 
A good example of how liberals have got things badly wrong is in their obsessing over the role of women in the church.
 
According to the Tearfund report, the number of men attending church has plummeted to point where 65 percent of regular churchgoers are now female. Against the popular liberal conceptions, the website WhyChurch.org.uk says that this is because it is men, rather than women, who now feel most alienated by the churches.
 
Read here
 
Read also from 2003:  The truth about men & Church by Robbie Low, Touchstone Archives
 
 
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Kids of Gay Parents Reflect on Same-Sex Parenting

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Children/Family |

Bobby LopezBy Rivka Edelman, Bobby Lopez and Dawn Stephanowicz, English Manif

This installment of La Joie de Vivre is Part 1 of a four-part series. In December 2013, three of the most outspoken adults raised by gay parents — Rivka Edelman, Robert Oscar "Bobby" Lopez, and Dawn Stefanowicz — conferred for an hour to talk about same-sex parenting. The recording of their voices will be uploaded with graphics as episodes of Rue des Sages, but for now, English Manif is posting the written transcripts of their conversation for people to peruse.

There are some distinctions among Rivka, Bobby, and Dawn that are important to note at the outset. All three grew up with gay parents in the 1970s. Dawn and Rivka, now in their fifties, experienced some of same-sex parenting in the 1960s, while Bobby, in his early forties, experienced same-sex parenting in the 1980s. All three were raised by gay parents in a time when same-sex parenting was not a political phenomenon, and when the gay community was not particularly interested in the experiences of children raised by gay parents.

Rivka, Bobby, and Dawn are also more educated than the average child of a same-sex couple. Rivka and Bobby both have doctorates in English from highly ranked universities; they are also both professors. Dawn completed her studies in Canada and received her license as an accountant. Since Dawn published Out from Under in 2007, she has been flown around the world, testifying in places like Paraguay; her writing has been translated into languages ranging from Chinese to Portuguese. Likewise, Rivka and Bobby are both published authors.

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The New Whigs

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Christianity |

By Peter Mullen

Fifty prominent secularists have written to the Daily Telegraph – of all places – to complain about David Cameron’s assertion that England is a Christian country. The prime minister’s critics say that his words will encourage sectarianism. But the Anglican Settlement was a miraculous creation in the 16th century as the solution to the very problems of sectarianism and civil wars. Richard Hooker was the inspiration through his “Ecclesiastical Polity” in which he stated “Every man of England a member of the Church of England.” But it was not an odious imposition. You were asked to attend church three times a year – “of which Easter should be one” – and to keep the peace.

Revenants and relics of Christianity persist as shades in the landscape. A cathedral in every city and a parish church in every village. The Queen – Happy Birthday, Ma’am, long may you reign over us – is still head of state and supreme governor of the church. Bishops sit in the Lords. Prayers are said at the opening of parliamentary business. Religious education is still (in theory) required in state schools – though now so diseased by multicultural fads as to be poisonous. Christmas and Easter remain as public holidays. Many of our hospitals and parks are named after saints.

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Stop preaching politics, Tories tell the bishops: Fury as church leaders use Easter speeches to attack government’s ’sinful cuts’

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Politics, Poverty |

By Tamara Cohen, Louise Eccles and Jason Groves, Mailonline

Tories accused church leaders of playing politics last night for using their Easter messages to attack the Government over poverty and ‘sinful’ cuts.

In his sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury highlighted the plight of struggling families ‘left broken and weeping’ by hunger and debt.

He told the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral: ‘In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt.’

And the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Tim Thornton spoke of the ‘sinful consequences’ of the squeeze on local authority budgets.

The bishop, who sits on a committee looking at food banks, told Radio 5 Live: ‘Politicians have to decide how to allocate resources.

And in allocating some resources, you are then inevitably taking away from other people.

‘I am not saying it’s a sin. I am saying that some of these policies lead to effects and consequences which have sinful elements in them.’

The bishops’ comments come amid growing unease over the use of political messages by figures in the Church of England.

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Will David Cameron stand up for persecuted Christians?

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Persecuted church |

By Ed West, Spectator

Last week, David Cameron surprised a number of people when, during a pre-Easter gathering at Downing Street, he spoke about religion. Not religion in general, the all-faiths-and-none diversity-speak of the political class, but his own Christian faith. James Forsyth writes about the implications in this week’s magazine.

But what was most surprising was that the prime minister went further by saying that ‘our religion’ is the most persecuted in the world and that ‘I hope we can do more to raise the profile of the persecution of Christians’. He added: ‘We should stand up against the persecution of Christians and other religious groups wherever and whenever we can, and should be unashamed in doing so.’
 
This is quite a development. The prime minister has on a number of occasions spoken about Islamophobia, and about homophobia, he’s given his opinion on the price of England football tops and Nigella Lawson. But on one of the greatest events of our age – the persecution of Christians – he and his senior colleagues have had nothing to say.
 
By the best calculation, some 7-8,000 Christians are killed for their faith each year. But aside from China and North Korea, the epicentre of persecution is the greater Middle East, and it is a story in which Britain has been not just negligent but complicit.
 
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David Cameron accused of fostering division in ‘Christian’ UK

April 21st, 2014 Posted in Atheism, Christianity |

By Patrick Wintour, Guardian

Prime minister's references to Britain as a Christian country have negative consequences, say campaigners

More than 50 prominent public figures including novelist, diplomats, Nobel prize winners and playwrights have accused David Cameron of fostering divisions in the UK by repeatedly referring to Britain as a Christian country.

Signatories to the letter asserting that Britain is not a Christian country include Philip Pullman, Ken Follett, Prof Alice Roberts, Prof Harold Kroto and Sir Terry Pratchett.

The authors say they respect Cameron's own religious beliefs but say they "object to his repeated mischaracterising of our country as a 'Christian country' and the negative consequences for our politics and society that this view engenders".

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, they assert: "Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established church, we are not a 'Christian country'. Repeated surveys, polls, and studies show most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities and at a social level, Britain has been shaped for the better by many pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces.

"We are a plural society with citizens with a range of perspectives and a largely non-religious society. To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society. Although it is right to recognise the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalise their contribution when it is equalled by British people of different beliefs. It needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who – as polls show – do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritised by their elected government."

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Read also:  Leading academics condemn Cameron's Christian stance. But, hang on, where is Richard Dawkins? by Damian Thompson, Telegraph

The liberal metropolitan elite despise Christianity because it poses a challenge to their moral authority by Toby Young, Telegraph

The Ecology of Political Institutions by Brother Ivo

 

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‘Trojan Horse’ schools: the leaked inspectors’ report

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Education, Islam |

By Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph

Here are extracts from the inspection report, leaked to the Telegraph, into three schools at the centre of the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot to “Islamise” secular state schools in Birmingham. The schools are Park View, Golden Hillock, and Nansen, all part of the Park View Educational Trust. This inspection was carried out by the Department for Education last month. Separate inspections were carried out by Ofsted, many of which, as we report today, are also damning.

As you will see, the report substantiates many of the claims which the schools have for the last six weeks been furiously denying as a “witch-hunt.”

The extracts confirm that

- there is compulsory “gender segregation” in classes at Park View and Golden Hillock, “often with boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides.” (page 17)

- The school has consistently claimed that any segregation was voluntary but as the report makes clear, in a number of classes “students told us that they were required to sit in the places which they were given by teachers” (page 17) and “teachers gave [students] seats in which to sit in class by gender to avoid having to mix” (p10)

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Archbishop of Canterbury likens foodbanks to suffering in Syria

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Archbishop Of Canterbury, Conflict, Poverty |

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Archbishop of Canterbury leads Easter assault on hunger, praising food banks as bishop speaks of “sinful” effect of Coalition cuts

Church leaders renewed their stand-off with the Coalition over hunger in Britain using Easter sermons to speak of poverty and destitution, as one bishop claimed Government cuts were having “sinful consequences”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby singled out the experiences of people turning to food banks in the UK as an example of suffering in the world, alongside the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

He also said those who quietly man food banks were making a more powerful statement of the Christian message than figures such as himself who “shout” about religion on a national stage.

Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, also singled the issue out, speaking of those in Britain and elsewhere who feel “excluded from the fruits of the Earth”.

The new Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, highlighted the demand for food banks in a sermon on the theme of fear.

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Gay marriage: the silence of the Archbishop of Canterbury

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Archbishop Of Canterbury, Gay Marriage |

By Damian Thompson, Telegraph
 
My goodness, this Archbishop of Canterbury is clever. Not in the self-conscious way that Rowan Williams was, but in his deft handling of Cole Moreton's sympathetic but crafty questions in our fascinating two-part interview with him. Take the subject which looms over this Easter Sunday, sowing division in parishes celebrating the Resurrection: gay marriage.

Justin Welby addresses this question in the context of a heartbreaking visit to South Sudan, where 6,000 Christians had been killed but only 3,000 buried. He could smell dead bodies in the cathedral – surely a unique experience for an Archbishop of Canterbury. Life is difficult enough for African Christians facing Islamic persecution: it's often been suggested that they will be targeted even more viciously if their mother Church sanctions marriage between two men. What a gift to Islamists, who could then demonise local Anglicans as members of an organisation that blesses sexual depravity – irrespective of the fact that nearly all African Christians oppose gay marriage.

But if that's your reason for opposing same-sex marriages, says Moreton, then wouldn't that be giving in to a form of blackmail? Here Welby could have waffled but didn't. “It would be. You can’t say, 'We’re not going to do X, which we think is right, because it will cause trouble.’ That’s ridiculous.”

No: the Archbishop's reason for trying to stay the hand of the C of E in blessing gay marriages in church is that the persecuted Anglicans themselves would feel disowned by the leader of the Anglican Communion. To quote Cole Moreton: "In some ways it would be easier for him to yield to campaigners in this country. But Justin Welby believes that to shift doctrine too quickly or too far would be to turn his back on those in South Sudan whose tears he has shared."
 

 
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Stolen Childhood Conference

April 20th, 2014 Posted in News |

A conference to explore the dangers to which our children are increasingly exposed in society today, and the reasons for this, putting forward strategies for change at both government and family levels.

Hosted by the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group

Date: Wednesday, 30th April 2014

Venue: The Emmanuel Centre

9-23 Marsham Street

Westminster SW1P 3DW

Time: 10 am – 5 pm (Registration from 9:30am)
 

Cost: £20 Registration Fee

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God loves us because we’re lovely is not the Gospel

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Sermons |

By Julian Mann

We will not understand the true meaning and significance of Good Friday without the Bible. And that is not just because we have the story, the narrative of Jesus’ death on the cross, in the four New Testament Gospels, which are in the Bible. That is certainly true and very important. But we won’t understand Good Friday with the Gospels in isolation.

We need the Old Testament Scriptures and indeed the rest of the New Testament if we are to grasp what Good Friday means for us. Indeed, we should have noticed as we listened to the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in chapter 19 of John’s Gospel that the Apostle John says three times that something happened to Jesus in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

The Scripture John refers to is the Old Testament Scripture. Jesus’ robe was not torn by the Roman soldiers in order to fulfil Psalm 22, a psalm about the sufferings of the King of Israel. Jesus’ bones were not broken in order to fulfil Exodus 12v46, which was originally a command to the people of Israel not to break the bones of the Passover lamb. And Jesus’ side was pierced, John tells us, in order to fulfil Zechariah 12v10, which was originally about the suffering of God’s chosen Shepherd or leader of his people. All these prophecies are coming true in Jesus, the God-anointed King of Israel, the Christ, the chosen leader of God’s people, and the Lamb of God sacrificed to save God’s people from his judgement.

God is ordering the events of the crucifixion, things happening, things not happening in order to fulfil the Scripture, in order to make Old Testament predictions come true in Jesus.

Read here
 
 
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“Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils”

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Children/Family, Education, Islam |

By Paul Goodman, Conservative Home

More of those in Britain who declare themselves to be Muslims than Christians practice their faith. But only a minority adhere to the Salafist version of Islam, and not all of them will agree that, in school, “boys should always be covered between the navel and the knee and girls should be covered except for their hands and faces, a concept known as ‘hijab’ ” (especially in primary school, or before those girls have reached puberty, or both).
 
Nor will they necessarily believe that “dance performances before a mixed gender audience may also be objectionable”, that “studying forms of music and drama that may raise religious or moral concerns for Muslim pupils and parents”, or that pupils may be exposed in schools to “potentially harmful forms of music”. These strictures are as worrying as they are vague. What are these “harmful” forms of music? Part-song? Minimalism? Tech house? And what dance performances might be “objectionable”? A school rehash of “Strictly”, perhaps? What are the forms of drama that might raise “religious and moral concerns”? A sixth form production of “Romeo and Juliet”, maybe, with a Christian boy and a Muslim girl? “Then have my lips the sin that they have took,” says Juliet, after kissing Romeo for the first time. Would it be a real sin for that kiss to be acted out upon a stage?
 
The questions are as suggestive as the words that provoke them are real. These are all taken from a document called Meeting the Needs of Muslim Pupils, published by the Muslim Council of Britain in 2007, but now missing from the website of that organisation. (The title turns up on google, but the link is blank.) The man who extolled that report in the Guardian, Tahir Alam, is a former Chairman of the MCB’s education committee – and one of the key figures in the Birmingham school row.
 
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Archbishop’s Easter sermon to focus on suffering

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Sermons |

From BBC News

The Archbishop of Canterbury will highlight the suffering of people facing conflict around the world during his Easter sermon.

The Most Rev Justin Welby is to deliver what will be his second Easter message since becoming head of the Church of England at Canterbury Cathedral.

He will refer to the struggles endured by people in Syria, Ukraine, and Rwanda, as well as in Britain.

The archbishop will also praise the resilience of persecuted Christians.

In the sermon, Archbishop Welby will say: "In Syria mothers cry for their children and husbands.

"In the Ukraine neighbours cry because the future is precarious and dangerous. In Rwanda tears are still shed each day as the horror of genocide is remembered.

"In this country, even as the economy improves there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt."

He will go on to say that "asylum seekers weep with loneliness and missing far-away families", adding that as they do, "Mary continues to weep across the world".

Praising the resilience of persecuted Christian minorities, the archbishop will say: "Their certainty that Jesus is alive enables them to face all horrors with joy.

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Christian nursery worker claims unfair dismissal over dispute with gay colleague

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Gay Activism, Religious Liberty |

From The Guardian

A Christian nursery nurse is claiming unfair dismissal after losing her job because she said she told a gay colleague the Bible regards the practice of homosexuality as a sin.

Sarah Mbuyi said she made the comments only after being pressed on her beliefs by a colleague who initiated the conversation at Newpark Childcare in Highbury, north London, in January.

Mbuyi is being supported in her case by the Christian Legal Centre, whose chief executive, Andrea Williams, said the government had "seriously let down" Christians and criticised David Cameron for attempting to "mould Christianity to his political agenda".

Mbuyi, who is claiming unfair dismissal on grounds of religious discrimination, said: "When I said 'No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are', [her colleague] became emotional and went off to report me to my manager."

At an internal disciplinary hearing, she said, she was confronted with her colleague's allegations, which included the claim that she herself had raised the issue of homosexuality on a number of occasions, which she denies. The nursery directors instantly dismissed her for gross misconduct.

"My disciplinary hearing was hopelessly one-sided because they put my accuser's claims to me as fact, without any forewarning and so I wasn't prepared. It seemed to me they had already made up their minds to justify sacking me, before hearing my side of the story, " Mbuyi said.

Read here

Read also:  Christian nursery nurse sacked for saying marriage is between a man and a woman from Christian Concern

Christian nursery worker 'sacked after refusing to read gay stories to children' by Edward Malnick, Telegraph

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Rembrandt: The Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene

April 20th, 2014 Posted in News |

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker, Artway

Rembrandt situates Mary Magdalene and Jesus near the opening of the tomb, in close reference to John’s account of the events on this morning of mornings. Mary Magdalene has stayed behind alone at the grave after Peter and John have gone back to Jerusalem. She thinks that the body of Jesus must have been moved to some other place, but which one? She bends over to look inside the tomb and sees two angels sitting there. ‘Why are you weeping?’ they ask her. ‘They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Then she looks around and sees a man standing there, whom she assumes is the gardener.

This is the moment that is depicted in the painting. Mary Magdalene looks up with a glance that is turned inwards. ‘Kyrie,’ ‘Sir,’ she says in Greek, ‘if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him.’ Then Jesus calls her by her name: ‘Mary!’ On her face we see recognition break through, mixed with ‘No, but this can’t be true!’ She recognizes his voice and says ‘Rabboni!,’ ‘Master/teacher,’ in her own familiar Aramaic language. She calls him ‘master,’ as she is indeed one of his disciples, one of the women who went with Jesus and ministered to him and the disciples with their money and care. Then Jesus asks her not to hold on to him (she must have thrown her arms around him) and tells her to go and tell the disciples that he will ascend to the Father. This is why the church fathers gave Mary Magdalene the title of honour of ‘apostle to the apostles.’ She was the first to preach the good news of the resurrection. She was also the first to behold the risen Lord. A woman!

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Thine be the glory (Handel, Judas Maccabeus)

April 20th, 2014 Posted in News |

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
endless is the victory, thou o'er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Refrain:
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict'ry, thou o'er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

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Easter Sunday

April 20th, 2014 Posted in Holy Week |

Date

1st

Psalm

Epistle

Gospel

Apr 20

  Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

         Col 3:1-4
     or 1 Cor 5:6b-8

    John 20:1-9
   or Luke 24:13-35

 

EASTER  SUNDAY – Feast of the Resurrection

LITURGICAL THEME FOR THE DAY: This is the Sunday of Sundays, the day of Resurrection of Christ, the center and foundation of our faith. As Saint Paul said, "If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain" [I Cor. 15:14, 17]. Thus Easter is the pinnacle of all feasts of the Church year, which began with Advent, or the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, sent by God to provide the means for our Salvation. The culmination of the entire liturgy is the Easter feast. Families who attend Mass on Easter Day join millions of Christians all over the world — past and present — in joyous affirmation of our redemption through the love of Christ, our hope of salvation, and our faith in the resurrection from the dead and the life of the world to come. Either the Easter Vigil or Mass of the Day fulfills the obligation for Easter Mass, the Easter Day.

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