Lenten talks in Limerick's Glenstal Abbey on rarely heard readings of Easter Vigil

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Monk and lecturer, Fr Luke Macnamara

Monk and lecturer, Fr Luke Macnamara

A SERIES of lectures commence this Sunday in Glenstal Abbey, which will explore the rarely heard readings of the Easter Vigil.

Fr Luke Macnamara “greatly laments” the fact that congregations don’t get the opportunity to listen to them more because they “speak about key issues concerning humanity, and ultimately about life and death”.

“The series will explore in sequence the readings of the Easter Vigil. This is the holiest night of the Christian calendar, when the resurrection of Jesus is first proclaimed each year. From the earliest times in the Church, the seven Old Testament readings have been specifically chosen for this night. Most parishes only use a selection of the readings. The entire cycle of readings is either considered too long or certain readings are judged too problematic,” said the Glenstal Monk.

Indeed, many have a distant relationship with the Old Testament and find it harsh and violent, says Fr Macnamara. 

“Strangely, the Easter Vigil contains perhaps the most difficult readings of all, the sacrifice of Isaac, where Abraham is apparently asked by God to offer up his son and the crossing of the Red Sea which results in the Hebrews rejoicing at the drowning of their enemies, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. At first glance, it is very hard to understand how God could ask such a thing of Abraham, or how he could exterminate so many in the Red Sea. There is a real risk of getting a warped notion of God through an overly simplistic reading.

“Given the number of readings at the Easter Vigil it is usually not possible for the celebrant to preach about them and usually the focus is upon the Gospel. While this is understandable, it does mean that congregations have little opportunity to reflect more deeply on these special readings. This is to be greatly lamented because these readings speak about key issues concerning humanity, and ultimately about life and death,” said Fr Macnamara, a lecturer in Sacred Scripture, St Patrick’s College Maynooth.

The lecture series seeks to explore the logic behind the choice of these readings, and how they function as stories that entice, engage and transform their readers and hearers. 

Dr Terence Crotty OP, Francis Cousins, Dr Jessie Rogers, Columba McCann, Martin Browne and Fr Macnamara will give the talks

The lectures take place in the monastery library each Sunday in Lent at 4.30pm and are followed by tea and coffee. Afterwards all are welcome to attend Sunday Vespers at 6pm in the Abbey Church. The talks commence this Sunday, February 18. For further information please see www.glenstal.org or email guestmaster@glenstal.com.