In Ages Past
Easter Sermon, 1876: Rev. Algernon A. Brown, C.S.P. (1848-1878)
Poor, repentant sinners! You who during Lent have kissed the feet of Jesus and stood beneath his cross in the confessional, what a day of joy, what a lesson of consolation comes to you! Who was it upon whom fell the first ray of Resurrection glory? Who is it upon whom the great voice of the church liturgy, in the Holy Sacrifice, calls today? Ah! it was and is upon the "sometime sinner, Mary." Joy! Joy! For the forgiven sinner today. Alleluia! Alleluia! to you, blood-washed children of Jesus Christ; for she who saw the Master first was once a sinner like unto you.
Alleluia, and joy and peace, unto you all in Jesus' name, and in the name of the redeemed and pardoned Mary! Alleluia, and joy and peace! Whether you be sinner as she was, or saint as she became. Alleluia, and joy and peace! For "Christ our hope hath risen, and he shall go before us into Galilee." Alleluia, and joy and peace! For we know that Christ hath risen from the dead. Lord, we know that we are feeble and sinful, but lead, "Conquering King," lead on; go thou before to the heavenly Galilee.
Time was when we feared to follow; but she, "more than martyr and more than virgin," she, Mary Magdalen, is in thy train, and, penitent like her, we follow thee. Alleluia, and joy and peace, to young and old! Alleluia, and joy and peace, to saint and pardoned sinner! For Christ hath risen from the dead.
Note: Born in England, Algernon Brown (1848-1878) converted to Catholicism at 18 and studied for the priesthood in America. Ordained in Cincinnati in 1872, he later joined the Paulist Fathers, a community founded to evangelize the American people. Sermons normally went for an hour, but Father Brown introduced the "five minute sermon" at Low Masses. His brother Louis also became a Paulist, and their brother was parish organist at St. Paul the Apostle, the Paulist motherhouse in Manhattan. Plagued by ill health throughout his life, Father Algernon died in 1878.
Dr. Pat McNamara is a published historian. He blogs about American Catholic History at McNamara's Blog.