Homily for the Requiem of the Very Rev. Craig Edward Young, SSC,
December 19, 2009
at the Pro Cathedral Church of the Epiphany, Columbia, SC
by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC

Dom Gregory Dix, an English Benedictine monk, put it this way:  on Friday “the offering was complete.  His offering cost the Offerer Himself.  The death was real.  Even now, and for ever upon the throne of the universe, it is still true that for three days the Son of Mary was dead…” (Shape, p. 748)

But Jesus’ death was not His defeat and the resurrection His victory.  The cross was the victory.  The resurrection is the Father’s endorsement of that victory.  The resurrection is the Father’s proclamation and demonstration of that victory, wrought in the Holy Spirit.

“The Father accepts the offering and death of the Son, and between sunset on Saturday and dawn on Sunday the death is reversed…a stone is rolled away, some soldiers fall unconscious, a woman cries aloud in a garden, two fishermen race through the dawn to look at the grave clothes,” two grief stricken travelers on a road to Emmaus meet a man who opens the Scriptures to them and is suddenly recognized as Jesus at their dinner table when he takes the bread and blesses, and breaks it, and gives it to them, and then back in Jerusalem the eleven and those who are gathered with them see Jesus standing among them, asking for something to eat.

Jesus’ Resurrection reverses the human verdict passed on Him.  The Father publicly vindicates the purpose of His Son’s death.  Jesus reverses death.  He does not merely survive it.  In His dying and rising again Jesus has reversed the tidal wave of unlove that swept over the fallen world.  The Father’s love is stronger than death.  There is no limit to His love.  Jesus’ bodily resurrection breaks through death into indestructible life…life in which death has no more sway.  This is new life, untainted by any death.  Jesus is revealed in the Holy Spirit as the very life of man, as life itself, as the life of my life.  Jesus’ mighty resurrection is the greatest truth, the greatest event, in the universe.

Jesus’ resurrection is an objective truth, the explosive truth that defines all truth, the Reality which verifies all things, the vision glorious.  We do not attempt to define the resurrection in terms of the world, but we define the world in terms of the resurrection.  The resurrection bestows its meaning on everything.  The resurrection bestows its universal truth on all that exists.  It is the ultimate revelation, the most real event of all time, the event which contains all the others.
Our Lord has transformed death.  Death, the last enemy to be destroyed, is now a passover into the light and joy of the Kingdom.  We cast ourselves into the risen Christ.  We can now see everything in the light of Jesus’ resurrection, a light shed abroad in the Holy Spirit, a sweet fragrance forevermore pervading the entire cosmos.  The Father shows Himself as He really is, in raising His Son from the dead.  He is infinitely reliable.  We are secure and safe in His love.  Our sins are drowned in His love.  Our death is overcome in His love.  Now we can really trust Him and rely on Him.  We are free to let go of fear.  We need never press the panic button.  Sin, death, despair and all grey mediocrity have been overthrown.  All our resources are drawn from a risen, victorious Lord. 

When Rome was falling apart in the 5th century there was an undercurrent of new life in a new creation, full of heavenly gladness, that began to erupt in a new civilization, raised out of the ashes of the falling Empire:  a new civilization based on Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the festal gladness of the weekly Eucharist.

All this is the vision glorious of the radiant Kingdom, of which the Church is the sacrament.  When our dear departed Father Craig caught hold of this, or rather, when it caught hold of him, he became a priest.  He sold what he had for the pearl of great price, and he became a priest.  The vision glorious suffused him with a new purpose, of following in the footsteps of the brave priests of the first Oxford Movement in 19th century England.  Their motto was “dig a pit for the Cross!” Lift high the Cross, the means of our salvation, our life and our resurrection.  “No surrender, no desertion!” to the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery, and the mystery of Christ’s Bride, the vision glorious, by which we change a stubborn world for Christ. 

Our dear Father Craig joined the noble ranks of those who would pour out their life’s sweat, tears and toil for a new Oxford Movement, a return to the Fathers of the undivided Church.    A new Oxford Movement means a cleansing and reform of our Church, faithful in Holy Orders, faithful in the historic Liturgy, faithful in building a culture of life,  faithful in New Testament morality, and faithful in revealing the essential unity of Christ’s Body.  A new Oxford Movement is  the kindling of a new fire, with the vision of new souls won for Christ, new saints made. Solid renewal in the Church has two feet:  devotion to our Lord in the Eucharist, and devotion to our Lord’s Mother.  This Eucharist, this time and place where we meet the risen Lord, has great power to lay hold of our lives and change them.  And Mary is the icon of the Church.  Our Lady’s priceless intercession helps us to be caught up into the exuberant graces of the Most Holy Trinity.  Living thus, Father Craig was a  joyful, enthusiastic, and faithful priest.  He died a Catholic Priest.

No wonder more vocations have come out of this Parish in the last 15 years than from any other.  More men are serving as deacons and priests who started out at the Church of the Epiphany than from any other parish in the Diocese, a Diocese he served with all his heart.
Today there is something we do for Father Craig.  We pray for him.  We pray for the opening, to him, of the gates of larger life, so that he is received more and more into the joyful service of the Kingdom, in that dynamic progression which is  “continual growth in (God’s) love…”  going “from strength to strength, in the life of perfect service.”  We pray for all who mourn his loss. We pray that everyone mourning here today, and everyone mourning throughout the land, may know the consolation of God’s love.

In 1866, during the first Oxford Movement, Samuel John Stone wrote the hymn, “The Church’s one foundation” that was to prove prophetic of our new Oxford Movement, so much of which has been played out here:   

Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.


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