Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum…I arose, and am still with thee, Alleluia (Introit).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My very dear sons,

This day marks the moment when all things begin to rise. Not only does the Messiah, Our Lord, rise from the dead, but with Him and in Him the entire human race and the entire cosmos surge ineffably upwards, if such a thing can be said on such a scale. Nothing will ever be the same; the world will never again look like it did before Christ’s Resurrection, the great Paschal event at the center of History. We understand now that it was all the secret of the Father, His design from beginning, from the sad moment when Adam and Eve tumbled into sin, like Jack and Jill down the hill. After creation and the terrible Fall, there was to be a re-creation, a reestablishment of the world, inaugurating a Kingdom without shadow or decline. We already live in that new life, of that divine life in a very real way.

All things begin to rise. Along with Saint Paul, the Church sees this rising of the human race as a renewal, a casting out of what is old and rotten. “Brethren: Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste [lump of dough for making bread], as you are unleavened: for Christ our Pasch is sacrificed.” (I Cor. 5:7-8)  Because Christ has risen and the world with Him, the Christian does not live like the pagans, who dwell in the rottenness of the old world. The Christian, a child of God, has been ennobled, granted a dignity of life unknown to that former time. The old rottenness, the old leaven must be cast out, not just because such is the law, but because there is now a newness of life and a life of an immensely better quality. There is no place for the old man and his base desires and deeds. The sinner, in his pride, pretends to like what is corrupt, but he really hates it. He laughs about his own descent into evil, but his soul lives moments of nightmare and secretly longs to fly upward.

The child has little difficulty entering into the world of Easter. He or she is probably looking out the window right now, where spring is coming with the impetuosity of new life. Nature is the best of books and speaks to us at this time of year of the triumph of light over darkness, of life over death. Little eyes see the big things of God in a simple way. The adventure of human life to the child looks like an Easter egg hunt. Who would condemn such optimism? There is much truth in it.

The adult, on the other hand, cannot help but compare the good news of Christ’s resurrection from the grave with the darkness he sees in the world around us, growing rather than receding. Our sophisticated, our so-called “progressive” society is looking more and more like a great leaking ship caught in the maelstrom of a worldliness never before seen on the face of the earth, even in the time of Noah. Each day seems to bring confirmation of the inevitable downward plunge along the sides of a powerful vortex that none shall escape. Where is Christ’s Resurrection, we might ask, in all of that?

If the pandemonium we see were characteristic of the non-Christians alone, of the neo-pagans, that would be one thing. But great numbers of Christians, great numbers even of Catholics seem to be joining the secular party and its implicit death wish. Priests tell us that many or most of their younger Catholics have already caved in to the fashionable tendencies that are direct negations of Catholic doctrine. The very word “doctrine” elicits mostly frowns. The situation is not good, to formulate it with a sizeable understatement. Many of our most sacred of institutions, especially that of marriage, are being undermined and destroyed. Common sense is trampled underfoot. Soon it may well be against the law publicly to affirm anything so absolute as “the grass is green and the sky is blue.”

And yet, the Church is entirely correct in singing as she does these words we just heard during the procession:

Hail, festal day, venerable of all ages
By which God conquers hell and holds the stars.
Behold, it declares grace for a reborn world
All gifts have returned with their Lord.
For indeed, after hellish sorrows, to the triumphing Christ:
grove with green and buds with flower, everywhere give laud.

During His mortal existence, Our Lord once gave His disciples an excellent lesson that serves to demonstrate what our attitude should be as Christians before the brewing tempest around us. We all know the story, but have, perhaps, never thought of it as an image of Easter.

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awake him, and say to him: Master, doth it not concern thee that we perish? And rising up, he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still. And the wind ceased: and there was made a great calm. (Mk. 4:38-39)

The tempest on the Sea of Galilee did not challenge His powers: rising up from sleep, with a simple gesture of the hand, perhaps, all was calm again.

At Easter all rises, like the sun that rises higher on the horizon each day of spring. Light is one of God’s greatest gifts. Easter is a great festival of light. Pope Benedict spoke of this in one of his homilies for Easter (April 7, 2013), saying,

At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light”. The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light”, says God, “and there was light”: Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

We must not let the threats of the spiritual darkness that surrounds us make too great an impression. The Risen Lord rules the tide of human passions as easily as He once ruled the wild waves of the Sea of Galilee. The whole secret lies in being close to Him, who is the very Light coming into this world. Or, perhaps, the secret is rather in His being close to us. Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum…I arose, and am still with thee. Amen. Alleluia.