Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia: posuisti super me manum tuam, alleluia: mirabilis facta est scientia tua, alleluia, alleluia. Domine, probasti me, et cognovisti me: tu cognovisti sessionem mean, et resurrectionem meam.
I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluia: Thou has laid Thin hand upon me, alleluia: They knowledge is become wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. Thou hast searched me, and known Me: Thou knowest my sitting down and my rising up. (Introit, Easter Sunday)
Holy Mother Church calls us on Easter Sunday to give witness to that which we have not seen with our own eyes. Holy Mother Church places in the Mass of Low Sunday the words of Our Lord to Saint Thomas, words which are quite apt for us who have never seen the Resurrected Lord. “You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen Me; happy are those who have not seen Me, but still believe!”
Indeed, the Gospels contain no eyewitness report of the actual event of Our Lord walking out of the tomb in which His lifeless Body had spent forty hours after His Death on the wood of the Holy Cross. The soldiers were asleep when the earthquake occurred and the stone was rolled back, revealing that Our Lord already had risen from the dead, having passed through the boulder as miraculously as He passed through Our Lady’s Virginal and Immaculate Womb during His Nativity in Bethlehem. Most of the Apostles were hiding in fright in the Upper Room. Our Lady, to whom tradition teaches us Our Lord appeared first following His Resurrection, was keeping a prayer vigil. Saint Mary Magdalene and the other women were on their way womb to the tomb. No one saw the actual event of the Resurrection.
Of course, Our Lord did rise from the dead. The Resurrection of the God-Man from the dead following his Crucifixion on Good Friday is the central fact of our Catholic Faith. Everything in the entirety of the Church’s liturgical life leads up to and proceeds from Easter Sunday. There is, as many a priest has preached on this very day, an empty tomb in Jerusalem.
The Jews and other unbelievers say that the tomb is empty because His disciples stole the body. We who are His followers today say that He got up and walked out of the tomb forty hours after He died on the wood of the Holy Cross. It is either one or the other. If the Jews and other unbelievers are right, then, as Saint Paul noted, we are the most pitiable of men and our Faith is in vain. If Our Lord did indeed rise from the dead on the Third Day, as we know happened, then every aspect of our daily lives must revolve around cooperating with the graces He won for us on Calvary and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces, so that our bodies will get up and arise from their tombs in a glorified state at the Last Day when He comes to judge the living and the dead.
However, Our Lord arranged things so that we would have to put faith in the word of those who saw Him after the Resurrection. He wanted us to see the transformation that would take place in the lives of those eyewitnesses following the descent of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, upon them and Our Lady in tongues of flame on Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after Easter, in the same Upper Room in Jerusalem where He had instituted the Priesthood and the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He wanted to teach us that the graces He won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross–and which are administered to us by Holy Mother Church in the sacraments–are as powerful now as they were immediately after His Resurrection and Ascension to the Father’s right hand in glory. The Apostles were willing to run the risk even of physical death to bear witness of the fact of the Resurrection. So must we.
Our Lord’s Resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday came after He had spent forty hours in the tomb in His Sacred Humanity. In His Sacred Divinity, though, Our Lord rescued all of the souls of the just from their place of detention, even stretching out his arms to the first Adam, who had made necessary His own death on the Tree of Life on Golgotha that is the Holy Cross. Although the Apostles were frightened and many of the Jews in Jerusalem thought that they had rid themselves of a delusional, self-proclaimed prophet, Our Lord was teaching us even in those forty hours of darkness and waiting.
The forty hours Our Lord’s Sacred Humanity spent lifeless in the tomb are supposed to teach us that we need to patient as we wait for the moment of our own Particular Judgments. We need to be patient as we bear the crosses we are asked to bear in our daily lives, as well as in the midst of the Church and in the world. We need to be people of faith, never losing hope in the fact that Our Lord is with us at every moment of our lives, that there is never any cross that is beyond our capacity to bear with perfect equanimity and no semblance of anxiety or doubt. This mortal life of ours is relatively short in comparison with eternity. We need to be patient, to do the work of the Apostles, to be assiduous in prayer and faithful to our total consecration to Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Our bodies, too, will rise up out of their tombs incorrupt and glorious on the Last Day if we remain faithful to the point of our dying breaths in a state of Sanctifying Grace.
Our Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday was not the resuscitation back to the mere mortal life experienced by Lazarus. No, Our Lord went forth into a new and glorified state that had been experienced by no human being before Him. Our Lord’s glorified Body had properties It did not have prior to the Resurrection. The glorified Body of the Divine Redeemer reminds us, therefore, that the bodies of all of the just will have those same properties for all eternity when they are reunited to our souls on the Last Day. The Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not only the symbol of His total triumph over the power of sin an death. It is also a vivid reminder to us of the joy that awaits those who persevere until the end as His faithful disciples, members of the Church He created upon the Rock of Saint Peter, the Pope, an office that cannot be held by one who embraces propositions condemned repeatedly by the Catholic Church and who countenances apostasies as they are uttered within his own earshot, as happened on Good Friday, March 21, 2008, as the nefarious Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., Cap., dared to speak blasphemous words in front of the man who believed himself to be, albeit falsely, the Vicar of Christ, that was reviewed many years ago now in Masquerade Party. and Recycling Very Old Material at Jorge's Ding Dong School of Apostasy.
Easter Sunday is one of the very proofs of the doctrine of Papal Primacy that is denied by Protestants and the Orthodox alike. Yes, Saint John the Evangelist, who alone among the Apostles was present at the foot of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Most Holy Cross along with the Blessed Mother and Saint Mary Magdalen and a handful of others, indicated his own deference to the headship of Saint Peter when recounting their visit to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday:
And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulchre. And they both ran together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying; but yet he went not in.
Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lying. And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped into one place.
Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw, and believed. (John 20: 1-8)
Saint John the Beloved, being much younger than Saint Peter, had outrun the first pope to the empty tomb. Out of respect for the absolute Primacy of the Fisherman, however, Saint John peered into the tomb but did not enter it until after the Supreme Pontiff had arrived and entered it himself, finding that the head piece of Church’s Divine Bridegroom, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, had been carefully wrapped up and placed aside. None of the Apostles was loved more by Our Lord than Saint John. He, though, deferred to the Apostle who had denied Our Lord three times, who was not present with him and Our Lady at the foot of the Divine Master’s Holy Cross, teaching us humility and respect for the Petrine Office.
Easter Sunday teaches also to have no doubt about any article of the Faith. Saint Thomas the Apostle doubted that Our Lord had Risen from the dead. He wanted to put his fingers into the nail prints on Our Lord’s hands and press his hand into Our Lord’s Wounded Side. He saw, and believed. We who do not see believe on the word of those saw Him as He rose from the dead. Let us never waver in our Faith. As Saint Paul said:
For whether I, or they, so we preach, and so you have believed. Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again.
For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins.Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep:
For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.
Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality, and power, and virtue.For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Cor. 15:11-25)
The purpose of human existence is to know, love and serve God in this life through His true Church so we will live with Him forever in Heaven. It is for this supreme moment of radiating joy that Our Lord came into the world, paying back the debt of our own sins so that we could have life and have it to the fullest. Thus, our old lives of unbelief and self-centeredness must be forever buried in the waters of our baptism. We must put on the new man Who is Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is why our Godparents were given a white baptismal gown to place on us.
Consider just one parallelism of this glorious day, Easter Sunday, a day so glorious that it is extended into an Octave of celebrations.
The first Adam was placed in a garden, the Garden of Eden. His work was to till the soil, first in Eden before the Fall from Grace without sweat and then to do so in great sweat and toil after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the Gates of Heaven were tied shut by his own having stretched out his arm to the wood of a tree to partake of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The second Adam, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, stretched out His arms on the wood of the Tree of Life, that is, the wood of the Holy Cross, to win back for us what was lost by Adam when He partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The new Eve, the new Mother of the Living, Our Lady, had untied the knot of Eve’s prideful disobedience by her perfect fiat to the Will of the Heavenly Father at the Annunciation. The Gates of Heaven, which had been tied shut as a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, were re-opened on Ascension Thursday as a result of the obedience of the new Eve at the Annunciation and the new Adam on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Moreover, the new Adam was supposed to be the gardener when He was seen but not recognized by Saint Mary Magdalen on this very day, Easter Sunday:
But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid. They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. (John 20: 11-15.)
The first Adam was a gardener. So is the New Adam, Our Crucified and Resurrected Saviour, who is still at work as the Gardener of our immortal souls, seeking to till them so that they can bear more fruit as the worthy beneficiaries of the seeds that He seeks to bring to fruition in us by means of the graces He won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every single drop of His Most Precious Blood and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces. We must rely upon Our Lady’s maternal intercession to help Her Divine Son’s seeds of Sanctifying Grace purge out the old man with the new life He has won for us by His Death on the wood of the Holy Cross, seeking at the same time to have nothing to do with idolaters, including the idolaters of the counterfeit church of conciliarism who extol false religions and accept images of the idols worshiped by their adherents:
Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened. For Christ our pasch is sacrificed. Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in an epistle, not to keep company with fornicators. I mean not with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or the extortioners, or the servers of idols; otherwise you must needs go out of this world.
But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within?For them that are without, God will judge. Put away the evil one from among yourselves. (1 Cor. 5: 7-13.)
We must understand that we are meant to shine forth always the light of Christ in the world, which is why our Godparents held a lit candle at the moment of our baptism. Easter Sunday teaches us that Our Lord wants us to be transfigured glory for all eternity. And we must understand that every aspect of our daily lives–and of the lives of nations themselves, as Pope Pius XI reminded Catholics in Quas Primas, December 11, 1925, must reflect the reality of the Incarnation, Nativity, Hidden Years, Public Ministry, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Although many people who attend Mass on Easter Sunday will not return until Christmas, we must try to get to Holy Mass as frequently as we can during the week throughout the course of a year so that the old yeast can be purged and replaced with the graces we receive in the Holy Eucharist.
Our Lord first appeared to Our Lady following His Resurrection. He had become incarnate in her Virginal and Immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. Her Immaculate Heart suffered a communion of perfect love with His Most Sacred Heart. It was to Our Lady, therefore, that Our Lord first appeared so as to present Himself to her in His glorified Body just as she had received Him as a helpless embryo at the moment of the Annunciation. We must rely upon her maternal intercession as the Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces to help us be participants in her Divine Son’s Easter victory over sin and death, receiving her Divine Son’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion with the same purity, humility, devotion and fervor with which she received the Eucharist prior to her own death and bodily Assumption into Heaven.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great gave us the following lesson to consider about this day, the zenith of Holy Mother Church's entire liturgical year:
Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard the deed of the holy women which had followed the Lord; how that they brought sweet spices to His sepulchre, and, now that He was dead, having loved Him while He was yet alive, they followed Him with careful tenderness still. But the deed of these holy women doth point to somewhat which must needs be done in the holy Church. And it behoveth us well to give ear to what they did, that we may afterward consider with ourselves what we must do likewise after their example. We also, who believe in Him That was dead, do come to His sepulchre bearing sweet spices, when we seek the Lord with the savour of good living, and the fragrant report of good works. Those women, when they brought their spices, saw a vision of Angels, and, in sooth, those souls whose godly desires do move them to seek the Lord with the savour of good lives, do see the countrymen of our Fatherland which is above.
It behoveth us to mark what this meaneth, that they saw the Angel sitting on the right side. For what signifieth the left, but this life which now is? or the right, but life everlasting? Whence also it is written in the Song of Songs ii. 6: His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me. Since, therefore, our Redeemer had passed from the corruption of this life which now is, the Angel which told that His undying life was come, sat, as became him, on the right side. They saw him clothed in a white garment, for he was herald of the joy of this our great solemnity, and the glistering whiteness of his raiment told of the brightness of this holy Festival of ours. Of ours, said I? or of his? But if we will speak the truth, we must acknowledge that it is both his and ours. The Again-rising of our Redeemer is a Festival of gladness for us, for us it biddeth know that we shall not die for ever; and for Angels also it is a festival of gladness, for it biddeth them know that we are called to fulfill their number in heaven.
See this glad Festival then, which is both his and ours, the Angel appeared in white raiment. For as the Lord, rising again from the dead, leadeth us unto the mansions above, He repaireth the breaches of the heavenly Fatherland. But what meaneth this, that the Angel said unto the women which came to the sepulchre: Fear not? Is it not as though he had said openly: Let them fear which love not the coming of the heavenly countrymen; let them be afraid who are so laden by fleshly lusts, that they have lost all hope ever to be joined to their company. But as for you, why fear ye, who, when ye see us, see but your fellow countrymen? Hence also Matthew, writing of the guise of the Angel, saith xxviii. 3: His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow. The lightning speaketh of fear and great dread, the snow of the soft brilliancy of rejoicing. (Pope Saint Gregory the Great, as found in Matins, The Divine Office, Easter Sunday.)
This is indeed a festival of gladness, a time of rejoicing that last fifty days, which is ten days longer than the strict penitential season of Lent and symbolic of the fact that eternity is without end whereas our life in this passing, mortal vale of tears comes to an end when we least expect. The glories that await the souls of the just are unfathomable, which should inspire us to realize that even the legitimate joys of this world are fleeting and must never be the principal occuption of our Catholic lives.
Father Benedict Baur provided the following reflection on this glorious day whereupon Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s Easter Victory over sin and death was made manifest:
For the celebration of the Easter Mass we accompany the catechumens to the church of St. Mary Major. Mary, to whom this church is dedicated, was bequeathed to redeemed humanity as she stood under the cross on Calvary. After greeting the risen Christ, we congratulate Mary: “Rejoice, O Queen of heaven, alleluia.”
Christ rose the dead, and He turns first to His heavenly Father. “I rose up and am still with Thee” (Introit). Thus He casts Himself in devoted and grateful love on the bosom of His Father. “Thou hast laid Thy hand upon Me” through the shame and humiliation I suffered during My passion. Now this same hand is held out to glorify Him and cover Him with splendor; “Thy knowledge is become wonderful” (Introit). Yesterday the humiliation and bitterness of the cross, today the splendor of heavenly glory!
We can have no doubt concerning Christ’s resurrection. “The Lord is risen indeed” (Luke 23:34). Heretofore the divinity of Christ appeared only in His miracles; now it shines in its fullness. From Him who yesterday died on the cross, now comes grace, life, and pardon. By the resurrection of Christ, God set the seal of divine approval on all that Christ had taught, on all that He had done, and on the Church which He had established. “This Jesus hath God raised again” (Acts 2:32; 3:13). Every word, then, that He spoke is infallibly true. Therefore men must submit to Christ and accept His commandments without question. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Resurrection settles all our doubts and makes us inconceivably rich. How wonderfully God glorified Christ in the Resurrection! We must place all our faith in Him and rejoice from the bottom of our heart.
With Christ we, too, have risen. Christ not only redeemed us, the living, from sin: He redeemed also the dead. He “hath raised us up together and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). Our future is most intimately joined to that of Christ. He is risen; so we, too, must rise. Because we belonged to the race of Adam, we shared death with him. Because we now belong to the new Adam, we shall so share His resurrection to eternal life. “When Christ shall appear appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). “For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again, your faith is in vain, for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and the first fruits of them that sleep. For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But every one is in his own order; the first fruits. Christ, then they they are of Christ” (1 Cor. 15: 16-23).
The lessons of Holy Saturday and the blessing of the baptismal font announce the resurrection of the soul from sin. The entire season of Lent prepared the soul for this rebirth. The Church compares the emergence of the Christian from the baptismal font to the resurrection of Christ from the tomb. In this sense St. Paul declares: “If you be risen with Christ [that is, baptized], seek the things that are above, . . . not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead [to sin], and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:1 ff.). Because you have risen with Christ, “purge out the old leaven [from your soul], that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened [new, reborn]. ….. . Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (Epistle).
“I rose up and am still with Thee” (Introit). After His labors and his humiliations, Christ finds rest with His Father. “I am still with Thee.” This perfect beatitude. Through His cross He entered into the possession of eternal glory. Christ has gained the crown of victory; through Christ men also win their crowns of victory. Humanity was under a curse and subject to the wrath of God. Now that they have risen with Christ, their guilt has been destroyed. “I rose up and am still with Thee.” The liturgy places these words in the mouth of the Church that she may pray them with Christ.
“The earth trembled and was still when God arose in judgment” (Offertory). The resurrection of Christ is the judgment and condemnation of those who have turned away from God. This judgment was prefigured by the angel who passed through the land of Egypt destroying the first-born of the Egyptians. The Israelites marked the doors of their homes with the blood of the paschal lamb. We are the new Israel, and “Christ our Pasch is sacrificed” (Gradual). We mark ourselves with His blood, which we enjoy in the Holy Eucharist. We have been pardoned, we are saved. we shall live.
“He is risen.” The resurrection of Christ is a pledge of our own resurrection. It is the foundation upon which our faith rests. It is the guarantee of our redemption and God’s assurance that our sins are forgiven and that we are called to eternal life. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein. Give praise to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever. Alleluia” (Gradual). “Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. . . . The Lamb redeems the sheep, Christ, the innocent One, hath reconciled sinners to the Father” (Alleluia verse, Sequence). (Father Benedict Baur, The Light of the World, Volume I, pp. 446-448.)
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. had stated this same theme nearly a century before his fellow Benedictine, Father Benedict Baur:
He is risen: He is not here! The Corpse, laid by the hands of them that loved their Lord, on the slab that lies in that cave, is risen; and, without removing the stone that closed the entrance, has gone forth, quickened with a life which can never die. No man has helped him. No prophet has stood over the dead Body, bidding it return to life. It is Jesus himself, and by his own power, that has risen. He suffered death, not from necessity, but because he so willed; and again, because he willed, he has delivered himself from its bondage. O Jesus! Thou, that thus mockest death, art the Lord our God! We reverently bend our knee before this empty tomb, which is now for ever sacred, because for a few hours, it was the place of thy abode. Behold the place where they laid him! Behold the winding-sheet and bands, which remain to tell the mystery of thy having been once dead! The angel says to the women: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified! The recollection makes us weep. Yes, it was but the day before yesterday that his Body was carried hither, mangled, wounded, bleeding. Here, in this cave, form which the angel has now rolled back the stone—in this cave, which his presence fills with a more than mid-day brightness—stood the afflicted Mother. It echoed the sobs of them that were at the burial. John and the two disciples, Magdalen and her companions. The sun sank beneath the horizon, and the first day of Jesus’ burial began. But the prophet had said: ‘In the evening weeping shall have place; and in the morning gladness.’ This glorious, happy morning has come. O Jesus! And great indeed is our gladness at seeing that this same sepulchre, whither we followed thee with aching hearts, is now but the trophy of thy victory! Thy precious wounds are healed! It was we that caused them; permit us to kiss them. Thou art now living, more glorious than ever, and immortal. And because we resolved to die to our sins, when thou wast dying in order to expiate them, thou willest that we, too, should live eternally with thee; that thy victory over death should be ours; that death should be for us, as it was for thee, a mere passage to immortality, and should one day give back, uninjured and glorified, these bodies which are to be lent for a while to the tomb. Glory, then, and honour, and love, be to thee, O Jesus! who didst deign not only to die, but to rise again for us! (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year: Volume 7—Paschaltide, Book 1, pp. 146-148.)
Our Lord's Easter victory over the power of sin and eternal death is His pledge to us of the glory that can be ours if only we perserve with the graces He won for us during His Passion and Death on the wood of the Holy Cross, which is for us the true Tree of Life from which we are fed His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion, until the end of our lives, which can come at any moment.
Saint Gertrude the Great was spoken to by none other than Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ about the glories of this very day, Easter Sunday, and on Easter Thursday:
As St. Gertrude prayed fervently before Matins on the blessed night of the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to her, full of majesty and glory. Then she cast herself at His feet, to adore Him devoutly and humbly, saying, “O glorious Spouse, joy of the Angels, Thou Who hast shown me the favor of choosing me to be Thy Spouse, whom am the least of Thy creatures! I ardently desire Thy glory, and my only friends are those who love Thee; therefore I beseech Thee to pardon the souls of Thy special friends [the footnote speaks of the belief that "this seems to refer to the souls in Purgatory] by the virtue of Thy most glorious Resurrection. And to obtain this grace from Thy goodness, I offer Thee, in union with Thy Passion, all the sufferings which my continual infirmities have cause me.” Then Our Lord, having favored her with many caresses, showed her a great multitude of souls who were freed from their pains, saying: “Behold, I have given them to you as a recompense for your rare affection; and through all eternity they will acknowledge that they have been delivered through your prayers, and you will be honored and glorified for it.” She replied: “How many are they?” He answered: “This knowledge belongs to God alone.” As she feared these souls, though freed from their pains, were not yet admitted to glory, she offered to endure whatever God might please, either in body or soul, to obtain their entrance into that beatitude; and Our Lord, won by her fervor, granted her request immediately.
Some time after, as the Saint suffered most acute pain in her side, she made an inclination before a crucifix; and Our Lord freed her from the pain, and granted the merit of it to these souls, recommending them to make her a return by their prayers.
After this, the Saint impelled by the fervor of her love, presented herself before her Spouse, and said to Him: “O my only Love, as I have nothing which can render me worthy to appear before the King of kings, and as I cannot correspond in any degree to Thy love, all I can do is to give Thee all the life and strength of my body and soul as long as I live, to honor Thy glorious Resurrection.” Our Lord replied: “I regard this offering of your love for Me as a royal scepter, which I will bear gloriously before the Most Holy Trinity, and in the sight of all the Saints.” To this Gertrude answered: “Although Thy grace has prompted me to make this offering, nevertheless I fear, on account of my own instability, lest I should forget what I have promised Thee.” But Our Lord replied: “And what will it matter if you do? For I will not allow what you have once given Me to escape from My hand; but I will always preserve it, as a proof of your love for Me; and whenever you renew your intention, this scepter will be adorned with flowers and precious stones.”
When the Alleluia at the Invitatory, the Saint animated all the powers of her body and soul to recite the Matins of the Resurrection with devotion, saying to Our Lord: “Teach me, I beseech Thee, O Master full of sweetness, in what manner I can best praise Thee by the ALLELUIA which is so often repeated on this Feast.” Our Lord replied: “You can praise Me by the Alleluia, by uniting it to the praises which the Saints and Angels constantly offer Me in Heaven. You will observe that all of the vowels, except the o, which signifies grief, are found in this word; and that instead of this o, the a is repeated twice. At the first a you will praise me with the Saints for the glorious immortality by which the sufferings of My Humanity and the bitterness of My Passion were rewarded; at the e, praise Me for the sweet and ineffable joys which gladden My eyes in gazing upon the Most Holy Trinity; at the u, unite yourself with the delight which I find in hearing the concerts of praises in honor of the Blessed Trinity which are sung by the Saints and Angels; at the i enjoy the sweet perfumes and odors which I find in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity; at the second a, which is put in place of the o, rejoice that My Humanity, which was formerly passible and mortal, is now filled with the Divine immorality.”
After this, as she continued to recite the Matins, she was taught at each Psalm, each Response, and each Lesson, the sense which best corresponded with the solemnity of so great a day, and which best expressed the inconceivable pleasures which a soul enjoys when it is united to God. (The Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, pp. 377-379.)
On Thursday in Easter week as the Gospel was read which relates how Magdalen “stopped down and looked into the sepulchre and saw two Angels.” St. Gertrude said to Our Lord: “Into what sepulchre shall I look to find the consolation of my spirit?” Our Lord then showered her the sacred Wound of His Side, where, instead of two Angels, she heard two things: first, “You shall never be separated from My company”; and secondly, “All your actions are perfectly agreeable to me.” She was much surprised at this, and began to consider how it could be, since she thought her actions could not be pleasing to anyone, and saw in them herself such great imperfections, while the Divine light enabled her to discover a thousand faults where others could not see any; but Our Lord said to her: “The good and praiseworthy custom which you have of recommending your actions to Me so frequently, and of placing them in My hands, makes Me correct those which are defective, that they may please Me perfectly and all My celestial court.” (The Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great, reprinted by TAN Books and Publishers, pp. 383-383.)
The Venerable Mary of Agreda was given the following account of the Resurrection by Our Lady, to whom Our Lord appeared first as He arose in His glorified Body and passed miraculously through stone that sealed His tomb:
755. The divine soul of Christ our Redeemer remained in limbo from half past three of Friday afternoon, until after three of the Sunday morning following. During this hour He returned to the sepulchre as the victorious Prince of the angels and of the saints, whom He had delivered from those nether prisons as spoils of his victory and as an earnest of his glorious triumph over the chastised and prostrate rebels of hell. In the sepulchre were many angels as its guard, venerating the sacred body united to the Divinity. Some of them, obeying the command of their Queen and Mistress, had gathered the relics of the sacred blood shed by her divine Son, the particles of flesh scattered about, the hair torn from his divine face and head, and all else that belonged to the perfection and integrity of his most sacred humanity. On these the Mother of prudence lavished her solicitous care. The angels took charge of these relics, each one filled with joy at being privileged to hold the particles which he was able to secure. Before any change was made, the body of the Redeemer was shown to the holy Fathers in the same wounded, lacerated and disfigured state in which it was left by the cruelty of the Jews. Beholding Him thus disfigured in death, the Patriarchs and Prophets and other saints adored Him and again confessed Him as the incarnate Word, who had truly taken upon Himself our infirmities and sorrows (Is. 53:4) and paid abundantly our debts, satisfying in his innocence and guiltlessness for what we ourselves owed to the justice of the eternal Father. There did our first parents Adam and Eve see the havoc wrought by their disobedience, the priceless remedy it necessitated, and the immense goodness and mercy of the Redeemer. As they felt the effects of his copious Redemption in the glory of their souls, they praised anew the Omnipotent and Saint of saints, who had with such marvelous wisdom wrought such a salvation.
756. Then, in the presence of all those saints, through the ministry of those angels, were united to the sacred body all the relics, which they had gathered, restoring it to its natural perfection and integrity. In the same moment the most holy soul reunited with the body, giving it immortal life and glory. Instead of the winding sheets and the ointments, in which it had been buried, it was clothed with the four gifts of glory, namely: with clearness, impassibility, agility and subtility (Jn. 19:40). These gifts overflowed from the immense glory of the soul of Christ into the sacred body. Although these gifts were due to it as a natural inheritance and participation from the instant of its conception, because from that very moment his soul was glorified and his whole humanity was united to the Divinity; yet they had been suspended in their effects upon the purest body, in order to permit it to remain passible and capable of meriting for us our own glory (Inc.147). In the Resurrection these gifts were justly called into activity in the proper degree corresponding to the glory of his soul and to his union with the Divinity. As the glory of the most holy soul of Christ our Savior is incomprehensible and ineffable to man, it is also impossible entirely to describe in our words or by our examples the glorious gifts of his deified body, for in comparison to its purity, crystal would be obscure. The light inherent and shining forth from his body so far exceeds that of the others, as the day does the night, or as many suns the light of one star; and all the beauty of creatures, if it were joined, would appear ugliness in comparison with his, nothing else being comparable to it in all creation.
757. The excellence of these gifts in the Resurrection was far beyond the glory of his Transfiguration or that manifested on other occasions of the kind mentioned in this history (Inc. 695; Tran. 140, 388ff.), for on these occasions He received it transitorily and for special purposes, while now He received it in plenitude and forever. Through impassibility his body became invincible to all created power, since no power can ever move or change Him. By subtility the gross and earthly matter was so purified that it could now penetrate other matter like a pure spirit. Accordingly He penetrated through the rocks of the sepulchre without removing or displacing them, just as He had issued forth from the womb of his most blessed Mother. Agility so freed Him from the weight and slowness of matter that it exceeded the agility of the immaterial angels, while He himself could move about more quickly than they, as shown in his apparitions to the Apostles and on other occasions. The sacred wounds, which had disfigured his body, now shone forth from his hands and feet and side so refulgent and brilliant that they added a most entrancing beauty and charm. In all this glory and heavenly adornment the Savior now arose from the grave, and in the presence of the Saints and Patriarchs He promised universal resurrection in their own flesh and body to all men, and that they moreover, as an effect of his own Resurrection, should be similarly glorified. As an earnest and as a pledge of the universal resurrection, the Lord commanded the souls of many saints there present to reunite with their bodies and rise up to immortal life. Immediately this divine command was executed, and their bodies arose, as is mentioned by St. Matthew, in anticipation of this mystery (Mt. 27:52). Among them were St. Anne, St. Joseph and St. Joachim, and others of the ancient Fathers and Patriarchs, who had distinguished themselves in the faith and hope of the Incarnation, and had desired and prayed for it with greater earnestness to the Lord. As a reward for their zeal the resurrection and glory of their bodies was now anticipated.
758. O how powerful and wonderful, how victorious and strong, appeared even now this Lion of Juda, the son of David! None ever woke from sleep so quickly as Christ from death (Ps. 3:6). At his imperious voice the dry and scattered bones of the ancient dead were joined together, and the flesh, which had long ago turned to dust, was united to the bones, renewed their former life, and adorned by the gifts of glory communicated to it by the life-restoring soul. In one instant all these saints gathered around their Savior, more refulgent and brilliant than the sun, pure, transparent, beauteous and agile, fit to follow Him everywhere and by their own good fortune they now confirmed the prophecy of Job, that, in our own flesh and with our own eyes, and not with those of others, we shall see our Redeemer for our consolation (Job 19:26). Of all these mysteries the great Queen of heaven was aware and She participated in them from her retreat in the Cenacle. In the same instant in which the most holy soul of Christ entered and gave life to his body the joy of her immaculate soul, which I mentioned in the foregoing chapter as being restrained and, as it were, withheld, overflowed into her immaculate body. And this overflow was so exquisite in its effects that She was transformed from sorrow to joy, from pain to delight, from grief to ineffable jubilation and rest. It happened that just at this time the Evangelist St. John, as he had done on the previous morning (746), stepped in to visit Her and console Her in her bitter solitude, and thus unexpectedly, in the midst of splendor and glory, met Her whom he had before scarcely recognized on account of her overwhelming sorrow. The Apostle now beheld Her with wonder and deepest reverence and concluded that the Lord had risen, since his blessed Mother was thus transfigured with joy.
759. In this new joy and under the divine influences of her supernatural vision the great Lady began to prepare Herself for the visit of the Lord, which was near at hand. While eliciting acts of praise, and in her canticles and prayers, She immediately felt within Her a new kind of jubilation and celestial delight, reaching far beyond the first joy, and corresponding in a wonderful manner to the sorrows and tribulations She had undergone in the Passion, and this new favor was different and much more exalted than the joys overflowing naturally from her soul into her body. Moreover She perceived within Herself another, third and still more different effect, implying new divine favors. Namely She felt infused into her being the heavenly light heralding the advent of beatific vision, which I will not here explain, since I have descanted on it in the first part (Con. 620). I merely add here that the Queen, on this occasion, received these divine influences more abundantly and in a more exalted degree, for now the Passion of Christ had gone before and She had acquired the merits of this Passion. Hence the consolations from the hands of her divine Son corresponded to the multitude of her sorrows.
760. The blessed Mary being thus prepared, Christ our Savior, arisen and glorious, in the company of all the Saints and Patriarchs, made his appearance. The ever humble Queen prostrated Herself upon the ground and adored her divine Son, and the Lord raised Her up and drew Her to Himself. In this contact, which was more intimate than the contact with the humanity and the wounds of the Savior sought by Magdalen (Jn. 20:17), the Virgin Mother participated in an extraordinary favor which She alone, as exempt from sin, could merit. Although it was not the greatest of the favors She attained on this occasion, yet She could not have received it without failing of her faculties, if She had not been previously strengthened by the angels and by the Lord himself. This favor was that the glorious body of the Son so closely united itself to that of his purest Mother that He penetrated into it, or She into his, as when, for instance, a crystal globe takes up within itself the light of the sun and is saturated with the splendor and beauty of its light. In the same way the body of the most holy Mary entered into that of her divine Son by this heavenly embrace; it was, as it were, the portal of her intimate knowledge concerning the glory of the most holy soul and body of her Lord. As a consequence of these favors, constituting higher and higher degrees of ineffable gifts, the spirit of the Virgin Mother rose to the knowledge of the most hidden sacraments. In the midst of them She heard a voice saying to Her: Friend, go up higher (Lk. 14:10). By the power of these words She was entirely transformed and saw the Divinity clearly and intuitively, wherein She found complete, though only temporary, rest and reward for all her sorrows and labors. Silence alone here is proper, since reason and language are entirely inadequate to comprehend or express what passed in the blessed Mary during this beatific vision, the highest She had until then enjoyed. Let us celebrate this day in wonder and praise, with congratulations and loving and humble thanks for what She then merited for us, and for her exaltation and joy.
761. For some hours the heavenly Princess continued to enjoy the essence of God with her divine Son, participating now in his triumph as She had in his torments. Then by similar degrees She again descended from this vision and found Herself in the end reclining on the right arm of the most sacred humanity and regaled in other ways by the right hand of his Divinity (Cant. 2: 6). She held sweetest converse with her Son concerning the mysteries of his Passion and of his glory. In these conferences She was again inebriated with the wine of love and charity, which now She drank unmeasured from the original fount. All that a mere creature can receive was conferred upon the blessed Mary on this occasion; for, according to our way of conceiving such things, the divine equity wished to compensate the injury (thus I must call it, because I cannot find a more proper word) which a Creature so pure and immaculate had undergone in suffering the sorrows and torments of the Passion. For, as I have mentioned many times before (525, etc.), She suffered the same pains as her Son, and now in this mystery She was inundated with a proportionate joy and delight. (The Venerable Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God: Book III: The Transfixion, Chapter XXVI, as taken from New English Edition of The Mystical City of God.)
Important food for prayer and reflection on this glorious day, this day of days in the liturgical year of the Catholic Church, would you not agree?
May we invoke Our Lady’s help now and at every moment of our lives so that we can enjoy like pleasures at the General Resurrection of the Living and the Dead on the Last Day. The sorrows of this life will pass away as Our Lady’s sorrows passed away upon seeing her Divine Son on this very day, Easter Sunday. We must, however, endure the sorrows of this life to get to the point of our own unending Easter Sunday of glory in Heaven.
Although I know that I sound like the proverbial broken record (or, I suppose nowadays, the frozen DVD or CD), there is nothing that we can experience in this passing, mortal value of tears that is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death and that caused His Most Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart to be pierced through and through with those Seven Swords of Sorrow. Suffering was the means by which we were redeemed on the wood of the Holy Cross by Our Divine Redeemer. Suffering is the path by which we we can save our own souls if we persevere to the point of our dying breaths in states of Sanctifying Grace, praying always for the grace of Final Perseverance and to have at all times a perfect contrition for our sins by means of making a perfect Act of Contrition each and every day of our lives.
May Our Lady, who made Easter possible by her fulfillment of the Father’s will, pray for us that we will truly believe in the miracle of her Divine Son’s Resurrection and thus become proclaim the Alleluia joy of this holy season, making sure that we rely upon her as her Divine Sons’s consecrated slaves to lead us and all of our family and friends to partake of the great unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise. And may our meditation on the mysteries contained in the Glorious Mysteries of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary help us to remember that the Cross of her Divine Son is meant to lead us to the point of our our bodily resurrection on the Last Day and to share in eternal happiness in Heaven.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Our Lord has died for us. He has risen from the dead. A season of celebration is now upon us. We must continue, therefore, to carry our crosses with joy and with gratitude in this life in order to know eternal joy in Heaven made possible by Our Blessed Lord and Saviour’s Easter Victory over the power of sin and eternal death!
We know that there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem because the God-Man got up and walked out on His own power, and that He wants to lead us through His Holy Church to our own empty tombs at the end of time. He is Risen as He said! Alleluia.
As the Easter Sequence reminds us:
|Víctimæ pascháli laudes ímmolent Christiáni.
Agnus rédemit oves: Christus ínnocens Patri reconciliávit peccatóres.
Mors et vita duéllo conflixére mirándo: dux vitæ mórtuus regnat vivus.
Dic nobis, María, quid vidísti in via?
Sepúlcrum Christi vivéntis et glóriam vidi resurgéntis.
Angélicos testes, sudárium et vestes.
Surréxit Christus, spes mea: præcédet vos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexísse a mórtuis vere: tu nobis, victor Rex, miserére. Amen. Allelúja.
|Christians! to the Paschal Victim offer your thankful praises.
The Lamb the sheep redeemeth: Christ, who only is sinless, reconcileth sinners to the Father.
Death and life contended in that conflict stupendous: the Prince of Life, who died, deathless reigneth.
Speak, Mary, declaring what thou sawest wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ who now liveth: and likewise the glory of the Risen.
Bright Angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope is arisen: to Galilee He goeth before you.”
We know that Christ is risen, henceforth ever living: Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia.
A blessed Easter to you all.
The Regina Coeli:
Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia: Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus: Deus qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray: O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.