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March 27, 2005

I Arose, and Am Still With You, Alleluia!

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Resurrexi, et adhunc 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)

The 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 after the stone that had sealed the tomb in which His lifeless Body had spent forty hours had been rolled back. The soldiers were asleep when the earthquake occurred and the stone was rolled back. 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 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, then every aspect of our daily lives must revolve around cooperating with the graces He won for us on Calvary 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 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 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 Peter, the pope.

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 blood 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 Jesus Christ, which is why our Godparents were given a white baptismal gown to place on us. 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 in 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.

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 consecrated to saves to lead us and all of our family and friends to partake of the great unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Our Lord has died for us. He has risen from the dead. A season of celebration is now upon us. 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. Alleluia.

As the Easter Sequence reminds us:

Victimae paschalis laudes immolent Christiani.                                          The paschal victim, let Christians praise.

Agnus redemit oves,                                                                                     The Lamb, hath ransomed the sheep,

Christus innocens Patri reconciliavet peccatores.                                       To the Father hath the sinless Christ sinners reconciled.

Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando,                                                       Death clashed with life in wondrous strife,

dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.                                                                 The prince of life who died, now living reigneth.

Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?                                                            The prince of life who died, now living reigneth.

Sepulcrum Christi viventis, et gloriam vidi resurgentis                               "The tomb of the living Christ I saw, and the glory of his rising

Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.                                                            "The Angel witnesses, the napkin, the garments.

Surrexit Christus spes mea, praecedet suos in Galilaeam.                           "Christ, my hope, has risen : to Galilee He will go before you."

Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere,                                                       Christ, we know, from the dead hath risen truly,

tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.                                                                       Thou, O Victor King, on us have mercy.

Amen. Alleluia.                                                                                              Amen. Alleluia.

A blessed Easter to you all.

An Afterword

We maintain our prayers for Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo as she undergoes her own passion during the Easter Triduum. Large numbers of people are surrounding her with love outside of Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida. This victim-soul is not dying alone. She has the support of countless numbers of people around the world, both those who are physically present in Florida and the rest of us who are remembering her in our prayers, especially before the Most Blessed Sacrament (when Our Lord returns to tabernacles during the Easter Vigil Mass) and in Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary.

There is no need to repeat the many points that have been stated in my past articles. It has come to my attention, however, that some Catholics are taking issue with a condemnation of Mrs. Schiavo's being starved and dehydrated to death under cover of law. There is a simple way to respond to these people: You are wrong. Period. Basic Catholic moral theology states that one can never take any action which has as its only end the death of an innocent human being. Mrs. Schiavo was no more near death than any one of us prior to the withdrawal of her feeding and hydration tubes on the Feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady, Friday of Passion Week, March 18, 2005. She is nearing the point of death now because a positive act has been committed to deny her nutrition and hydration. Pope John Paul II did not invent a new teaching when he stated on March 20, 2004, that the administration of food and water is ordinary care no matter how they are delivered. He was merely reiterating the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law.

Some have evidently maintained that it is better to let Mrs. Schiavo die so as to know her reward in Heaven. If Mrs. Schiavo had been on a respirator, fine. A respirator is a machine that keeps an involuntary function of the body going. The removal of a respirator may or may not result in the immediate death of a patient. If a patient dies following the removal of a respirator it is because the body was unable to perform an involuntary function on its own. Eating and drinking are voluntary activities that are necessary to sustain life and for which human beings come into the world totally dependent upon other human beings. It may be the case that we wind up our lives for years, perhaps even decades, being dependent upon others to nourish and hydrate us. We do not have license to take any action to kill people solely because they are dependent upon others for nourishment and hydration.

Well, aren't we then delaying Mrs. Schiavo's repose in the glory of the Beatific Vision? No. God determines when an innocent human being is to die, not man, not man's civil institutions of governance.

Well, what is the purpose of "keeping" Mrs. Schiavo alive in her disabled state? Mrs. Schiavo has been no more "kept alive" prior to the imposition of the death sentence she is suffering under as this is being written than you or I are being "kept alive" when we eat and drink. Mrs. Schiavo's remaining on earth while incapacitated should have been seen by her faithless husband as the means by which he could better get to Heaven. God had fashioned from all eternity the perfect cross for him to carry in cooperation with the graces won for us by the shedding of His own Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross. There is no time limit designated by which a person can say legitimately, "I've given enough." Mrs. Schiavo's incapacitation--and the incapacitation of all human beings in like circumstances--is an invitation to give the love to others that we would give to Our Himself. "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, that you do unto Me." Those who attend faithfully to the needs of the disabled and the infirmed and the dependent are winning for themselves merit here on earth that they can give away freely to Our Lady' Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as her consecrated slaves.

There were never any "decisions" to be made in the case of Mrs. Terri Schindler-Schiavo, only the Fifth Commandment to be observed faithfully and the precepts of the Corporal Works of Mercy to be fulfilled freely and without ever counting the cost. Some protest that Terri Schindler-Schiavo is being killed in the name of "getting her home to Heaven." What perversity. Why don't we all simply starve and dehydrate ourselves to death so as to avoid the crosses that are involved with our daily lives? We are called to lift high the Cross always and count as our gain that we are privileged to serve others as we would serve Our Lord Himself.

There is nothing to debate. There is nothing to discuss. There is nothing to decide. Ever. This is black and white. God's truth is always black and white. This not a matter of keeping a person alive "at all costs." This is not a matter of a ninety year old person deciding whether to undergo chemotherapy or a eighty year old person deciding to have septuple bypass surgery. This is a matter of providing the basic needs of food and water to a dependent human being for as long as God wills to keep her alive, seeing in that our own path home to Heaven with the victim-soul who serves as a source of grace for us to see in him or her the very face of Christ Himself.

We continue our prayers for Terri Schindler-Schiavo and for the Schindler family.

Finally, today, March 27, 2005, Easter Sunday, is our dear, dear daughter's third birthday. Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey will hear Holy Mass at the Easter Vigil offered by Father Lawrence Smith at Our Lady Help of Christians in Garden Grove, California. She will hear Easter Sunday Mass offered by Father Paul Sretenovic within twelve hours after the conclusion of the Easter Vigil Mass. Her wonderful mother, whose love and devotion I am totally unworthy of, has done such a glorious job of helping Lucy to learn the Faith in these first three years of her life. Although she suffers quite decidedly from the vestigial after-effects of Original Sin, Lucy loves the Faith. She wanted to say a Hail Mary for some people who were immodestly dressed at a park in California today. She concluded her "Hail Mary" by saying, "Dear Blessed Mother, help these immodest people get to Heaven as Catholics." Please say a Hail Mary for our Lucy Mary Norma Droleskey. Thank you.



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