We are an Easter people
Easy to say when all is light, love and happiness. But how about when it feels like all is lost?.
Or when everywhere we look, we see only darkness. Not just absence of light but a soul-crushing darkness that functions like a magnet for our kids, spouse, ourselves?
Isn’t it naive, pollyannaish—even foolish to say we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song, in the midst of threats of new pandemics, nuclear wars and economic collapse?
Sure it is. St. Paul preaches, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
With just a little perspective we understand that humans have always lived amidst uncertainty, even chaos: precisely why St. Augustine preached it. St. Augustine lived in the fourth century amidst the collapse of the Roman Empire. The saint was wholly familiar with a life of sin, for the first third of his life, he lived in sin.
A couple of thousand years later, Pope John Paul ll quoted St. Augustine after a noon-time Mass in Australia. Asking those present to pray the Angelus with him, he explained that the Angelus takes its name from the angel’s greeting to Mary: “Hail, full of grace.” And he declared that joy is indeed the Christian message. We believe, the pope continued, in a God who “created us to enjoy human Happiness.”
It’s worth repeating isn’t it? We Are An Easter People and Alleluia is Our Cry
Joy is the Christian message.
We believe in a God who created us to enjoy human happiness.
Five years before, this Pope had been nearly killed by an assassin.
His early life was one of intense sacrifice and loss. And yet he preaches:
“We are meant to have our human joys: the joy of living, the joy of love and friendship, the joy of work well done. We who are Christians have a further cause for joy: like Jesus, we know that we are loved by God our Father. This love transforms our lives and fills us with joy…
We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!�?. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the “fundamental duty of love of neighbour, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy�?. We realize that joy is demanding; it demands unselfishness; it demands a readiness to say with Mary: “Be it done unto me according to thy word�?.
Mostly, I think, happiness is like love, a decision. Similar to the one a Christian Texas woman named Katherine Lee made during an conversation on an airplane. Lee wrote that the man seated next to her exuded success, confidence and poise. Trained as a life coach, Lee continued engaging the man after he disclosed that he was the CEO of a top pornographic company.
Aware that he’d seen the Christian book she was reading, Lee maintained her serenity. Instead of the judgement he expected, she expressed curiosity. Then listened his replies. Followed by calmly asking questions like, “Do you think about the women?” “About what happens to them after they’re used up?”
Lee went home and began the Pure Hope Foundation. A rescue center for survivors of sex trafficking. I know only this bare outline of what must be a complex story but Lee’s reaction to a pornographer exemplifies grace and compassion. choices we are given with each moment of the time we have. Take just a moment to listen. And think about donating.
The Gospel of the devil
is what St. Padre Pio called 20th century newspapers. I’ve segued into the news because the damage a news addiction can do to our peace of mind is incalculable. Padre Pio made his statement decades ago, long before the media took control of our living rooms, families and psyches.
During Holy Week in Houston, a twenty-nine-year old priest heard over 1100 confessions—sixty-eight hours of confessions. “Last week, I heard 1167 confessions. Do I care about numbers? Not really. Do I care about the salvation of souls? Oh yeah. That’s all I care about. And each confession was a soul that walked in with sin, then walked out a new creation,�? Father David Michael said.
“1167 beautiful moments of grace, and the only witnesses were the angels… and me.”
These kinds of things aren’t reported on all the news you need to know. Instead, we’re fed its primary commodity: fear. What happens when we]re filled with fear?
Our joy disappears, stolen by satan, the author of joylessness.
Keep this in mind: Joy is the only real enemy to Satan! Who understood this better than J.R.R. Tolkien who went so far as to invent an expression that attempts to capture the invincibility of joy:
I coined the word “eucatastrophe�?: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears. It produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth; your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.
This is Satan’s real enemy: Take it Seriously
We Christians cannot afford that loss. These ticking minutes of our lives are too momentous, too packed with opportunity.
Opportunity for what? We Are An Easter People and Alleluia is Our Cry
Taking the lid off the dynamite of our faith
Bishop Robert Barron recently completed an evangelical trip to Great Britain. His thirty-five minute address, The Christian Contribution to the Public Conversation, to the British Parliament is, in a word, riveting.
He begins by discussing the shy, diminutive Hindu man who arrived at Oxford in 1888. That man was, of course, Mahatma Ghandi. Introduced to the Bible by fellow student, Ghandi is electrified by the New Testament.
Especially Matthew, Chapters six, seven and eight: The Beatitudes.
But we’re no Catholic Bishop
with tons of theological background and an army of staff.
Right, we’re not.
We’re ordinary men and women of faith. Christian, Catholic and maybe one we can’t name.
And on our own we can do nothing.
But through our Baptism, we are marked forever.
….When baptized, each of us is left with an indelible spiritual mark. “No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated. Through the sacrament, the Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of eternal life…Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.”
Baptism: His and Ours.