c. 33 A.D.
Liturgical Color: White
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples… ~Excerpt from The Exsultet
Today’s glorious solemnity is the ultimate cause of all joy, fulfillment, happiness, and glory. If Jesus only died on the Cross, destroying death, something would be missing—the restoration of life into a transformed and glorified living. Easter is not only about the forgiveness of sins, it’s about the temporal and eternal glorification of every human soul who dies and rises with Christ. When we focus upon the Gospel and consider the many lessons Jesus taught and the example He set, the Cross is often considered the difficult message and Easter the easy message. But is it?
The message of the Cross, as presented to us through both Jesus’ teachings and His lived example, is certainly challenging. Each one of us is called to the same depth of selfless surrender of our lives to the Father’s will. We must each die completely to ourselves, be purified from every sin and every attachment to sin, from every bad habit and every worldly thought, and from everything that is not God and God alone. When our calling to die with Christ and to embrace His Cross is clearly understood, as it has been by the saints, it is likely that Christians become overwhelmed at the seemingly daunting and impossible task of dying in and with Christ.
When it comes to the Resurrection, one might be tempted to say that it is easy to accept the message it presents. New life in Christ, the fullness of joy, complete transformation, and eternal beatitude in Heaven—these initially appear easy to embrace. However, the challenge that the profound reality of Easter presents to us is that we can be certain that our current understanding of what it means to share in the Resurrection of Christ is but the faintest shadow of the reality. In truth, very few people in this life have come close to understanding the glory to which we are called on account of the Resurrection. Saints Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Sienna, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, to name a few, are among those who penetrated the mystery of Easter while still here on earth. They achieved this spiritual knowledge only by fully dying with Christ through a life of profound prayer, penance, and charity that completely united their souls to the Most Holy Trinity.
As we celebrate Easter, it’s important to know that we do not yet know all that is promised to us by the Resurrection of Christ. If we can at least know that, then our spiritual appetites will make us hungry to know. Too often, Christians go through life satisfied with the most basic understanding of the Gospel. We know that God became man, lived His life, gathered followers, taught and performed miracles, died on the Cross, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we have hope in His promise that if we remain in His grace, then we will share in Heaven after we die. But this is an exceptionally incomplete view of the full reality that has been comprehended in this life by the saints. It is their understanding we must seek with every power of our souls.
What does it mean to share in the new life of Christ? What does it mean to share in the glory of the Resurrection? What will Heaven be like for those who enter into the highest realms of glory in this life, compared to those who only do the basics? What will the New Heavens and the New Earth be like when Jesus returns in all His glory for the Final Judgment? If these are questions you have never deeply pondered and probed, then know that the answers that await you are more glorious than you could ever imagine. In other words, if you were to sit quietly and spend all day trying to imagine the best and most glorious life, trying to use your mind to draw a picture of the happiness and full joy of Heaven, you can be certain that you could never even come close to imagining the reality. That humble fact ought not discourage you; it should fill your conscience with a desire to know what you do not know. That is the first step.
A deep and vast spiritual comprehension of the joy of sharing fully in the Resurrection of Christ can only be given to us by a direct infusion of grace by God Himself. When a soul receives this infused knowledge, they become so overwhelmed with wonder and awe that they realize that committing even the smallest sin is absolute foolishness and is the path to the loss of everything. They realize that if they were to gain everything this world has to offer—every comfort, wealth, power, and prestige—they would be absolutely miserable compared to the person who shares fully in the Resurrection. They realize that the only thing worth anything is the complete abandonment of one’s life to the will of God, a willingness to suffer anything and everything for Christ, to serve and not be served, to forgive everyone completely, to love with every fiber of their being, and to continuously remain in a state of prayerful recollection with God.
If living such a life seems impossible, it’s not. It only seems that way when we fail to grasp the prize that awaits those who strive for the perfection of divine union. The Easter message and mystery is not just about being good and happy. It’s not just about trusting in the hope of Heaven after we die. The fullness of the message and mystery of Easter can only be understood if we begin the long and difficult journey toward divine union. Only those who begin it in haste have a chance of completing it. Begin it today by acknowledging that there is so much that you do not know. There is so much that God is calling you to and wants to bestow upon you. There is more joy in the Resurrection of Christ than anything else in life. Don’t aim for the lowly and passing things of life—aim for the highest heights of glory. Seek to understand the Resurrection this Easter so that you will be able to share more fully in the higher grades of glory that God wants to bestow upon you.
My Resurrected Lord, the glory to which You have called me is beyond my natural capacity to comprehend. I could never imagine what awaits those who fully, and without reserve, surrender their lives to You and obey every aspect of the Father’s will. Please fill me with a realization that there is so much more that I do not know. Inflame my soul with a desire to quench that longing to know You more so as to share more fully in the glories of the Resurrection while here on earth and forever in Heaven. Jesus, I trust in You.
Rosary – Glorious Mysteries (with Scripture)
Other Prayers for the Octave of Easter: