Easter has been called many things by hundreds of eloquent theologians and scholars. It is the culmination of all that we have seen and heard throughout Lent and the Triduum. It is the Good News. It is the feast of feasts as Fathers called it.
Rising to a new life is something that also happens to each of us in our own way. God calls each of us to a renewed life in Him during Lent and particularly during the Sacred Triduum. By renewing our baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil, we are washing away those sins and failings that we have carried with us for an entire year. Even those sins absolved in the Sacrament of Penance are washed away as we renew our relationship to the Lord.
In the Orthodox and Eastern Rites of the Church, baptism is a triple immersion. The priest holds the child and plunges it into the water three times. Each time he pronounces those sacred words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Three times the child is immersed in the saving waters of baptism and three times it arises out of the water. The last time, the child becomes a child of God Himself.
By being completely immersed in the water, the child is dying. By rising out of it, the child is rising with the Risen Lord. Indeed, the great symbolism of baptism is most noticeable precisely because it is so closely linked to Our Lord’s Resurrection. With Him, we are crucified and buried. Yet we also rise with Him as well.
During the Sacrament of Holy Orders and when religious make their final vows, there is also a moment that is just as climactic. The religious or priest prostrates in front of the altar while the choir chants the Litany of Saints. Sometimes, the religious or priest is covered with a shroud. Again, the symbolism is clear. The old man is dying and rising anew. The priest is no longer the person that he once was, but a new man. The novice has cast away her old self and become a new woman in Christ. Again, they were crucified with Christ and buried with Him. Again, they rose from the dead.
In each of the Sacraments, we are constantly reliving the reality of the Resurrection. Although we may not blatantly see it, the reality is always there in plain sight. In the confessional, we kneel and confess our sins to the priest. Yet we emerge from that same confessional as new people that have been cleansed from the sores and ills of our many sins. The process, of course, is repeated ad infinitum to the ends of the ages.
Yet the reality of the Resurrection goes much deeper than even the Sacraments themselves. In a certain way, our own lives as Catholics are living proof of the Lord’s Resurrection. By the way that we act towards others and the things that we do or say, we are showing those around us Who we represent and what He means to us. In our joy, they see the joy of His Resurrection from the dead. In our sufferings and sorrows, they see Him crucified and buried. We are not merely ambassadors for Christ, as St. Paul writes so eloquently, but we are also mirrors of Him because we were made in His image.
The reality of the Resurrection is so tremendous and so life-giving that it should dominate our thoughts throughout the year. It is not just at Easter or the forty days ’til Ascension Thursday on which we should meditate on this feast day, but our entire lives.
Let us think and meditate about what the reality of the Resurrection is and what it means to us.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!