Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blessed Easter!!!

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!"

I pray you had a blessed Easter Sunday and that the joy of the Risen Christ extends throughout your Easter season!  
It is said that each year on Easter Sunday St. Thomas Aquinas counselled his hearers to congratulate the Holy Mother of God on the Resurrection of her Son.  We imitate this honor when we recite the "Regina Coeli" throughout Eastertide (in place of the Angelus).  You can find the "Regina Coeli" and other Easter prayers here.

"Queen of Heaven, Rejoice.  Alleluia!  For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia! Has risen as He said, alleluia!..."
Rejoice.  Eastertide truly is a season to rejoice, for, as St. Paul relates, our Faith would be in vain had not Christ risen and conquered death, once more opening the gates of heaven for us.  The true joy of Christ's resurrection dwells fully in the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her heart, so recently stabbed with the sorrows of her Son's Passion and Death, now leaps with joy at the sight of Him risen.  It is ancient tradition of the Church that Christ appeared first to His Mother in solitude.

I ponder the meeting between the Blessed Mother and Her Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  The grief of the Mother and the sufferings of the Son, while significant and always a part of Mary and Jesus, now become intertwined with this joyous moment when once again they are reunited.  While I know I cannot begin to grasp the immensity of love and joy experienced and shared in that moment, I am overwhelmed at the mere image I can ponder.

Mary is described beautifully by Fr. Luis de Granada in Book of Prayer and Meditation.  "The star of the morning shines not so lovely as the Mother's eyes shone in that gracious face of hers, the unblemished mirror of divine splendour.  She sees the body of her Son risen and glorious, the disfigurement of His Passion gone, the grace of those divine eyes returned, His previous loveliness restored and increased.  The openings of the wounds which had been sword-thrusts of pain for the Mother-- to see them now as fountains of love; to see the One who had suffered between thieves, attended now by angels and saints...  Then, stricken with anguish, she had not known what to say; now, mute with  joy, she cannot speak."

This joy that Mary experiences is not because her sorrows have been removed; instead her joy stems from the Presence of her risen Son, God.  She is once again with the One she loves, to Whom her entire life has been devoted.  May we strive to imitate Mary this Easter season and throughout our lives.  May we work diligently to hold tight to that joy of our Blessed Mother.  Throughout Lent we experienced various penances and added prayers to improve our spiritual lives and make ourselves ready for Easter, for our Risen Lord.  Yet, now that Lent has ended and the blessed Easter season has begun, we should not abandon these practices.  We should continue to strive to grow in our spiritual lives, to grow daily closer to our Lord; it is in our Lord's presence that we, like our Blessed Mother, find true joy.  No material possession, no success or absence of difficulties provide us with this joy.  Only by remaining continually in the presence of our Blessed Lord will we find and hold fast to the joy of the Easter season.  Let us look to our Lady, let us imitate her devotion and love for God, let us remain at her side, so she can guide us to her Son.  Jesus suffered, died, and rose for us---not for one penitential Lent or one happy Eastertide, but for eternity---that we may gain the everlasting joy found only in union with Him.

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The following ancient sequence is sung or prayed every day from Easter Sunday through the Easter Octave.

Victimae Paschali
laudes immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria,
Quid vidisti in via?

Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes,
sudarium et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos in Galilaeam.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
Tu nobis, victor Rex miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.

The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners
to his Father reconciled.

Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.

Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see upon the way.

The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ's glory as He rose!

The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.

Christ, my hope, has risen:
He goes before you into Galilee.

That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious King, Thy mercy show!
Amen. Alleluia.

God bless!

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