Paschal joy — real and unexplained

“This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us be glad and rejoice!” (Ps 17) says the Office of Easter Sunday. Before His Passion, our Lord Jesus Christ often referred to “His hour”. After His glorious victory over death, we speak of “His day”. This is the day when joy is again complete; the Lenten penance has been lifted, all is new, all is light!

Christ has proved mightily through His terrible Passion and glorious Resurrection that He is God omnipotent. No man could have suffered what Christ suffered for men. Only God could suffer so much without dying a thousand times in the course of it. “I thirst,” He uttered at the moment of expiration on the Cross, so that the scriptures may be fulfilled (Ps 69:21). But some commentators also say that, by these words, Christ expressed His thirst for souls that could be soothed only by the saving water of their baptism. After suffering so deeply and giving Himself up so completely, as only all-powerful God can, He shook off the shackles of death, rose again and opened the gates of Heaven for us for all eternity. Such was His desire for souls.

But that was not enough for God omnipotent. He wanted these mysteries not only to be commemorated as our glorious salvific history, but also to be part of the reality of all the ages to come, here and now. Today, as then, He comes to us via Jerusalem and Golgotha, He comes into lowly basement chapels as well as the awe-inspiring cathedrals; in New York and in persecuted China — wherever Mass is celebrated. “There is no other nation so great,” says the Office of Corpus Christi, “as to have its gods so near as our God is present to us”. Such is His desire for souls. 

And even that was not enough for His omnipotence. He then started His post-Resurrection ministry on earth, forming the Apostles into what they needed to be in order to Christianise the world; to shape dispositions which they had not yet adopted in three years of following Him closely. He responded to betrayal, denial and abandonment at the decisive hour by extending His loving guidance beyond the Cross! Such was His desire for souls. 

And, one must ask, what is our desire like for Him? Are we prepared to unite our life to His death to have life everlasting? The tremendous wounds of His Passion are the glorious scars of His Resurrection. There could not be one without the other. St Thomas could not have put his finger into the wound in Christ’s side if St Longinus had not struck it first with his lance. The Cross is what unites this life to our heavenly homeland. Departing from the way of the Cross, one cannot love or suffer well; neither can one believe well in the risen Lord.

We have beautiful relics from the Resurrection. The holy shroud of Turin, of course, is well known to all. Professor Roberto de Mattei recalls the profound truth revealed to us by the image of the shroud: 

“The holy shroud not only demonstrates to us the truth of Christ’s Passion, of which it records every wound, every suffering suffered between Gethsemane and Calvary, but also offers us impressive proof of the Resurrection of His glorious Body. The scientists who have studied the sacred linen affirm, in fact, that only a mysterious power, a sudden and dazzling radiation could have imprinted the negative image on the cloth; in a word, only the Resurrection from the death of the Man scourged and crucified under Pontius Pilate can explain the mysterious origin of the holy shroud.”

Comment on RadioRomaLibera, Consummatum est: il mistero della Redenzione, 8 April 2023

Exactly matching the shroud, we also have the Holy Face of our risen Lord (Volto Santo) — another holy cloth in Manoppello, Italy — which is believed to have covered the face of our Lord in the tomb. The difference between the two images on these two cloths are that the holy shroud represents a dead figure and the cloth of Manoppello the same figure but alive. There is a growing body of research investigating the linen of Manoppello, but even to this day, the image and the origin of the cloth are not fully explained. 

Likewise, the new batch of unleavened dough (cf. 1 Cor 5) which St Paul invites us to be — visible and true, yet not easy to prove scientifically, because the grace of God infused in His people, whom with desire He had desired (Lk 22:15) to suffer for and redeem at such a high price — is the true source of our Paschal joy.

A very blessed Eastertide to all Digest readers! By Providence, our weekly Digest celebrates a little jubilee this Easter Week. At 100 weeks, we are still young and looking forward to many hundreds more. If you appreciate the Digest, please consider inviting your family and friends to sign up.

“Let us feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth!” (1 Cor 5:8)