Si Consurrexistis Cum Christo (3)

From Christ in His Mysteries (1919)

You will perhaps now ask how we can strengthen this Paschal grace within us. 

First of all by contemplating the mystery with great faith. See how when Christ Jesus, on appearing to His disciples, bids Thomas, the incredulous apostle, put His finger in the marks of His Wounds which He keeps, what does He say to him? “Be not faithless, but believing.” And when the apostle adores Him as his God, Our Lord adds, Beati qui non viderunt et crediderunt — “Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” (Jn 20:27–29)

Faith places us in contact with Christ; if we contemplate this mystery with faith, Christ produces in us the grace which He gave to His disciples when, as their Risen Lord, He appeared to them. Jesus lives in our souls; and ever living, He increasingly acts in us, according to the degree of our faith and in accordance with the grace proper to each of His mysteries. It is related in the life of St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi that one Easter Day, when she was at table in the refectory, her countenance reflected such joy that a novice who was serving her could not refrain from asking her the reason. “It is the beauty of my Jesus,” she replied, “which makes me so joyful; I see Him now in the heart of each one of my sisters.” “Under what form?” asked the novice again. “I see Him in them all risen and glorious as the Church brings Him before us today,” answered the saint.

It is above all by Sacramental Communion that we now assimilate the fruits of this mystery. 

What, indeed, do we receive in the Eucharist? We receive Christ, the Body and Blood of Christ. But if Communion supposes the immolation of Calvary and that of the Altar which reproduces it, it is however the glorified Flesh of the Saviour wherewith we communicate. We receive Christ such as He is now, that is to say glorified in the highest heavens and possessing, in its fullest expansion, the glory of His Resurrection.

He Whom we thus really receive is the very Fount of holiness. He cannot fail to give us a share in the grace of His “holy” Resurrection; here, as in all things, it is of His fulness that we are all to receive.

Still in our days, Christ, ever living, repeats to each soul the words that He said to His disciples when, at the time of the Pasch, He was about to institute His Sacrament of love: “With desire, I have desired to eat this pasch with you.” (Lk 22:15) Christ Jesus desires to effect in us the mystery of His Resurrection: He lives entirely for His Father above all that is earthly; He wills, for our joy, to draw us with Him into this divine current. If, after having received Him in Communion, we leave Him full power to act, He will give to our life, by the inspirations of His Spirit, that steadfast orientation towards the Father in which all holiness is summed up; so all our thoughts, all our aspirations, all our activity will refer to the glory of our Father in heaven.

It is You, O divine risen Lord, Who come to me; You Who after having expiated sin by Your sufferings, have vanquished death by Your triumph, Who, henceforward glorious, live only for Your Father. Come to me “to destroy the works of the devil,” and to destroy sin and my infidelities, come to me to detach me more from all that is not You; come to make me a partaker of that superabundant perfect life which now overflows from Your sacred humanity; I will then sing, with You, a hymn of praise to Your Father Who upon this day has crowned You, as our Captain and our Head, with glory and honour!

These aspirations are expressed in one of the collects where the Church sums up, after the Communion, the graces which she implores of God for her children. “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that being purified from the stains of our past guilt, the participation in Thy august Sacrament may transform us into a new creature.” (Postcommunion for Easter Wednesday)

The Church wills that this grace should remain in us, even when communion is over, even when the Paschal solemnities shall have come to an end. “Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the virtue of the Paschal mystery may remain in our souls.” (Postcommunion for Easter Tuesday) It is a permanent grace which gives us the power, according to the expression of St Paul, of being “renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16), of increasing the life of Christ within us by bringing us to a closer and closer resemblance to the glorious traits of our divine Model.

In indicating the double aspect of the mystery of holiness that the Resurrection of Jesus ought to produce within our hearts, we have not exhausted the riches of the Paschal grace.

God is so magnificent in what He does for His Christ, that He wills that the mystery of His Son’s Resurrection should extend not only to our souls but also to our bodies. We too shall rise again. That is a dogma of faith. We shall rise corporally, like Christ, with Christ. Could it be otherwise? 

Christ, as I have often said, is our Head; we form with Him a mystical body. If Christ is risen — and He is risen in His human nature — it is necessary that we, His members, should share in the same glory. For it is not only in our soul, it is likewise in our body, it is in our whole being that we are members of Christ. The most intimate union binds us to Jesus. If then He is risen glorious, the faithful who, by grace, make part of His mystical body, will be united with Him even in His Resurrection. 

Hear what St Paul says on this subject: “Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep”; He represents the first fruits of a harvest; after Him, the rest of the harvest is to follow. “By a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:20–22) God, he says more energetically still, “has raised us up together … through Jesus Christ” — conresuscitavit nos … in Christo Jesu. (Eph 2:6) How is this? It is that, by faith and grace, we are the living members of Christ, we share in His states, we are one with Him. And as grace is the principle of our glory, those who are, by grace, already saved in hope, are already also, in principle, risen in Christ.

This is our faith and our hope.

But now “our life is hidden with Christ in God”; we now live without grace producing those effects of light and splendour which will have their fruition in glory; even as Christ, before His Resurrection, held back the glorious radiance of His Divinity and only allowed a reflection of it to be seen by the three disciples on the day of the Transfiguration on Thabor. Our inner life here below is only known to God; it is hidden from the eyes of men. Moreover, if we try to reproduce in our souls, by our spiritual liberty, the characteristics of the Risen Life of Jesus, it is a labour which is still wrought in a flesh wounded by sin, subject to the infirmities of time; we shall only attain this holy liberty at the cost of a struggle incessantly renewed and faithfully sustained. We too must suffer so as to enter into glory, as Christ said of Himself to the disciples of Emmaus, on the very day of His Resurrection, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?”(Lk 24:26) “We are the sons of God,” says the apostle, “and if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ; yet so if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Rom 8:17)

May these thoughts of heaven sustain us during the days we have yet to pass here below. Yes, the time will come when there shall be no more mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow; God Himself will wipe away the tears of His servants (Apoc 21:4) become the co-heirs of His Son; He will make them sit down at the eternal feast which He has prepared to celebrate the triumph of Jesus and of those whose Elder Brother Jesus is. 

If, each year, we are faithful in sharing in Christ’s sufferings during Lent and Holy Week, each year, too, the celebration of Easter, the contemplation of the glory of Jesus triumphant over death, makes us participate more fruitfully and more abundantly in the state of our risen Lord; it increases our detachment from all that is not God, and, by grace, faith and love, it makes the divine life grow within us. At the same time, it enlivens our hope: for, says St Paul, when at the last day Christ, Who is our Life and our Head, shall appear, then we also, because we share in His life, “shall appear with Him in glory”: Cum Christus apparuerit vita vestra, tunc et vos apparebitis cum ipso in gloria. (Col 3:4)

This hope fills us with joy, and it is because the mystery of Easter, being a mystery of life, strengthens our hope, that it is also supereminently a mystery of joy.

The Church shows this by multiplying, throughout Paschal time, the Alleluia — “Praise God” — the cry of gladness and felicity borrowed from the liturgy of Heaven. She had banished it during Lent in order to manifest her sadness and communicate in the sufferings of her Bridegroom. Now that Christ is risen, she rejoices with Him; she takes up again, with new fervour, this joyous acclamation wherein is summed up all the ardour of her feelings.

Never let us forget that we make only one with Christ Jesus. His triumph is ours; His glory is the principle of our joy. With the Church our Mother, let us, too, often repeat the Alleluia so as to manifest our joy to Christ in seeing Him triumphant over death, and to thank the Father for the glory that He gives to His Son. The Alleluia that the Church unweariedly repeats, during the fifty days of the Paschal season, is like the ever-renewed echo of that prayer with which she ends Easter week: “Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, ever to rejoice through these Paschal mysteries; that the continual work of our regeneration may ensure to us perpetual joy in heaven.” (Secret for Easter Saturday)