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A Leaven In The World… Easter: The Power Of God’s Life Over Death

April 8, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

During this unprecedented Lent of 2020 we were joined by the whole world in giving up more than we had planned. Some gave up their lives fighting for the well-being of others. Many succumbed to the novel threat, a new plague for which we had no defense, it seemed, but to shut down the economy and keep everyone at home as much as possible.
The same doctors who fought HIV but never mentioned behaviors as a way to combat that invisible enemy of human life are now telling us that in this case it is behavior modification that will halt the spread of the virus. I suppose COVID19 is a less political disease because its attack is not limited to a well-funded, elite, and exclusive lobby based upon a particular kind of sinful sexual behavior.
But the pandemic is proving deadly, making it like the flu because it is opportunistic in attacking especially those who already suffer respiratory ailments, are elderly, or under treatment for cancer, for example.
Most of us have been exposed to the superabundant information on the means of “halting the spread” and “flattening the curve.” Some hold out for the whole thing to be a hoax. But U.S. deaths at this count top 4,000.
I counsel prudence, but mostly want to get our people together and back to Mass. It won’t happen at Easter this year. Churches may now be effectively shuttered, at least for public Mass, until May.
Let us pray that our catechumens and candidates will be able to receive the sacraments at Pentecost as is currently the hope.
“More sparing therefore let us make, the words we use, the food we take.”
In Lent it is hoped that we would intensify our spiritual sustenance of the Eucharist as we use earthly things with greater detachment. Many people are now sitting at home surrounded by mountains of toilet paper. The stores cannot keep certain paper products and cleaning supplies in stock and have imposed rationing.
The world will demand we practice evangelical virtue when we fail ourselves to listen to reason and faith.
Those words from a Lent hymn in the Breviarium Romanum can help us with the lesson of “longing for the Fatherland,” the home of our true Father in Heaven during this time of upheaval and uncertainty on Earth.
Our lives, after all, are a long Lent, marked by sufferings and diseases of various kinds, all conferring a foretaste of death.
The purpose of Lent every year is to once again inexorably lead us back to Easter, back to the root and ground of the entire Christian enterprise: the Person of the Risen Christ. One line from T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece The Four Quartets comes to mind: “In my end is my beginning.” The end, the telos of Lent, is our Christian beginning: the power of God over sin and death in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Most Catholics this year will celebrate the Resurrection by means of a spiritual Communion, perhaps while watching the liturgical celebrations at a distance through live-streaming on social media. We will, as many parishes are doing, offer this opportunity as we have been doing on a daily basis.
Christ is, however, not a prisoner of the tabernacle nor of the Mass. No more than He was a prisoner of the tomb. The sacraments are the ordinary means entrusted to the Church to unleash His all-powerful grace to save us from sin.
But they are not the only means. Easter unleashed the full power of God, both ordinary and extraordinary. All of that power to save, greater than which cannot be imagined, overcoming every spiritual threat to man’s salvation comes now through the Church.
We must act in faith on what we profess of faith: that God is omnipotent and that Christ cannot be bound by worldly limits of any kind. This is the truth of the empty tomb discovered by Peter and the others on that first Easter morning.
The Easter proclamation “Christ is risen” is at the same time the announcement of our own victory over death, and all that threatens to separate us however prematurely from this “mortal coil.”
We long throughout life for the heavenly Fatherland, where there is no longer any fear, deprivation, or disease. In Heaven, there is no hoarding, for all our needs are forever met without any effort on our part. We will be fulfilled in being perfectly loved, knowing and seeing God face to face.
We have had to give up some things we’ve never thought of giving up before in the season of Lent with the desire to prepare well for the joy of Easter:
Some of us have perhaps washed our hands more than we usually were in the habit of doing. Some of us have learned to habituate ourselves to more silence and quiet time, as we’ve also been asked to avoid congregating. We’ve been asked to social distance ourselves, giving up the community life at the parish which is so important to all of us.
All the deprivation we experience in this world, whether chosen or imposed by the health emergency in which we now find ourselves, can redound to good. This is so if we take advantage of it to increase our longing for, and to deepen our foretaste of, our heavenly homeland.
When our sacramental practice is restored, will we reject the deadly contagion of sin by scrubbing off sin more frequently in Confession? Will we practice more regular social distancing from the occasions of sin? Will we seek quiet time away from work and distraction for more prayer and conversation with God?
This is what the regular daily celebration of God’s Easter grace looks like.
The power of God over death begins with the forgiveness of sins, a “virus” that threatens our human vulnerability, liable to eternal separation from God as we are without His help.
The joy of Easter arises from the unleashing of God’s supernatural life, now available in Christ to all of humanity. And as we long to receive once again His true and real Easter Presence in the Holy Eucharist, and to pray the Holy Mass together which brings Him thus to us, we remain faithful.
Spiritual Communion presumes sacramental Communion, a perfect act of Contrition presumes reception of Confession as soon as possible. All of our devotions and prayers keep us rooted in the true and Catholic faith.
And thus we hope and rejoice. Thus in our end will be our beginning.
Happy Easter. Christ is risen: Alleluia!
Thank you for reading and praised be the Risen Christ, now and forever.

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