True Religious Liberty in the Resurrection

Sorry for the late evening post, I kind of forgot to prepare some posts for the week.

With this being the Octave of Easter, I’ve been thinking a little bit about the Resurrection, the Apostles, and liberty in America today, and I’ve got to say that we’ve got it all wrong.

Yes, we should demand that our politicians be obedient to the Constitution, that our natural right to religious liberty be recognized and respected, that our neighbors seek to value life and marriage and faith.

If only we take back the Senate.

If only we take back the White House.

If only we vote out politicians that destroy marriage.

If only we….

Whether these things happen or not, it doesn’t matter. The tide in our culture has turned against Christianity. It used to bring me down. But guess what, it doesn’t matter if our government, our society, takes away our legal right to practice our faith in Jesus Christ because Jesus has risen from the dead!

Our Lord Jesus conquered death and he promised that we would too, but that only through carrying our cross, through experiencing the persecution from the world that he did. And then the Apostles and the martyrs and the Christians went out and died for their faith in Jesus Christ. They did not have the comfort of legal protections to practice Christianity. It didn’t matter. The civil law does not give us our religion.

And so it is that we must, no matter what the letter of the law says, obey Jesus Christ. We will not buy contraception even if the law says we must. We will not participate in the killing of children even if the law says we must. We will not stop speaking boldly to proclaim the truth of marriage even if the law declares the truth a hate crime. We will serve Christ no matter what the cost. We will gladly pay all our money away in fines for remaining true to our conscience. We will gladly do community service or jail time for speaking out on abortion, on the sanctity of marriage. We will go to the very chairs of death if the civil law and our peers demand it before we give up one iota of our faith in Jesus Christ.

The days when those things happen may not come before the end of my life, or they may, but we shouldn’t fear them, we shouldn’t fret about them, but simply continue to do what God requires of us, speak the truth, carry our crosses, and live with the attitude of Queen Esther and say:

If I perish, I perish.

 

Anticipating Joy

Tonight is the Easter Vigil.

If there is one specific Mass I make it to, it is the Easter Vigil. Midnight Christmas Mass? Who needs it, I’ll go at 10:00. Chrism Mass? Boooo-ring. But Easter Vigil?!?! There is a Mass that is a must!

Every year since 2009, the Easter Vigil has been my Easter Mass of choice, and it will be until I die. The beauty of experiencing the first celebration of the Resurrection. Lighting the fire outside the church. Walking into the dark with a candle. Listening to the story of salvation through so many readings and psalms with the candle light flickering on the walls as if in a cave, a tomb.

And then! The Gloria! Its been over 40 days since we’ve sang Glory! 40 days since uttering Alleluia! The lights burst on, the bells chime out in the night, and glory of God is proclaimed, and the chill runs down your spine. You are a part of this. You are a member in the mystical body of Christ. You are now a character in this great story!

The story of God’s victory over sin and death are proclaimed. The new members of God’s Church are baptized, confirmed and taste the goodness of the Lord for the first time. The memories of my own first time flood back. My first Easter Vigil becomes real in my senses. The joy. The laughter (being Megan’s fiance for about 1.37 seconds–lol). The raw grace of God.

There is so much to be thankful for in life. The time for mourning is over. The time for hope and joy has come and is being fulfilled in this moment, in us, by Jesus Christ!

Joyous Saturday

After writing the previous post, I learned that in the Eastern tradition, today is marked with liturgical joy more so than in the west.  In the west, solemnity and solitude often mark the liturgical practices, but in the west, the joy of the Christ’s preaching to the spirits is celebrated. In some communities, the entirety of the Acts of the Apostles, which is a book of joy and proclamation of the kingdom, is read aloud.

There are truly different great traditions and emphases on both sides of the schism between the east and the west and we should pray for the reunion of these two great “lungs” of faith so that we may all fully and joyfully benefit from the rich treasures of both!

Death

Holy Saturday.

Great Sabbath.

Black Saturday.

Whatever you call it, today, the day between Good Friday and Easter is a commemoration of Jesus dead and lying in the tomb. Everything the Church does today signifies death. If you walked into a church you would see that the chancel (the area around the altar and tabernacle) are stripped bare. You will notice that the Sacraments are severely limited, that except for under very grave circumstances, the Mass and the other life-giving Sacraments are withheld. The Blessed Mother is crowned with the title of Our Lady of Solitude today, as well. Empty. Lonely. Barren. Dark. Death.

Jesus, our God, lies dead in the tomb. Can we expect or hope for a better end for ourselves? No. If God succumbed to death, we shall as well.

But death is not all that it seems to be today. Jesus lay in the tomb, yes, but he was not resting, he was not dormant. He descended to hell and preached to the spirits there! There is work to be done even in death. Can we expect or hope for anything less for ourselves? No. In death there is much to be accomplished. For some it will involve allowing the good work which God began in us to be completed, to be fully and finally purified of our sin. For others it will involve praying on the behalf of others and accomplishing various tasks which God has set for those he loves.

And so, from the outside, death looks bleak, lonely, barren, sorrowful, from the inside, death is a tree of fruit now that God himself has taken part in it. For what can God touch without becoming a tool of his goodness and mercy?

Death is an incredible opportunity redeemed by divine purpose. Every moment in our faith journey, in this life, or in death, or in the next life is utilized by God for the good of our souls and for the benefit of others.

Maundy Thursday

The Institution of the Eucharist.

The words of Jesus Christ are clear in the testimonials of the Gospels.

The interpretation of the Church is clear in the letters of St. Paul.

The beliefs of the first Christians are clear in the writings of the fathers.

Jesus Christ is present physically, substantially under the guise of bread and wine.

Holy Monday

Son behold your mother.

Later this week as we commemorate the work of Jesus on the Cross, we will contemplate these words: son, behold your mother.

When John contemplated those words he was moved to take Mary into his own home.

Will we be moved this week to take Mary into our own homes?

mary_mother

Si Deus nobiscum, quis contra nos?

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