Last week, we contemplated the separation of
our Lord's body and soul in death; the former was laid away in
the tomb, the latter descended, as we saw, into Limbo. Today
that same body and soul are reunited, and our Lord issues
triumphantly from the tomb. The Gospel tells us how the holy
women were on their way to anoint the body of Christ, and how,
as they approached the grave, they found the great stone rolled
away, the tomb empty, and an angel there to announce to them
that the Lord had risen.
I. "The third day he arose again from the dead." I. The
meaning of this Article of the Creed is that after Christ's death
His soul and body were reunited. He returned to life, and rose
from the tomb. 2. The difference between our Lord's resurrection
and that of others is, that Christ raised Himself by His own
power, and that He was the first who rose to die no more.
3. Christ rose on the third day, inasmuch as He was in the tomb
on Friday, Saturday, and a part of Sunday. He did not rise
immediately after being buried, in order to prove His humanity;
He did not defer His resurrection to the end of the world, when
all will rise, in order to prove His Divinity. 4. The great importance
of the resurrection is in this, that Christ foretold it as
the crowning miracle of His life, and the Apostles consequently
preached it as the greatest proof of the Saviour's Divinity and
the truth of His teaching.
II. The reasons of Christ's resurrection. 1. He rose for
His own exaltation: 2. to strengthen our faith; 3. to sustain
and nourish our hope; 4. to complete the work of our redemption.
III. The blessings of Christ's resurrection. I. His resurrection
is the cause and model of our own future bodily resurrection.
2. Christ's resurrection is also the cause and model of
our spiritual resurrection from sin. 3. The Resurrection of Christ
is the basis and foundation of our religion (l Cor. xv. 14),
since it is the greatest of miracles and the one to which our
Lord chiefly appealed in proof of His Divinity (Luke xi. 29;
John ii. 19). It is also one of the best established facts of
human history. The testimony of the Roman soldiers, the many
apparitions of the risen Saviour, the reluctance at first of the
Apostles to believe it, and their later fearlessness in declaring
it to the whole world, place the Resurrection beyond all doubt,
although it is now the main object of attack on the part of
LESSONS of the Resurrection. l. The newness of life which we
should learn from Christ's resurrection consists in the practice
of virtue and in perseverance to the end.
2. The chief sign by which we may know that we have risen
with Christ to this newness of life is a relish for the things that
are above rather than for the things that are of earth (Col. iii. l).
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part I
ARTICLE V OF THE CREED
THE SECOND PART OF THE FIFTH ARTICLE
We now come to the second part of the fifth Article, and how
indefatigable should be the labors of the pastor in its exposition
we learn from these words of the Apostle to Timothy: "Be
mindful that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen again from the
dead";(1) words no doubt addressed not only to Timothy, but
to all who have care of souls.
But the meaning of the Article is, that after Christ the Lord
had expired on the cross, on Friday at the ninth hour, and
was buried on the evening of the same day by His disciples, who
with the permission of the governor Pilate laid the body of the
Lord, taken down from the cross, in a new tomb, in a garden
near at hand. His soul was reunited to His body early on the
morning of the third day after His death, that is on Sunday,
and thus He who was dead during those three days rose, and
returned again to life, from which He had departed when
RESURRECTION SUPERIOR TO THE NATURAL POWER OF MAN
By the word "resurrection," however, we are not merely to
understand that Christ was raised from the dead,--a privilege
common with Him to many others,--but that He rose by his
own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him
alone,--for it is incompatible with our nature, nor was it ever
given to man to raise himself by his own power, from death to
life. This was an exercise of power reserved for the omnipotent
hand of God, as these words of the Apostle declare: "for although
he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the
power of God."(2) This divine power, having never been separated,
either from His body while in the grave, or from His soul while
disunited from His body, existed in both, and gave to both a
capability of reuniting; and thus did the Son of God, by His
own power, return to life, and rise again from the dead. This
David foretold when, filled with the spirit of God, he prophesied
in these words: " His right hand hath wrought for him salvation,
and his arm is holy."(3) This we also have from the divine lips
of the Redeemer Himself; "I lay down my life," says He, "that
I may take it again . . . and I have power to lay it down: and
I have power to take it up again."(4) To the Jews He also said,
in confirmation of His doctrine: " Destroy this temple, and in
three days I will raise it up."(5) Although the Jews understood
Him to have spoken thus of the magnificent temple of Jerusalem,
built of stone, yet as the Scripture testifies in the same place, "he
spoke of the temple of his body."(6) We sometimes, it is true,
read in Scripture that He was raised by the Father;(7) but this
refers to Him as man, as those passages which say that He rose
by His own power relate to Him as God.(8)
CHRIST "THE FIRST BEGOTTEN OF THE DEAD"
It is also the peculiar privilege of Christ to have been the first
who enjoyed this divine prerogative of rising from the dead, for
He is called in Scripture " the first begotten of the dead,"(9) and
also "the firstborn from the dead."(10) The Apostle also says,
"Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep:
for 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. But every one in his own order: the first-fruits Christ,
then they that are of Christ."(11) These words of the Apostle
are to be understood of a perfect resurrection, by which we are
resuscitated to eternal life and are no longer subject to death.
In this resurrection Christ, the Lord holds the first place; for
if we speak of resurrection, that is of a return to life, subject
to the necessity of again dying, many were thus raised from the
dead before Christ,(12) all of whom, however, were restored to
life to die again. But Christ the Lord, having conquered death,
rose again to die no more, according to this clear testimony
of the Apostle: " Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now
no more, death shall no more have dominion over him."(13)
CHRIST ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY
The Third Day. In explanation of these additional words of
the Article, the pastor will inform the people that Christ did not
remain in the grave during the whole of these three days, but,
as He lay in the sepulchre during an entire natural day, during
part of the preceding day, and part of the following, He is said,
with strictest truth, to have lain in the grave for three days, and
on the third day to have risen again from the dead.
WHY HE ROSE ON THE THIRD DAY
To declare his divinity, He deferred not His resurrection to
the end of the world; while at the same time to prove His
humanity, and the reality of His death, He rose not immediately,
but on the third day after His death, a space of time sufficient
to prove that He had really died.
"ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES" WHY ADDED TO THE CREED
Here the Fathers of the first Council of Constantinople added
the words, "according to the Scriptures," which they received
from St. Paul. These words they embodied with the creed,
because the same Apostle teaches the absolute necessity of the
mystery of the resurrection when he says: " If Christ be not risen
again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . .
for you are yet in your sins."(14) Hence, admiring our belief of
this Article, St. Augustine says: " It is of little moment to believe
that Christ died; this the Pagans, Jews, and all the wicked believe;
in a word, all believe that Christ died; but that He rose
from the dead is the belief of Christians; to believe that He rose
again, this we deem of great moment."(15) Hence it is that our
Lord very frequently spoke to His disciples of His resurrection,
and seldom or never of His passion without adverting to His
resurrection. Thus, when He said: " The Son of man . . . shall
be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged,
and spit upon: and after they have scourged him, they will put
him to death," He added: " and the third day he shall rise
again."(16) Also when the Jews called upon Him to give an
attestation of the truth of His doctrine by some miraculous sign He
said: "A sign shall not be given it, [this generation] but the sign
of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three
days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart
of the earth three days and three nights."(17)
THREE THINGS WHICH ARE HERE TO BE EXPLAINED
To understand still better the force and meaning of this Article,
there are three things which demand attentive consideration:
first, the necessity of the resurrection; secondly, its end
and object; thirdly, the blessings and advantages of which it is
to us the source.
I. NECESSITY OF THE RESURRECTION
With regard to the first, it was necessary that Christ should
rise again in order to manifest the justice of God; for it was
most congruous that He who through obedience to God was
degraded, and loaded with ignominy, should by Him be exalted.
This is a reason assigned by the Apostle in his Epistle to the
Philippians. " He humbled himself," says he," becoming obedient
unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause
God also hath exalted him."(18)
He rose also to confirm our faith, which is necessary for
justification: the resurrection of Christ from the dead by His own
power affords an irrefragable proof of His divinity. It also
nurtures and sustains our hope, for as Christ rose again, we rest on
an assured hope that we too shall rise again; the members must
necessarily arrive at the condition of their head. This is the
conclusion which St. Paul draws from the reasoning which he
uses in his epistles to the Corinthians,(19) and the Thessalonians;
(20) and Peter, the prince of the Apostle, says: " Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his
great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto the inheritance
II. ITS END AND OBJECT
Finally, the resurrection of our Lord, as the pastor will inculcate,
was necessary to complete the mystery of our salvation and
redemption. By His death Christ liberated us from the thraldom
of sin, and restored to us, by His resurrection, the most important
of those privileges which we had forfeited by sin. Hence these
words of the Apostle: "He was delivered up for our sins, and
rose again for our justification."(22.) That nothing, therefore, may
be wanting to perfect the work of our salvation, it was necessary
that as He died. He should also rise again from the dead.
III. ITS BLESSINGS AND ADVANTAGES
From what has been said, we can perceive the important
advantages which the resurrection of our Lord has conferred on
the faithful; in His resurrection we acknowledge Him to be the
immortal God, full of glory, the conqueror of death and hell,
and this we are firmly to believe and openly to profess of Christ
Again, the resurrection of Christ effects our resurrection, not
only as its efficient cause, but also as its model. Thus, with
regard to the resurrection of the body we have this testimony
of the Apostle: " by a man came death, and by a man the
resurrection of the dead."(23.) To accomplish the mystery of our
redemption in all its parts, God made use of the humanity of
Christ as its efficient instrument, and hence His resurrection is
the efficient cause of ours. It is also the model. His resurrection
was the most perfect of all, and as His body, rising to immortal
glory, was changed, so shall our bodies also--before frail and
mortal--be restored and clothed with glory and immortality.
In the language of the Apostle, "we look for the Saviour,
our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness,
made like to the body of His glory."(24.)
The same may be said of a soul dead in sin. How the Resurrection
of Christ is proposed to such a soul as the model of her
resurrection we learn from the same Apostle, when he says;
"Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we
also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted
together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the
likeness of His Resurrection." Again a little further on: "Knowing
that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more,
death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that, He
died to sin, He died once; but in that He liveth, He liveth unto
God: so do you also reckon, that you are dead to sin, but alive
unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord."(25)
From the resurrection of Christ, therefore, we should derive
two important lessons of instruction: the one, that after we have
washed away the stains of sin, we should begin to lead a new
life, distinguished by integrity, innocence, holiness, modesty,
justice, beneficence, and humility; the other, that we should so
persevere in that newness of life as never more, with the divine
assistance, to stray from the paths of virtue on which we have
Nor do the words of the Apostle prove only that the resurrection
of Christ is proposed as the model of our resurrection; they
also declare that it gives us power to rise again, and imparts
to us strength and courage to persevere in holiness and righteousness,
and in the observance of the commandments of God. As
His death not only furnishes us with an example, but also supplies
us with strength to die to sin, so also His resurrection invigorates
us to attain righteousness, that worshipping God in
piety and holiness, we may walk in the newness of life to which
we have risen. For the Redeemer achieved principally by His
resurrection, that we, who before died with Him to sin, and to
the world, may rise also with Him again to a new discipline and
manner of life.
PRINCIPAL PROOFS OF A RESURRECTION FROM SIN
The principal proofs of this resurrection from sin which demand
observation are taught us by the Apostle: " If you be risen
with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting
at the right hand of God."(26) Here he distinctly tells us that
they whose desire of life, honors, riches, and repose are directed
chiefly to the place in which Christ dwells, have truly risen with
Him. But when he adds: " Mind the things that are above, not
the things that are upon the earth,"(27) he gives this, as it were,
as another standard by which we may ascertain if we have truly
risen with Christ. For as a relish for food indicates a healthy
state of the body, so with regard to the soul, if we relish "whatever
things are true, whatever modest, whatever just, whatever
holy,"(28) and experience within us a sense of the sweetness of
heavenly things, this we may consider a very strong proof that
with Christ we have risen to a new and spiritual life.
1. 2 Tim. ii. 8.
2. 2 Cor. xiii. 4.
3. Ps. xcvii. 2.
4. John x. 17, 18.
5. John ii. 19.
6. John ii. 21.
7. Acts ii. 24; iii. 15.
8. Rom. viii. 34.
9. Apoc. i. 3.
10. Col. i. 18.
11. I Cor. xv. 20-23.
12. 3 Kings xvii. 22; 4 Kings iv. 34.
13. Rom. vi. 9.
14. I Cor. xv. 14, 17.
15. Aug. in Ps. cxx. 4.
16. Luke xviii. 31, 32, 33; Matt. xvi. 21.
17. Matt. xii. 39, 40; Luke xi. 29.
18. Philip, ii. 8.
19. I Thess. iv. 13.
20. I Cor. xv. 12.
21. I Pet. i. 3, 4.
22. Rom. iv. 25.
23. Phil. iii. 20, 21.
24. I Cor. xv. 21.
25. Rom. vi. 4, 5, 9-11 26. Col. iii. i. 27. Col. iii. 2.
28. I Phil. iv. 8.
Let us sing Allelujahs to the King of Glory, Who, having laid down His life
for our redemption, is now risen to the life immortal.
Come, let us rejoice in God our Saviour, Who hath redeemed His people, and is
risen triumphant over the powers of hell.
Praise Our Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.
Let those speak who have been redeemed by Our Lord: who have been delivered by
Him out of the hands of the enemy.
That sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, straitened with poverty, and
bound in irons.
And in their tribulation they cried to Our Lord: and He delivered them from
all their calamities.
And He brought them out of darkness, and out of the shadow of death, and
broke asunder their chains.
Let them praise Our Lord for His wonderful deeds to the sons of men.
For He hath made the brazen gates fly in pieces, and hath broken the iron bars.
My soul, bless Our Lord: O Lord my God, Thou hast made Thy greatness wonderfully to appear.
Thou hast put on majesty and glory: Thou art clothed with light as with a garment.
By the strength of Thy arm Thou hast dispersed Thy enemies: Thy youth is
renewed as that of an eagle.
A voice of joy and of salvation is heard in the tents of the just.
The stone, which the builders rejected, is made the cornerstone.
This is the work of Our Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day which Our Lord hath made: let us triumph and rejoice therein.
Make this a day of solemnity; because Our Lord is exalted above His enemies.
Sing to Our Lord a new canticle: let His praise be celebrated in the assembly of saints.
Come, let us rejoice in God our Saviour: because He hath redeemed His people:
And is risen triumphant over the powers of hell.
Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, Have mercy on us.
Jesus, Who hast cleansed us by Thy Blood, Have mercy on us.
Jesus, the Conqueror of sin and death, Have mercy on us.
We sinners: Beseech Thee, hear us.
That we may put off the old man with his acts, We beseech Thee to hear us.
That we may not be conformed to this world, We beseech Thee to hear us.
That we may deny ourselves all ungodliness and worldly desires, We beseech Thee to hear us.
That we may live soberly, justly, and piously, We beseech Thee to hear us.
That being dead to sin, we may live to justice, We beseech Thee to hear us.
That rising with Thee, our Redeemer, we may sin no more. We beseech Thee to hear us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Let us pray:
O God, Who on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son hast overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: do Thou follow with Thine aid the desires which Thou dost put into our minds and by Thy continual help bring the same to good effect. Through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.
The Resurrection of Christ
by the Rev. Thomas F. Burke, C.S.P.
I. No other fact has been such a power in the world as that
which we commemorate today, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead. In the annals of religion and its progress, in
the records of faith and its victories, in the history of morality
and its advancement, in the story of charity and its achievements,
there has been no factor so influential. It is bound up
most intimately and closely with human life. Even those who
deny it as a myth are living today under conditions which would
not exist had not centuries of Christian people believed in this
The Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the Christian
faith, because it is the proof supreme of His Divinity. Throughout
His whole life, indeed, Christ was the revelation of God unto
man." God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke
in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these
days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir
of all things, by whom also he made the world." The greatness,
the beauty, the holiness, the majesty, the love, the mercy, the
justice of God were manifested in the human life and actions of
our Divine Lord upon earth. When an afflicted woman touched
the hem of His garment and He cured her of her sickness; when
the blind man cried out to Him, "Lord, that I may see," and
He gave him sight; when a ruler begged that his child might not
die, and Jesus infused new vigor and health; when a sister and
again a mother were in grief over the loss of a loved one, and
He called the dead back to life; when a thief dying on a cross
sought for pardon, and Jesus washed away the guilt of sin--
in these and in many other instances He gave proof that He was
All these, however, are subordinate to the one grand, triumphal
fact which is the corner-stone of Christianity, and upon which
all the rest of the structure depends--the Resurrection of Christ
from the dead. So could the Apostle say: "If Christ be not risen
from the dead, vain is our preaching, vain is your faith."
He who admits the Resurrection must hold to Christ's Divinity,
and consequently to His divine right to be the Guide and Teacher
of man. On the other hand, he who denies the Resurrection
will not hesitate to sacrifice altogether belief in the divine
prerogatives and the divine mission of Jesus Christ.
II. Relying upon the Gospel narrative, my dear brethren, and
upon the innumerable references throughout the New Testament,
we must conclude that no fact in the world's history is more
incontestably established than the Resurrection of Christ; and
yet we are brought face to face with the denial of this, by some
The New Testament gives us evidence after evidence of the
Truth, God Himself foretold His resurrection. The spirit of
prophecy rested upon Him, and at times, for the sake of His
followers, He lifted the veil that hangs beyond and revealed the
vision, dimly it may have been, of future triumph and glory.
When some would ask Him for a sign. He spoke of the sign of
Jonas the prophet: " For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three
days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart
of the earth three days and three nights" (Matt. xii. 40).
When about to go up to Jerusalem for the last time. He foretold
what would happen to the Son of man: "The scribes and
Pharisees . . . shall deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked,
and scourged, and crucified, and the third day he shall rise again"
(Matt. xx. 18, 19).
At the time of His glorious transfiguration, when His favored
Apostles would have rushed through the world proclaiming the
miracle, "he charged them not to tell any man what things they
had seen, till the Son of man shall be risen again from the dead"
(Mark ix. 8).
Again, "Destroy," said He, "this temple, and in three days I
will raise it up. But he spoke of the temple of His body" (John
ii. 19, 21).
These are but examples of His declarations to the effect that
His suffering would be followed by joy, His night by day, His
death by victory. His words were so understood and acted upon
by the rulers of the Jews. "Sir," they said to Pilate "we have
remembered, that that seducer said, while he was yet alive: After
three days I will rise again. Command therefore the sepulchre
to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come
and steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the
dead" (Matt. xxvii. 63, 64). The Jews therefore were prepared
for any trickery.
The lifeless body was placed in the tomb; a special detachment
of Roman soldiers, with instructions to more than ordinary
watchfulness, was placed on guard and the tomb itself was officially
sealed. Despite these measures, defying the seal of Rome
and its Roman guardians, Christ rose triumphantly from the
dead. On the very day of His resurrection He appeared unto
the repentant and the rejoicing Mary Magdalen. Then to Peter,
His chosen vicar, and to John, His especially beloved. In the
evening of the same day He walked with two of His followers
to the town of Emmaus, and later appeared unto His assembled
After the first day, at least six separate appearances are recorded.
As before His death, now after His resurrection, He
conversed with His Apostles, spoke to His disciples, ate and
drank with them. He brought certainty to the doubting Thomas,
the sceptic apostle whose fault begot those consoling words,
"Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed." Upon
a mountain in Galilee, in the midst of five hundred people, beside
the sacred shores of the Lake of Tiberias, He appeared and spoke
the words of light before which all lingering shadows of doubt
were dispelled, and the flower of hope was newborn.
In reality, my dear brethren, if there be one fact in history
which is better entitled to credit than any other, I do not hesitate
to say that that fact is the glorious resurrection of Jesus from
the tomb. Never, no, never, within the memory of man was any
transaction transmitted through every successive generation, from
the period of its occurrence to the present day, amid such a blaze
of evidence. It is attested by the positive and unexceptionable
testimony of persons of the highest integrity, who were themselves
eyewitnesses of it, who saw Jesus dead, and who afterward
beheld Him alive; who beheld Him not once or twice only,
but frequently; not transiently, but for a considerable time; who
not only beheld Him but who heard Him, conversed with Him,
touched Him, ate and drank with Him, and had every imaginable
certainty, both of the reality and identity of His person which
it was possible for the evidence of the senses to convey, and
who proved, moreover, their honesty and sincerity by that best
of arguments, the shedding of their blood.
Had Christ not risen from the dead, there would be no Christianity.
Had not Christ risen from the dead, the preaching of
the Apostles would have been vain, and the people's faith would
'have been vain. A vain preaching and a vain faith would have
failed long since. Nineteen centuries would not have passed to
find that preaching and hope as strong as ever. Had it been a
vain preaching, it would have been annihilated in the ten great
persecutions which the power of mighty Rome concocted for its
destruction. Had it been a vain preaching, it would have succumbed
to the efforts of him who when dying was forced to
cry out: " Galilean, Thou has conquered." Had it been a vain
preaching, it would have been swept from the face of the earth
in the avalanche of paganism that from the north broke through
the gates of the empire. Had it been a vain preaching, the third,
second, yes, the first century would have stood beside its grave.
III. Yet in the light of these evidences, there are those today
who deny the Resurrection. Upon theoretical grounds they declare
its impossibility, because they hold that miracles in general
are impossible. It is a question of fact more than theory. They
would say: " God cannot interfere with the established laws of
the universe and the decrees of nature."
God cannot interfere? What kind of a God? An impotent
abstraction of the mind? But God is more than this. He is a
reality, a personality. We are free agents. Our freedom is a
perfection. If there be a God, He too must be free, and this
implies the right and the power to make exceptions to His own laws.
IV. We can see that loss of faith in the Resurrection has
brought with it the loss of belief in Jesus Christ, God and man,
and is leading to the entire giving up of faith in God and the
life to come. What is the cause of this ? One cause is disbelief
in the records of the Resurrection, disbelief in the Scriptural
account. Now, I maintain that the only place where belief in
the Scriptures is securely retained, and the only place therefore
where the fact of the Resurrection is safely guarded, is within
the Catholic Church. She is the bulwark of the Resurrection.
She is the one living witness of the fact that Christ rose from
Look about the world Today and you will find no body of
people among whom there is the same respect, the same reverence,
for the Scriptures as among the members of the Catholic
Church. You will find no other church that holds with the same
steadfastness to the sacredness of their character.
While among Christians outside the Catholic Church the principle
of private interpretation of the Scriptures has led men to
believe what they like, and has opened the way not only to
difficulty but no doubt, she has stood in calm serenity and has held
to her position as the teacher of men, the authoritative interpreter
of Scriptures, appointed by Jesus Christ. While outside
of her fold men are gradually coming to look upon the Scriptures
as any other literature, she has unflinchingly declared them
to be supreme over all other writings, to be the inspired truth
of God. While at the best many will accord them only the credence
given to human history, with its liability to prejudice and
error, she proclaims them to be without error, because they are
a Divine record of facts, stamped with the seal of heaven itself.
While among skeptics the Scriptures are considered to be only
a legendary legacy of bygone days, she, filled with the consciousness
of her identity through the ages, can tell the world Today,
as she has told it through nineteen centuries, "I know that these
things are true." And when, as the time goes on, amid those
who have sacrificed belief in the Divine character of the Scriptures,
they shall lose for them even the regard that is paid to
human documents, she will stand, as heretofore, their staunchest
V. Church of Christ, Thou art the one witness upon earth
Today of the Resurrection. Thou alone hast breasted the storms
of the centuries. Thou canst thus speak to the world: "Before
Rationalism was, I am; before the Unitarian and the Socinian,
I am; before Renan and Strauss, I am. Nations have lived and
died; people have risen and fallen: ages have come and gone, I
have witnessed their coming and their going. I have stood firm
and unshaken amidst the storms of persecution, the assaults of
infidelity, the ravages of licentiousness. I can carry the mind
back to the time when the 'smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon
and camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian Amphitheater.'
I have witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, the
downfall of Constantinople, the conquest of Rome. I have
witnessed the formation of the Christian nations of Europe; I have
seen the savage civilized, the barbarian educated, the wild warrior
subdued. I can link the twentieth century with the first. I
have witnessed many of the events recorded in the New Testament.
I am the living witness of all Christian ages, and I bear
my testimony unto this day that Christ has risen."
VI. Today, then, is the day of Christ's triumph, the day of
the Church's rejoicing, that Church to which has been committed
the preaching of the faith founded on His Resurrection. On the
day of His death the world triumphed. Beside the cross the
voice went up: "Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God,
and in three days buildest it up again: save thyself, come down
from the cross." Even then a word would have brought an
army of smiling angels bearing fiery swords; even then a word
would have struck down His persecutors; even then, did He
desire it, that scene of death and defeat could have been changed
into a heavenly victory. He could, but He would not, for then
He was suffering for a guilt that was not His own. On the
morn of the Resurrection another voice spoke. When the holy
woman arrived at the tomb, an angel clothed in white stood
before them and cried out, " He is risen, he is not here."
"Vah, . . . save thyself, come down from the cross."
And the triumphant answer rolls on through the centuries:
"He is risen, He is not here."
Through the world it echoes: "He is risen, as He said." It is
the foundation of Christianity. The Apostles preached it and
they knew whereof they spoke.
He is risen! It is confusion to the deniers of Christ's Divinity,
for, well founded as it is, it cannot be reasonably denied.
He is risen! It is the sign of Faith, inspiring that belief
without which there is no salvation.
He is risen' It is the promise and the hope of our resurrection
upon the last day.
As we take a broad general view of the centuries, we seem to
be standing in the nave of some vast cathedral. Over the distant
altar we can see the inscription, " He is risen, as he said."
From within this cathedral there issues forth the Christian song
of triumph. Within its confines are gathered the hosts of witnesses
from all times. We hear again the Evangelists chanting
solemnly the simple story of Easter morn. We hear the whole
body of the Apostles taking up the refrain and sounding it into
all their followers. We hear St. Paul reiterating the sacred words
and proclaiming that there is no Christianity without faith in the
Resurrection. We hear the witnesses of the first centuries, the
martyrs, clothed in blood-red garments, telling how with their
life they bore testimony to the Resurrection of Christ. We hear
Athanasius, the Saint of the Divinity, using the fact of the
Resurrection against his adversaries; we hear his followers, the
defenders of Christianity, smiling in their turn with the
unanswerable argument of the Resurrection. From each century a
song, and all unite in one grand symphony. The mighty anthem
goes up; the song of triumph cleaves the sky: Resurrexit sicut
dixit, "He has risen, as he said."
And if by some miraculous power it were given us to look into
the court of heaven; if for a moment, on this day, the eternal
gates were lifted, we could hear issuing forth the song of the
myriad angels, companions of those who stood within the tomb,
the song of heaven's triumph: Resurrexit sicut dixit, "He has
risen, as he said."
Right, then, is it that the Church on earth should on this day,
above all others, rejoice. She sings today the triumph of her
Founder. She chants today the glory of the Son of God. Our
hearts, our wills, our minds, our souls are with her.
The faith which springs up lively within our souls, the fountain
of justification; the hope that inspires us in consequence of
the great fact we commemorate; the charity towards God and
man which is to be found only in the Christian heart; the joy
that is the fruit of all these; the joy of sympathy with Jesus
Christ the Victor, the Conqueror--all these are summed up
in that cry which our beloved Church in her raptures of love
repeats again and again: Resurrexit sicut dixit," He said he
would arise, and he has risen."
EASTER, A SEASON OF REJOICING
BY THE REV. M. BOSSAERT
Throughout the world, wherever the light of our holy faith
shines, is heard today the joyful cry of the Catholic Church:
"Alleluia, Christ is risen!" Why, we may be asked, are all
men thus called to share in the joy of our Lord's resurrection?
It is because He accomplished this work for all mankind as well
as for Himself. Just as it was for us that He assumed human
nature and suffered on the cross, so was it for us that He rose
again from the dead. He rose in order to fill our hearts with
joy and consolation, and therefore we may regard Easter as a
most joyful festival.
I. That we may fully realize the gladness of Easter, let us
once more survey the days that have just passed. Everything
in their course suggested our Lord's suffering and death: the
lamentations, the black vestments worn by the priests, the bare
altars, the silence of the bells, all recalled to us more vividly than
ever the Apostle's words that Christ became "obedient unto
death, even to the death of the cross." Silently, in sorrow and
mourning, we accompanied our Lord in thought from the Mount
of Olives to Golgotha; we watched His agony in the Garden of
Gethsemani and heard the sentence against Him pronounced by
His unjust judges; we listened to the strokes of the cruel scourge,
tearing His tender Body, we saw the crown of thorns piercing
His Sacred Head, and we seemed to catch the words of the
infuriated mob crying: "Crucify him; his blood be upon us and
upon our children!" We saw Him staggering under the weight
of the cross on the way to Calvary, and heard the blows of the
hammer with which they nailed Him to the cross; we beheld Him
raised aloft, amid the jeers and insults of His enemies, and we
heard His last words: " It is consummated; Father, into Thy
hands I commend my spirit." We watched His Sacred Head
sink in death, and finally we stood by when His most holy Body
was laid in the grave. Had His enemies really triumphed? Had
death gained dominion over Him? Would the grave be His last
resting place? No, death had no power over the Lord of life.
II. Where God intends to display His omnipotence, the world's
resistance is vain and ineffectual. He broke open the gates of
death and destroyed its sway. In spite of the heavy stone barring
the entrance to the sepulchre, in spite of the official seal set upon
it, and in spite of the guards, our Lord triumphed over death on
the morning of Easter Sunday, came forth from the grave and
returned to life in undying glory. By His own power and
authority, He took back the life that He had voluntarily laid down
on the cross. Yes, our Lord did indeed rise again on the third
day, as He had often foretold, and not only the angels, the pious
women and His disciples, but also the soldiers guarding the
sepulchre, and even His enemies, bore witness to His Resurrection.
It is as much beyond question as any event that ever took
place; it is no less certain than His birth and life, and St. John
Chrysostom is right in saying: "If Jesus did not rise again, it
cannot be true that He ever was born."
III. Let us then rejoice at our Lord's Resurrection, for thereby
He has given us the surest proof that He is in truth our Redeemer
and the Son of God. We know that the sentence pronounced
against us by God's justice has been recalled, and the
guilt of our sins removed, so that we have regained the grace
and friendship with God which had been lost to us through sin.
We know in whom we believe, and no doubt or uncertainty can
ever disturb us. By His Resurrection Jesus showed Himself to
be indeed the Son of God, and therefore what He teaches is
the absolute truth, far above the conflict of human opinions and
the errors of our age. Our glad conviction is based on no
learned arguments, nor on the laborious investigations of men
liable to error, nor on our own views which today seem true and
tomorrow appear false; but it rests on the Word of the
Son of God, which abideth forever. All the promises that He
made to the just and righteous will be fulfilled, as well as the
threats uttered against the ungodly; no word of His will remain
void. If He had not risen from the dead, we should be, as
St. Paul says, the most miserable of men, for without His
Resurrection there would have been no Redemption, and we
should still be in darkness and error; without it all our good
works would have been unprofitable, and all our hopes vain.
Rejoice, therefore, every Christian soul, for your Redeemer
liveth; He, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, hath triumphed; He
hath overcome death, and by His Resurrection hath manifested
His Godhead to the whole world. Amen.