Saturday, April 21, 2007

Easter joy

Last week, I was thinking about the transition from the exhilaration of Easter Sunday to the quieter joy of the Easter Octave and the rest of Eastertide. Perhaps also this is a question about how one maintains a profound joy in Christ throughout the struggles and tragedies of daily life.

In making the transition, I think the liturgy helps enormously.

Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia:
posuisti super me manum tuam, alleluia:
mirabilis facta est scientia tua, alleluia, alleluia.

Domine, probasti me, cognovisti me:
tu cognovisti sessionem meam,
et resurrectionem meam.

Rather than an exuberant piece rejoicing in the triumph of the resurrection, the Easter Sunday Mass opens in a much more subtle and powerful way. Both the music and the words speak of the serene joy of the Trinity as Jesus recounts the accomplishment of His mission to the Father. There is also an echo of calvary, one that perhaps can help us see that Easter joy is not simply a superficial jolliness. It would be artificial and impossible to try to maintain the "high" of the Vigil throughout the year. Instead, ours is a joy that is there even in the presence of extreme suffering and pain, a joy that comes from our sure and certain hope of resurrection.

I also find the Scripture texts of the post-resurrectional appearances very helpful. There's a different quality to Jesus' appearances after his resurrection. There's a stillness and a sense of a more profound encounter, an encounter that often seems to take place very early in the morning, or as evening draws in. Even those who know and love Him the best seem to take some time to recognise Him.

My transition and sustenance come primarily through prayer, through a watchful attentiveness for His presence in the stillness of the early morning. It is this daily time spent with Him that sustains my Easter joy throughout the year.

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