Reflection for Easter Sunday from Holy Cross Publications
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On Our Lord’s Resurrection.
Go in spirit to our Lord’s sepulchre. It is early in the morning; a hallowed silence rests on all around. The sepulchre wherein the body of Jesus reposes is securely closed by the heavy stone; it is guarded by soldiers who perhaps at the dawn of this the third day after His death recall with derision the prediction of the crucified One that He would rise again on the third day. That day has come now, but no sign of any change appears; the sepulchre remains just the same as it was yesterday and the day before, undisturbed, unaltered. Externally all is at rest, but behind the stone, within the tomb, the repose is not unbroken.
1st. Consider that our Lord’s soul has just left Limbo, and accompanied by the holy patriarchs, has returned to the sepulchre, to be reunited to the sacred remains deposited there. There the body lies, wrapped in linen cloths, rigid and lifeless. What, think you, must the feelings of those devout patriarchs have been when they saw the price at which their redemption was purchased, when they gazed upon the dead body of our Lord, when they beheld it to be one vast wound, crimsoned with blood, marked with five large, gaping wounds, on hands and feet and side! Well may we suppose them to have been stimulated by this spectacle to give thanks anew to the Lord for the redemption He accomplished with so much suffering, the awful cost of which this sepulchre now reveals to them. Yet while they gazed in sorrow on the mournful sight the sacred body of Christ presented, all was speedily to be changed, and a wondrous and joyful transition to take place.
2d. Consider the complete transformation our Lord’s body underwent when the soul was reunited to it. All the disfigurement, all the stains and scars vanished in an instant; the defaced and mangled body is suddenly clothed with light and shines with greater brilliance than when transfigured on Thabor. Rigid and motionless a moment before, it suddenly becomes translucent, subtle, ethereal, endowed with immortality and with celestial splendor. The sacred wounds have not however disappeared; nay, on our Lord’s glorified body they shine like stars and sparkle like precious stones, and the risen Saviour will ever retain them as a perpetual memorial of the redemption He accomplished. Here behold, my soul, an image, an earnest of your own resurrection. This body of yours which perhaps is now so unlovely, so defaced and deformed, so tortured by aches and pains, will one day shine with the radiance of the noon-day sun, will gleam as brightly as the morning star; but, be it observed, this will only be the case if it bears the marks not of transgressions and iniquities, but of those graces and virtues which flow from the five wounds of the glorified body of Christ, our risen Lord.
3d. Consider in what manner our Lord rose from the grave. Like a lightning-flash He penetrated the rock, the earth quaked, an angel descended like a flash of light from Heaven above and rolled the stone that closed the sepulchre to one side. The watchmen were struck with terror and became as dead men; they laid on the ground stupefied, dazzled by the brilliant light that streamed out of the sepulchre. Unseen by men the celestial cohorts hovered around the risen Christ; and as they once sang their joyous song: Gloria in excelsis Deo in the plains of Bethlehem, so it may be readily imagined that now, when their God and their King rose in triumph from the grave, a threefold victor over His foes, over death and over hell, in holy exultation they raised their jubilant voices, repeating the words the Church to-day takes upon her lips: “This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Rejoice with them, my soul; let your alleluia rise up to Heaven, resounding out of the depths of a heart overflowing with joy and gladness; and let this day be nothing else but one long canticle of pious, joyous praise and thanksgiving to the glory of Him who on the third day rose again from the dead!
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.