The Sequence Song for the liturgy of Easter Day depicts what happened in the Paschal Mystery as a magnificent cosmic duel: "Death and Life have contended in a combat stupendous, and the Prince of Life, Who died, now reigns immortal." Easter is the triumph of light over darkness. The resurrection of Jesus Christ "gives substance to human dreams, gives purpose to human progress, and gives a destination to the journey of humanity." The beginning of the Easter Proclamation on Holy Saturday evening says it well: "Let the hosts of heaven exult; let the angels, the ministers of God exult; let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph. Let the earth be glad as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King. Let all the corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Let our Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the light of His glory! Let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples."
The Proclamation goes on: "This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld. O truly blessed night when things of heaven are wed to those of earth and the divine to the human! Our birth would have been no gain had we not been redeemed. O wonder (God our Father) of Your humble care for us! O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom as slave You gave away Your Son!"
Father Pius Parsch remarks, "The early Christians kept but one feast, Easter, and they were right in doing so, for the Easter Solemnity embraces all the events in the life of Christ. His birth, baptism, passion, death are all segments of His one great task, the work of man’s redemption. At Easter this work reaches its full and final stage. At Easter Christ becomes the Redeemer, the Conqueror, the Father of a new family of human beings. At Easter He becomes the glorified Head of the Mystical Body, His Catholic Church. That Body can now expand to its predestined fullness. It now can sanctify and divinize all its members."
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, said, "Easter morning brings us news that is ancient, yet ever new: Christ is risen! The echo of this event which issued forth from Jerusalem twenty centuries ago continues to resound in the Church, deep in whose heart lives the vibrant faith of Mary, Mother of Jesus, of Mary Magdalene, and the other women who first discovered the empty tomb, and the faith of Peter and the other Apostles. Right down to our own time, even in these days of advanced communications technology, the faith of Christians is based on that same news, on the testimony of those sisters and brothers who saw firstly the stone that had been rolled away from the empty tomb and then the mysterious messengers who testified that Jesus, the crucified was risen. And then, Jesus Himself, the Lord and Master, living and tangible, appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and finally to all the Eleven gathered in the Upper Room (Mark 16:9-14)."
"The resurrection of Christ is not the fruit of speculation or mystical experience. It is an event which, while it surpasses history, nevertheless happens at a precise moment in history and leaves an indelible mark upon it. The light which dazzled the guards keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb has traversed time and space. It is a different kind of light, a divine light that has rent asunder the darkness of death and has brought to the world the splendor of God, the splendor of Truth and Goodness. Just as the sun’s rays in the springtime cause the buds on the branches of the trees to sprout and open up, so the radiance that streams forth from Christ’s resurrection gives strength and meaning to every human hope, to every expectation, wish, and plan. Hence, the entire cosmos is rejoicing on Easter, caught up in the springtime of humanity, which gives voice to creation’s silent hymn of praise. The Easter Alleluia, resounding in the Church as she makes her pilgrim way through the world, expresses the silent exultation of the universe and above all the longing of every human soul that is sincerely open to God, giving thanks to Him for His infinite beauty, goodness, and truth."
As has been said, Easter is the annual proclamation that eternal life is available and here and that victory has been won. It inspires us, the disciples of Christ, to toil more diligently upon the lake (John 21:3), knowing that He is on the shore waiting to greet us, to love us, and to ask us to love Him in return. Easter should remind us that at every Mass He walks with us on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to tell us what little sense we have, to interpret for us the passages of Sacred Scripture, and to make our hearts burn within us so we can recognize Him in the "Breaking of the Bread". Creation began on a Sunday and so the fact that the resurrection occurred on a Sunday means that a new creation has been begun by Almighty God. The history of the new creation began on the first day of the week and will continue until it is, at Christ’s Second Coming, enveloped in an endless sabbatical rest.
Blessed John Henry Newman said, "The celebration of Easter is meant to help us to know our place, our position, our situation as children of God, members of Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We are risen and we know it not. It takes a long time for us to apprehend what we profess. We are like people waking from sleep who cannot collect their thoughts at once. But, little by little, the truth should dawn on us. Let us pray, let us work, let us meditate and thus gradually comprehend what we are. As time goes on, we must struggle to give up the shadows and find the substance. Each Easter as it comes will enable us more to rejoice with heart and understanding about that great salvation which Christ accomplished. With Saint Paul each Easter calls out to us across the centuries: Our commonwealth is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Let us answer that call, in the words of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, by going to Jesus’ empty tomb with the perfumes of good acts and the spices of holy desires until we see God’s face and share Christ’s victory forever." Saint Augustine preached that we, Christ’s followers, are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said that Easter makes us realize that "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered and Wisdom has prevailed over malice."
Pope Benedict said, "On Easter let us resolve to walk behind Christ through our wounded world singing Alleluia. In our hearts there is joy and sorrow and on our faces there are smiles and tears. Such is our earthly reality. But, Christ is risen. He is alive and He walks with us. For this reason, we can sing as we walk, faithfully carrying out our tasks on earth with our gaze fixed on heaven." Dear readers, to you and your loved ones go out my fervent prayers and good wishes for a most blessed Easter!
An Ordinary Viewpoint