Easter Sunday
Taken from Fr. Leonard Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays, and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year
36th edition, 1880

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What is the festival of Easter?

EASTER, in Latin Pascha, signifies passing over, and has the following historical origin: Under Pharao, King of Egypt, the Jews in that country groaned under intolerable bondage. God had mercy on His people, and the hour of deliverance came. By His command the first-born of all the Egyptians was killed by an angel. The Jews had been ordered by God to be ready for emigration, but first to kill a lamb, eat it in their houses in common, and sprinkle the door posts with its blood. And the angel of death, by order of God, passed the doors sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, and did no harm to any child of the Israelites, whilst he slew all the first-born sons of the Egyptians. In grateful memory of this passing their doors, the Jews observed the festival of Easter, the Pasch, or Passover. After the death of Jesus, the apostles introduced the same festival into the Church in grateful remembrance of the day on which Jesus, the true Easter Lamb, took away our sins by His blood, freed us from the angel of eternal death,
and passed us over to the freedom of the children of God.

Where, during this time, was Christ's holy soul?

In Limbo, that is, the place where the souls of the just who died before Christ, and were yet in original sin, were awaiting their redemption.

What have we to expect from the Resurrection of Christ?

That our bodies will rise again from death. (Rom. viii. ii.) For if Christ our head is alive, then we His members must also become reanimated, because a living head cannot exist without living members.

What is meant by the Alleluia sung in Easter time?

In English Alleluia means, Praise the Lord, and expresses the joy of the Church at the Resurrection of Christ, and the hope of eternal happiness which He has obtained for us.

Why does the Church on this day bless eggs, bread, and meat?

To remind the faithful that although the time of fasting is now ended, they should not indulge in gluttony, but thank God, and use their food simply for the necessary preservation of physical strength.

At the Introit the Church introduces Christ, Her Head, as addressing His Heavenly Father in these words; I arose, and am still with thee, alleluia; thou hast laid thy hand upon me, alleluia: thy knowledge is become wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. Lord, thou hast proved me and known me: Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up. (Ps. cxxxviii.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH O God, who on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, didst overcome death and open unto us the gate of everlasting life; as by Thy prompting grace Thou dost breathe on the desires of our hearts, so do Thou ever accompany them with Thy help. Through etc.

EPISTLE (i Cor. v. 78.) BRETHREN, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened: for Christ our Pasch is sacrificed. Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Quote:EXPLANATION.  St. Paul here exhorts us that we should at this time remove by a good confession and true penance the leaven, that is, the sins we have committed, and partake of the Paschal lamb in holy Communion with a pure, sincere heart; as the Jews were on this day commanded to eat the Paschal lamb with unleavened bread, abstaining on this day from the old leaven.

During the octave of this festival repeat often with the Church: "Alleluia! Praise to the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endureth forever. Alleluia ! This is the day the Lord has made, Alleluia! Let us rejoice therein, Alleluia! Our Paschal Lamb is Christ who sacrificed Himself for us, Alleluia!"

GOSPEL (Mark xvi. I 7.) AT THAT TIME, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Salome, bought sweet spices, that, .coming, they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back, for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe, and they were astonished. Who saith to them: Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here; behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples, and Peter, that he goeth before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he told you.

Why did the holy women desire to embalm the body of Jesus with spices?

Because it was the custom of the Jews to embalm the dead, and as the Sabbath was so near and the time so short that they could not do it before the burial, these pious women procured the spices, and immediately after the Sabbath, hurried in the early morning to the sepulchre, to perform this act of love. We are taught by their conduct, that true love is never indifferent or slow, and what is agreeable to God it does without hesitation.

Why did the angel send the women to the disciples, and especially to Peter?

Because the disciples were to announce the Resurrection of Christ to the whole world, and they were now much saddened, and disturbed because of His death. Peter was the head of the apostles, and on account of having three times denied our Lord, he was greatly dejected and faint of heart, and was, therefore, above all to be comforted.

What encouragement does the Resurrection of Christ give us?

It encourages us to rise spiritually with Him, and live henceforth a new life, (Rom. vi. 4.) which we do if we not only renounce sin, but also flee from all its occasions, lay aside our bad habits, subdue our corrupt inclinations, and aim after virtue and heavenly things.

ASPIRATION I rejoice, O my Jesus, that Thou hast victoriously risen from death. By Thy triumph over death, hell and the devil, grant us the grace to subdue our evil inclinations, walk in a new life, and die to all earthly things. Amen.

INSTRUCTION. IT is certainly true that Christ, by His death on the cross and by His resurrection, has rendered perfect satisfaction, and effected man's redemption; (Heb. ix. 12.) but we must not imagine that there is no further need of doing penance, or of working out our salvation. For, as the children of Israel, though freed from Pharao's bondage, had to fight long and against many enemies in order to gain the Promised Land, so also must we, though freed by Christ from the servitude of the devil, battle against our enemies to the end of our lives to obtain the promised, heavenly land, for no one is crowned unless he has properly fought, (ii Tim. ii. 5.) We must apply the merits of the redemption and satisfaction of Christ to our soul by the frequent reception of the holy sacraments; by imitating His virtues; by patiently bearing our trials and sufferings; and by a penitential life. The pious Angelus Silesius very appropriately writes:

"God is a Lamb that avails you not, my Christian,
If you become not also a lamb of God.
The cross on Golgotha redeems not from evil,
If it is not also erected in thee;
The dear Christ's death aids you not, my Christian,
Until in Him and for Him you also have died."
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Easter Sunday
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus; exsultemus et lætemur in ea! 
This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein!


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The night between Saturday and Sunday has well nigh run its course, and the day-dawn is appearing. The Mother of sorrows is waiting, in courageous hope and patience, for the blissful moment of her Jesus’ return. Magdalene and the other holy women have spent the night in watching, and are preparing to start for the sepulcher. In limbo, the Soul of our crucified Lord is about to give the glad word of departure to the myriads of the long-imprisoned holy souls, who cluster round Him in adoring love. Death is still holding his silent sway over the sepulcher, where rests the Body of Jesus. Since the day when he gained his first victim, Abel, he has swept off countless generations; but never has he held in his grasp a prey so noble as this that now lies in the tomb near Calvary. Never has the terrible sentence of God, pronounced against our first parents, received such a fulfillment as this; but never has death received such a defeat as the one that is now preparing. It is true, the power of God has, at times brought back the dead to life: the son of the widow of Naim, and Lazarus, were reclaimed from the bondage of this tyrant death; but he regained his sway over them all. But his Victim of Calvary is to conquer him forever, for this is He of whom it is written in the prophecy: “O death! I will be thy death!” Yet a few brief moments and the battle will be begun, and life shall vanquish death.

As divine justice could not allow the Body that was united to the Word to see corruption, and there wait, like ours must, for the Archangel’s word to “rise and come to judgment,” so neither could it permit the dominion of death to be long over such a Victim. Jesus had said to the Jews: “A wicked generation seeketh a sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but that of Jonas the prophet.” Three days in the tomb—the afternoon and night of Friday, the whole of Saturday, and a few hours of the Sunday—yes, these are enough: enough to satisfy divine justice; enough to certify the death of the Crucified, and make His triumph glorious; enough to complete the martyrdom of that most loving of mothers, the Queen of sorrows.

“No man taketh away my life from Me: I lay it down of Myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” Thus spoke our Redeemer to the Jews before His Passion: now is the hour for the fulfillment of His words, and death shall feel their whole force. The day of light, Sunday, has begun, and its early dawn is struggling with the gloom. The Soul of Jesus immediately darts from the prison of limbo, followed by the whole multitude of the holy souls that are around Him. In the twinkling of an eye, it reaches and enters the sepulcher, and reunites itself with that Body which, three days before, it had quitted amidst an agony of suffering. The sacred Body returns to life, raises itself up, and throws aside the winding-sheet, the spices, and the bands. The bruises have disappeared, the Blood has been brought back to the veins; and from these limbs that had been torn by the scourging, from this head that had been mangled by the thorns, from these hands and feet that had been pierced with nails, there darts forth a dazzling light that fills the cave. The holy Angels had clustered round the stable and adored the Babe of Bethlehem; they are now around the sepulcher, adoring the conqueror of death. They take the shrouds, and reverently folding them up, place them on the slab, whereon the Body had been laid by Joseph and Nicodemus.

But Jesus is not to tarry in the gloomy sepulcher. Quicker than a ray of light through a crystal, He passes through the stone that closes the entrance of the cave. Pilate had ordered his seal to be put upon this stone, and a guard of soldiers is there to see that no one touches it. Untouched it is, and unmoved; and yet Jesus is free! Thus, as the holy Fathers unanimously teach us, was it at His birth: He appeared to the gaze of Mary, without having offered the slightest violence to her maternal womb. The birth and the resurrection, the commencement and the end of Jesus’ mission, these two mysteries bear on them the seal of resemblance: in the first, it is a Virgin Mother; in the last, it is a sealed tomb giving forth its captive God.

And while this Jesus, this Man-God, thus breaks the scepter of death, the stillness of the night is undisturbed. His and our victory has cost Him no effort. O death! where is now thy kingdom? Sin had made us slaves; thy victory was complete; and now, lo! thou thyself art defeated! Jesus, whom thou didst exultingly hold under thy law, has set Himself free; and we, after thou hast domineered over us for a time, we too shall be free from thy grasp. The tomb thou makest for us will become to us the source of a new life, for He that now conquers thee is “the First-born among the dead;” and today is the Pasch, the Passover, the deliverance, for Jesus and for us, His brethren. He has led the way; we shall follow; and the day will come when thou, the enemy that destroyest all things, shalt thyself be destroyed by immortality. Thy defeat dates from this moment of Jesus’ resurrection, and, with the great Apostle, we say to thee: “O death! where is thy victory! O death! where is thy sting?”

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But the sepulcher is not to remain shut: it must be thrown open, and testify to men, that He whose lifeless Body lay there is indeed risen from the dead. As when our Jesus expired upon the Cross, so now, immediately after His resurrection, an earthquake shook the foundations of the world; but this time, it was for joy. “The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror,” and fell on the ground “as dead men.” God has mercy on them; they return to themselves, and quitting the dread sepulcher, they hasten to the city and relate what they have seen.

Meanwhile, our risen Jesus, seen by no other mortal eye, has sped to His most holy Mother. He is the Son of God; He is the vanquisher of death; but He is, likewise, the Son of Mary. She stood near Him to the last, uniting the sacrifice of her mother’s heart with that He made upon the Cross; it is just, therefore, that she should be the first to partake of the joy of His resurrection. The Gospel does not relate the apparition thus made by Jesus to His Mother, whereas all the others are fully described. It is not difficult to assign the reason. The other apparitions were intended as proofs of the resurrection; this to Mary was dictated by the tender love borne to her by her Son. Both nature and grace required that His first visit should be to such a Mother, and Christian hearts dwell with delight on the meditation of the mystery. There was no need of its being mentioned in the Gospel; the tradition of the holy Fathers, beginning with St. Ambrose, bears sufficient testimony to it; and even had they been silent, our hearts would have told it us. And why was it that our Savior rose fro the tomb so early on the day He had fixed for His resurrection? It was because His filial love was impatient to satisfy the vehement longings of His dearest and most afflicted Mother. Such is the teaching of many pious and learned writers; and who that knows aught of Jesus and Mary could refuse to accept it?

But who is there would attempt to describe the joy of such a meeting? Those eyes, that had grown dim from wakefulness and tears, now flash with delight at beholding the brightness which tells her Jesus is come. He calls her by her name; not with the tone of voice which pierced her soul when He addressed her from the Cross, but with an accent of joy and love, such as a son would take when telling a mother that he had triumphed. The Body which, three days ago, she had seen covered with Blood and dead, is now radiant with life, beaming with the reflections of divinity. He speaks to her words of tenderest affection, He embraces her, He kisses her. Who, we ask, would dare to describe this scene, which the devout Abbot Rupert says so inundated the soul of Mary with joy that it made her forget all the sorrows she had endured.

Nor must we suppose that the visit was a short one. In one of the revelations granted to the seraphic St. Teresa, our Lord told her that when He appeared to His blessed Mother immediately after His resurrection, He found her so overwhelmed with grief that she would soon have died; that it was not until several moments had passed, that she was able to realize the immense joy of His presence; and that He remained a long time with her, in order to console her.

Let us, who love this blessed Mother and have seen her offer up her Son on Calvary for our sake, let us affectionately rejoice in the happiness wherewith Jesus now repays her, and let us learn to compassionate her in her dolors. This is the first manifestation of our risen Jesus: it is a just reward for the unwavering faith which has dwelt in Mary’s soul during these three days, when all but she had lost it. But it is time for Him to show Himself to others, that so the glory of His resurrection may be made known to the world. His first visit was to her who is the dearest to Him of all creatures, and who well deserved the favor; now, in His goodness, He is about to console those devoted women, whose grief is, perhaps, too human, but their love is firm, and neither death nor the tomb have shaken it.

Yesterday, when the sunset proclaimed to the Jews the end of the great Sabbath and the commencement of the Sunday, Magdalene and her companions went into the city and bought perfumes, wherewith, this morning at break of day, they purpose embalming the Body of their dear Master. They have spent a sleepless night. Before the dawn of day, Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome, are on the road that leads to Calvary, for the sepulcher is there. So intent are they on the one object, that it never occurs to them, until it is too late, to provide for the removing of the heavy stones, which closes the sepulcher. There is the seal, too, of the Governor, which must be broken before they can enter; there are the soldiers who are keeping guard: these difficulties are quite overlooked. It is early daybreak when they reach the tomb. The first thing that attracts their attention is that the stone has been removed, so that one can see into the sepulcher. The Angel of the Lord, who had received the mission to roll back the stone is seated on it as upon a throne; he thus addresses the three holy women, who are speechless from astonishment and fear: “Be not affrighted! Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here.” Then encouraging them to enter the sepulcher, he adds: “Behold the place where they laid him!”

These words should fill them with joy: but no; their faith is weak, and as the Evangelist says, “a trembling and fear seize them.” The dear Remains they are in search of are gone: the Angel tells them so: his saying that Jesus is risen fails to awaken their faith in the resurrection: they had hoped to find the Body! While in the sepulcher, two other Angels appear to them, and the place is filled with light. St. Luke tells us that Magdalene and her companions “bowed down their heads,” for they were overpowered with fear and disappointment. Then the Angels said to them: “Why seek ye the Living with the dead? Remember how He spake unto you, when He was yet in Galilee, saying: “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again!” These words make some impression upon the holy women, and they begin to remember something of what our Lord had said of His resurrection. “Go!” said one of the Angels, “tell His disciples and Peter, that He is going before you into Galilee.”

The three women leave the sepulcher and return with haste to the city; they are full of fear, and yet there is an irresistible feeling of joy mingled with their fear. They relate what they have seen: they have seen Angels, and the sepulcher open, and Jesus’ Body was not there. All three agree in their account;but the Apostles, as the Evangelist tells us, set it down to womanish excitement: “Their words seem idle tales and they believe them not.” The Resurrection, of which their divine Master had so clearly and so often spoken, never once crosses their mind. It is particularly to Peter and John that Magdalene relates the wonderful things she has seen and heard; but her own faith is still weak! She went with the intention of embalming the Body of Jesus, and she found it not! She can speak of nothing but her disappointment: “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid Him!”

Peter and John determine to go themselves to the sepulcher. They enter. They see the “linen cloths lying” upon the slab whereon the Body of Jesus had been placed; but the Angels who are now keeping guard in the holy cave appear not to them. Saint John tells us that this was the moment he received the faith in the resurrection: he believes. We are now merely giving the history of the events of this greatest of days, in the order in which they occurred: we will afterwards meditate upon them more leisurely, when the holy Liturgy brings them before us.

So far, Jesus has appeared to no one save His blessed Mother; the holy women have only seen the Angels, who spoke to them. These heavenly spirits bade them go and announce the resurrection of their Master to the disciples and Peter. They are not told to bear the message to Mary; the reason is obvious: Jesus has already appeared to His Mother, and is with her while all these events are happening. The sun is now shedding his beams upon the earth, and the hours of the grand morning are speeding onwards: the Man-God is about to proclaim the triumph He has won for us over death. Let us reverently follow Him in each of these manifestations, and attentively study the lessons they teach us.

As soon as Peter and John have returned, Magdalene hastens once more to the tomb of her dear Master. A soul like hers, ever earnest, and now tormented with anxiety, cannot endure to rest. Where is the Body of Jesus? Perhaps being insulted by His enemies? Having reached the door of the sepulcher, she bursts into tears. Looking in, she sees two Angels, seated at either end of the slab on which her Jesus had been laid. They speak to her, for she knows not what to say: “Woman! why weepest thou?”—“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” Without waiting for the Angels to reply, she turns as thou she would leave the sepulcher; when lo! she sees a man standing before her, and this Man is Jesus. She does not recognize Him: she is in search of the dead Body of our Lord; she is absorbed in the resolution of giving it a second burial! Her love distracts her, for it is a love that is not guided by faith; her desire to find Him, as she thinks Him to be, blinds her from seeing Him as He really is—living, and near her.

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Jesus, with His wonted condescension, speaks to her: “Woman! why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” Magdalene recognizes not this voice; her heart is dulled by an excessive and blind sentiment of grief; her spirit does not as yet know Jesus. Her eyes are fixed upon Him; but her imagination persuades her that this man is the gardener, who has care of the ground about the sepulcher. She thinks within herself, “This perhaps is he that has taken my Jesus!” and thereupon she thus speaks to him: “Sir, if thou hast taken Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.” How is our loving Redeemer to withstand this? If He praised her for the love she showed him in the pharisee’s house, we may be sure He will now reward this affectionate simplicity. A single word, spoken to her with the tone of voice she so well understood, is enough:—“Mary!”—“Master!” exclaims the delighted and humble Magdalene. All is now clear: she believes.

She rushes forward: she would kiss those sacred feet, as on the happy day when she received her pardon; but Jesus stays her; this is not the time for such a demonstration of her affection. Magdalene, the first witness of the resurrection, is to be raised, in reward of her love, to the high honor of publishing the great mystery. It is not fitting that the blessed Mother should reveal the secret favor she has received from her Son: Magdalene is to proclaim what she has seen and heard at the sepulcher, and become as the holy Fathers express it, the Apostle of the very Apostles. Jesus says to her: “Go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

The second apparition of Jesus, then, is to Mary Magdalene: it is the first in testimony of His resurrection, for the one to His blessed Mother was for another object. The Church will bring it before us on the Thursday of this week, and we will then make it the subject of our meditation. At present, let us adore the infinite goodness of our Redeemer, who, before seeking to fix the faith of His resurrection in them that are to preach it to all nations, deigns to recompense the love of this woman who followed Him even to the Cross, was faithful to Him after His death, and loved Him most, because most forgiven. By thus showing Himself to Magdalene, Jesus teaches us that He is more anxious to satisfy the love He bears His faithful creature than to provide for His own glory.

Magdalene loses no time in doing her Master’s bidding. She hastens back to the city, and having come to the disciples, says to them: “I have seen the Lord, and these things He said to me.” But as yet, they have not faith; John alone has received that gift, although he has seen nothing more than the empty sepulcher. Let us remember that after having fled like the rest of the disciples, he followed Jesus to Calvary, was present at His death, and was made the adopted son of Mary.

Meanwhile, Magdalene’s two companions, Salome, and Mary the mother of James, are following her, though slowly and at some distance, to Jerusalem. Jesus meets them, and greets them, saying: “All hail.” Overcome with joy they fall down and adore Him, and kiss His sacred feet. It is the third apparition; and they that are favored with it are permitted to do what was denied to the more favored and fervent Magdalene. Before the day is over, Jesus will show Himself to them whom He has chosen as the heralds of His glory; but He first wishes to honor these generous women, who, braving every danger, and triumphing over the weakness of their sex, were more faithful to Him in His Passion, than the men He had so highly honored as to make them His Apostles. When He was born in the stable at Bethlehem, the first he called to worship Him in His crib were some poor shepherds; He sent his Angels to invite them to go to Him before He sent the star to call the magi. So now—when He has reached the summit of His glory, put the finish to all His works by His resurrection, and confirmed our faith in His divinity by the most indisputable miracle—He does not begin by instructing and enlightening His Apostles, but by instructing, consoling, and most affectionately honoring these humble but courageous women. How admirable are the dispensations of our God! How sweet, and yet how strong! Well does He say to us by His prophet: “My thoughts are not your thoughts!”

Let us suppose, for a moment, that we had been permitted to arrange the order of these two mysteries. We should have summoned the whole world, kings and people, to go and pay homage at the crib. We should have trumpeted to all nations the miracle of miracles, the resurrection of the Crucified, the victory over death, the restoration of mankind to immortality! But He who is “the power and wisdom of God,” Christ Jesus our Lord, has followed a very different plan. When born in Bethlehem He would have for His first worshipers a few simple-minded shepherds, whose power to herald the great event was confined to their own village: and yet the birthday of this little Child is now the era of every civilized nation. For the first witnesses of His resurrection, He chose three weak women; and yet, the whole earth is now, at this very moment, celebrating anniversary of this resurrection. There is in it a mysterious feeling of joy unlike that of any other day throughout the year: no one can resist it, not even the coldest heart. The infidel who scoffs at the believer, knows at least that this is Easter Sunday. Yea, in the very countries where paganism and idolatry are still rife, there are Christians whose voices unite with ours in singing the glorious Alleluia to our risen Jesus. Let us, then, cry out as Moses did when the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, and were keeping their first Pasch: “Who, O Lord, is like unto Thee, among the strong?”

We will resume our history of the resurrection when we come to the hour of each apparition. It is now time for us to unite with the Church in her Office of Matins. She has spent the greatest part of the night in administering that holy Sacrament of regeneration, which gives her a new people; and now she is about to offer to God the wonted tribute of her praise.

Mass.—It is the hour of Tierce (9 o’clock), and the basilica is crowded with the faithful. The sun is pouring in his brightest beams; and who has not felt the charm of an Easter sun? The pavement is strewed with flowers. Above the glittering mosaics of the apse, the wall is covered with rich tapestry. Festoons hang from the sanctuary arch to the pillars of the nave and aisles. Lamps, fed with the purest oil and suspended from the ciborium (or canopy), are burning around the altar. The Paschal candle, which has been ceaselessly burning since last night, stands on its marble pillar; its bright flame attracts every eye, and the perfumes wherewith its wick is saturated fill the sacred edifice with a delicious fragrance. It is the noble symbol of Jesus, our light, and seems to say: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”

But by far the most interesting object is the group of the neophytes, clad in their white garments, like the Angels that appeared at the sepulcher. They are the living expression of the mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection. Yesterday they were dead, by sin; now they are living, by that new life which is the fruit of Jesus’ victory over death. Oh! happy thought of our mother the Church, to choose for the day of their regeneration that on which the Man-God won immortality for us His creatures!

The Station, at Rome, was formerly in the basilica of Saint Mary Major, the principal church of all those that are dedicated to the Mother of God in the holy city. Was it not just to associate with the Paschal solemnity the memory of her who, more than all other creatures, had merited its joys, not only because of the exceptional share she had in all the sufferings of Jesus, but also because of the unshaken faith wherewith, during those long and cruel hours of His lying in the tomb, she had awaited His Resurrection? But now the papal Mass is celebrated in St. Peter’s, as being more convenient, by its size and situation, to the immense concourse of the faithful who flock to Rome from every part of the Christian world for the Feast of Easter. The Roman Missal, however, still gives Saint Mary Major as the stational church of today; and the indulgences are gained, as formerly, by those who assist at the Services celebrated there.

There is no water blessed for the Asperges today, as it is the custom on all other Sundays throughout the year. We assisted, a few hours ago, at the imposing ceremony of the blessing of the water, which was to be used for the Baptism of the catechumens. The water which is now going to be sprinkled upon the faithful was taken from the font of regeneration. During this ceremony, the choir sings the following Antiphon:


Vidi aquam egredientem de templo a latere dextro, alleluia: et omnes ad quos pervenit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: 
Alleluia, alleluia. I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved; and they shall say: Alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius. 
Ps. Praise the Lord, because He is good; because His mercy endureth forever.

Gloria Patri. 
Vidi aquam. 

Glory, &c. 
I saw.

℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam, alleluia. 
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy, alleluia.

℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis, alleluia. 
℟. And grant us thy salvation, alleluia.

Let us pray

Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de coelis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 
Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit, and defend all that are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In many of the western churches, the following stanzas, written by St. Venantius Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers, used formerly to be sung during the procession before today’s Mass. We insert them here, feeling assured that they will interest our readers, and assist them to enter more fully into the spirit of the great solemnity for which our forefathers made them serve as a preparation. We shall find them replete with the same enthusiasm that inspired the author when he composed the Vexilla Regis, and the hymn of the holy chrism: there is the same bold and energetic, almost harsh, diction, the same piety, the same richness of poetry and sentiment. The beautiful chant to which this hymn was sung is still extant.

Easter Song

Salve, festa dies, toto venerabilis ævo;
Qua deus infernum vicit et astra tenet. 

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day! whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.

Ecce renascentis testatur gratia mundi,
Omnia cum Domino dona redisse suo. 

Lo! our earth is in her spring; bearing thus her witness that, with her Lord, she has all her gifts restored.

Repeat. Salva, festa dies. 
Repeat. Hail, thou festive.

Namque triumphanti post tristia tartara Christo,
Undique fronde nemus, gramina flore favent. 

For now the woods with their leaves, and the meadows with their flowers, pay homage to Jesus’ triumph over the gloomy tomb.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Legibus inferni oppressis, super astra meantem,
Laudant rite Deum lux, polus, arva, fretum. 

Light, firmament, fields and sea, give justly praise to the God that defeats the laws of death, and rises above the stars.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Qui crucifixus erat Deus, ecce per omnia regnat;
Dantque creatori cuncta creata precem. 

The crucified God now reigns over all things; and every creature to its Creator tells a prayer.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Christe salus rerum, bone conditor, atque redemptor;
Unica progenies ex Dietate Patris. 

O Jesus! Savior of the world! Loving Creator and Redeemer! Only-begotten Son of God the Father!

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Qui genus humanum cernens mersum esse profundo,
ut hominem eriperes, es quoque factus homo. 

Seeing the human race was sunk in misery deep, thou wast made Man, that thou mightest rescue man.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Nec voluisti etenim tantum te corpore nasci,
Sed caro quæ nasci pertulit, atque mori. 

Nor wouldst thou be content to be born; but being born in the flesh, in the same wouldst thou suffer death.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Funeris exsequias pateris, vitæ auctor et orbis,
Intrans mortis iter, dando salutis opem. 

Thou, the author of life and of all creation, wast buried in the tomb; treading the path of death, to give us salvation.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Tristia cesserunt infernæ vincula legis,
Expavitque chaos luminis ore premi. 

The gloomful bonds of hell were broken; the abyss shook with fear, as the light shone upon its brink.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Depereunt tenebræ Christi fulgore fugatæ,
Æternæ noctis pallia crassa cadunt. 

The brightness of Christ put darkness to flight, and made to fall the thick veils of everlasting night.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Pollicitam sed redde fidem precor, alma potestas,
Tertia lux rediit, surge sepulte meus. 

But, redeem thy promise, I beseech thee, merciful King! This is the third day; arise, my buried Jesus!

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Non decet, ut vili tumulo tua membra tegantur,
Neu pretium mundi vilia saxa premant. 

’Tis not meet, that thy Body lie in the lowly tomb, or that a sepulchral stone should keep imprisoned the ransom of the world.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Lintea tolle, precor, sudaria linque sepulchro;
Tu satis es nobis, et sine te nihil est. 

Throw off thy shrouds, I pray thee! Leave thy winding-sheet in the tomb. Thou art our all; and all else, without thee, is nothing.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Solve catenatas inferni carceris umbras,
Et revoca sursum, quidquid ad ima ruit. 

Set free the spirits that are shackled in limbo’s prison. Raise up all fallen things.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Redde tuam faciem, videant ut sæcula lumen,
Redde diem, qui nos, te moriente, fugit.

Show us once more thy face, that all ages may see the light! Bring back the day, which fled when thou didst die.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Sed plane implesti remeans, pie victor, ad orbem;
Tartara pressa jacent, nec sua jura tenent. 

But thou hast done all this, O loving conqueror, by returning to our world: death lies defeated, and its rights are gone.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Inferus insaturabiliter cava guttura pandens,
Qui rapuit semper, fit tua præda, Deus. 

The greedy monster, whose huge throat had swallowed all mankind, is now thy prey, O God!

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Evomit absorptam trepide fera bellua plebem,
Et de fauce lupi subtrahit agnus oves. 

The savage beast now trembling vomits forth the victims he had made, and the lamb tears the sheep from the jaw of the wolf.

Salve, festa dies.
Hail, thou festive.

Rex sacer, ecce tui radiat pars magna triumphi,
Cum puras animas sacra lavacra beant. 

O King divine! lo! here a bright ray of thy triumph—the souls made pure by the holy font.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Candidus egreditur nitidis exercitus undis,
Atque vetus vitium purgat in amne novo. 

The white-robed troop comes from the limpid waters; and the old iniquity is cleansed in the new stream.

Salve, festa dies. 
Hail, thou festive.

Fulgentes animas vestis quoque candida signat,
Et grege de niveo gaudia pastor habet. 

The white garments symbolize unspotted souls; and the Shepherd rejoices in his snow-like flock:

Salve, festa dies, toto venerabilis ævo;
Qua Deus infernum vincit et astra tenet. 

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day! whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.

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The preparations completed, the cantors intone the majestic melody of the Introit. Meanwhile, the pontiff, accompanied by the priests, deacons, and other ministers, advances in procession to the altar steps. This opening chant is the cry of the Man-God as He rises from the tomb: it is the hymn of Jesus’ gratitude to His eternal Father.

Resurrexit, et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia: posuisti super me manum tuam, alleluia: mirabilis facta est scientia tua. Alleluia, alleluia. 
I have risen, and am as yet with thee, alleluia: thou hast stretched forth thy hand to me, alleluia: thy knowledge is become wonderful. Alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Domine, probasti me et cognovisti me: tu cognovisti sessionem meam et resurrectionem meam. ℣. Gloria Patri. Rsurrexi. 
Ps. Lord, thou hast tried me, and known me: thou hast known my sitting down and my up-rising. ℣. Glory, &c. I have risen, &c.

In the Collect, the Church proclaims the grace of immortality, which our Redeemer’s victory over death restored to mankind. She prays that her children may ambition the glorious destiny thus won for them.

Deus, qui hodierna die per Unigenitum tuum, æternitatis nobis aditum, devicta morte, reserasti: vota nostra, quæ præveniendo aspiras, etiam adjuvando prosequere. Per eumdem. 
O God, who, on this day, by thy only-begotten Son’s victory over death, didst open for us a passage to eternity; grant that our prayers, which thy preventing grace inspireth, may by thy help become effectual. Through the same, &c.

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. I. Cor. V.

Brethren: Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened: For Christ, our pasch, is sacrificed. Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Quote:God commanded the Israelites to use unleavened bread when they ate the Paschal Lamb; hereby teaching them that, before partaking of this mysterious food, they should abandon their sins, which are signified by leaven. We Christians, who are called to the new life which Jesus has created for us by His Resurrection, must, henceforth, be intent on good works, as the unleavened bread wherewith we must receive the Paschal Lamb, our Easter banquet.

The Gradual is formed of those joyous words, which the Church untiringly repeats in all her Offices of this solemnity of the Pasch. They are taken from the 117th Psalm. Joy, on such a day as this, is a duty incumbent on every Christian, both because of the triumph of our beloved Redeemer, and because of the blessings that triumph has won for us. Sadness would be a criminal protestation against the grand things, wherewith God has graced us through His Son, who not only died, but also rose from the grave, for us.

Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus et lætemur in ea. 
This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.

℣. Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in sæculum misericordia ejus. 
℣. Praise ye the Lord, for he is good: and his mercy endureth for ever.

The Alleluia-Verse expresses one of the motives we have for rejoicing: a banquet is prepared for us! Jesus is our Lamb. He was slain; now He is living: slain, that we might be redeemed by His Blood; living, that we may share His immortality.

Alleluia, alleluia. 
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. 
℣. Christ, our Pasch, is sacrificed.

The better to encourage her children to be glad, the Church adds to her ordinary chants a hymn full of enthusiastic admiration for her risen Jesus. It is called a Sequence, because it is a continuation of the Alleluia.


Victimæ paschali laudes
Immolent christiani. 

Let Christians offer to the Paschal Victim the sacrifice of praise.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores. 

The Lamb hath redeemed the sheep: the innocent Jesus hath reconciled sinners to his Father.

Mors et vita duello
Conflixere mirando:
Dux vitæ mortuus
Regnat vivus. 

Death and life fought against each other, and wondrous was the duel: the King of life was put to death; yet now he lives and reigns.

Dic nobis, Maria,
Quid vidisti in via? 

Tell us, O Mary! what sawest thou on the way?

Sepulchrum Christi viventis:
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis. 

I saw the sepulcher of the living Christ; I saw the glory of him that had risen.

Angelicos testes,
Sudarium et vestes. 

I saw the Angels that were the witnesses; I saw the winding-sheet and the cloth.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
Præcedet vos in Galilæam. 

Christ, my hope, hath risen! He shall go before you into Galilee.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
A mortuis vere;
Tu nobis victor Rex, miserere. Amen. Alleluia. 

We know that Christ hath truly risen from the dead. Do thou, O conqueror and King! have mercy upon us. Amen. Alleluia.

The Church gives her preference today to the Evangelist St. Mark, who was a disciple of St. Peter, and wrote his Gospel at Rome, under the eye of this prince of the Apostles. It was fitting that on such a festival as Easter, we should, in some manner, hear him speaking to us, whom our divine Master appointed to be the Rock of His Church, and the supreme pastor of all, both sheep and lambs.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Mark. Ch. XVI.

At that time: Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. Who saith to them: Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you.

Quote:He is risen: He is not here! The Corpse, laid by the hands of them that loved their Lord, on the slab that lies in that cave, is risen; and without removing the stone that closed the entrance, has gone forth, quickened with a life which can never die. No man has helped Him. No prophet has stood over the dead Body, bidding it return to life. It is Jesus Himself, and by His own power, that has risen. He suffered death, not from necessity, but because He so willed; and again, because He willed, He has delivered Himself from its bondage. O Jesus! Thou, that thus mockest death, art the Lord our God! We reverently bend our knee before this empty tomb, which is now forever sacred, because, for a few hours, it was the place of Thy abode. Behold the place where they laid Him! Behold the winding-sheet and bands, which remain to tell the mystery of thy having once been dead! The Angel says to the women: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified! The recollection makes us weep. Yes, it was but the day before yesterday that His Body was carried hither, mangled, wounded, bleeding. Here, in this cave, from which the Angel has now rolled back the stone—in this cave, which His presence fills with a more than mid-day brightness—stood the afflicted Mother. It echoed with the sobs of them that were at the burial, John and the two disciples, Magdalene and her companions. The sun sank beneath the horizon, and the first day of Jesus’ burial began. But the prophet had said: “In the evening weeping shall have place; and in the morning gladness.” This glorious, happy morning has come, O Jesus! and great indeed is our gladness at seeing that this same sepulcher, whither we followed Thee with aching hearts, is now but the trophy of Thy victory! Thy precious wounds are healed! It was we that caused them; permit us to kiss them. Thou art now living, more glorious than ever, and immortal. And because we resolved to die in our sins, when Thou wast dying in order to expiate them, Thou willest that we too should live eternally with Thee; that Thy victory over death should be ours; that death should be for us as it was for Thee, a mere passage to immortality, and should one day give back, uninjured and glorified, these bodies which are to be lent for a while to the tomb. Glory, then, and honor, and love, be to Thee, O Jesus! who didst deign not only to die, but to rise again for us!

The Offertory is composed of the words wherein David foretold that the earth would tremble, when the Man-God arose. This earth of ours has not only witnessed the grandest manifestations of God’s power and goodness, but, by the sovereign will of its Maker, has been frequently made to share in them, by preternatural movements.

Terra tremuit et quievit, dum resurgeret in judicio Deus, alleluia. 
The earth trembled, and was silent, when God arose in judgment, alleluia.

The whole assembly of the faithful is about to partake of the Paschal banquet; the divine Lamb invites them to it. The altar is laden with the offerings they have presented. The holy Church, in her Secret, invokes upon these favored guests the graces which will procure for them the blissful immortality whereof they are about to receive a pledge.

Suscipe, quæsumus Domine, preces populi tui cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut paschalibus initiata mysteriis, ad æternitatis nobis medelam, te operante, proficiant. 
Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of thy people, together with the offerings of these hosts: that what is consecrated by these paschal mysteries, may, by the help of thy grace, avail us to eternal life. Through, &c.

Quote:At the papal Mass, during the middle ages, while the pontiff recited the Secret, the two youngest cardinal-deacons came forward, vested in white dalmatics, and stood at each end of the altar, with their faces turned towards the people. They represented the two Angels who kept guard over our Savior’s tomb, and announced to the holy women that He had risen. The two deacons remained in that position until the pontiff left the altar at the Agnus Dei, in order to receive the holy Communion on the throne.

Another impressive custom was observed at Saint Mary Major’s. When the Pope, after breaking the Host, addressed the faithful the wish of peace, with the usual greeting of Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum, the choir did not answer the usual Et cum spiritu tuo. It was the tradition that St. Gregory the Great was once officiating in this church on Easter Sunday when, having sung these words, which bring down the Spirit of peace on the assembled people, a choir of Angels responded with such sweet melody that the singers of earth were silent, for they feared to join in the celestial music. The year following the cantors awaited the angelic response to the words of the pontiff: the favor, however, was never renewed, but the custom of not answering the Et cum spiritu tuo was observed for several centuries.

The moment has at length come for the faithful to partake of the divine Banquet. It was the practice in the ancient Church of Gaul to chant the following solemn appeal to the people, who were about to receive the Bread of life. (It was sung in cathedral churches even after the introduction of the Roman Liturgy into France by Pepin and Charlemagne. It was not entirely discontinued until the last century came with its unsanctioned and ever to be regretted innovations.) The music, which accompanied the Antiphon, is most impressive and appropriate. We give the words, as they will assist the devotion of the faithful.

Invitation of the People to Communion

Venite populi ad sacrum et immortale mysterium, et libamen agendum. 
Come, O ye people, to the sacred and immortal mystery! Come and receive the sacred libation!

Cum timore, et fide accedamus manibus mundis, pœnitentiæ munus communicemus, quoniam propter nos Agnus Dei Patris sacrificium propositum est. 
Let us approach with fear and faith, and hands undefiled. Let us unite ourselves with Him who is the reward of our repentance, for it is for us that the Lamb of God the Father offered himself in sacrifice.

Ipsum solum adoremus, ipsum glorificemus: cum Angelis clamantes, alleluia. 
Let us adore him alone, and glorify him, singing with the Angels, alleluia.

While the sacred ministers are distributing the divine Food, the Church celebrates, in her Communion-Anthem, the true Paschal Lamb, which has been mystically immolated on the altar, and requires, from them who receive it, that purity of soul, which is signified by the unleavened bread, under whose accidents the reality lies hid.

Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus, alleluia: itaque epulemur in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. 
Christ, our Pasch, is immolated, alleluia: therefore, let us feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The last prayer made by the Church for them that have received their God is that the spirit of fraternal charity, which is the spirit of our Pasch, may abide in them. The Son of God, by assuming our nature in the mystery of the Incarnation, has made us to be His brothers; by shedding His Blood for us upon the Cross, He has united us to one another by the bond of the redemption; and by His resurrection, He has linked us together in one glorious immortality.

Spiritum nobis, Domine, tuæ charitatis infunde: ut quos sacramentis paschalibus satiasti, tua facias pietate concordes. Per Dominum. 
Pour forth on us, O Lord, the spirit of thy love; that those whom thou hast filled with the Paschal Sacrament, may, by thy goodness, live in perfect concord. Through, &c.

The pontiff then gives his blessing to the people. They leave the House of God, to return thither for the Vespers, which most solemn Office will conclude the magnificent functions of our solemnity.

At Rome, the Pope descends from the throne, wearing his triple crown. He ascends the sedia gestatoria, which is borne on the shoulders of the servants of the palace, and is carried to the great nave. Having reached the appointed place, he descends and humbly kneels down. Then, from the tribune of the cupola, are shown by priests, vested in their stoles, the wood of the true Cross, and the Veil, called the Veronica, on which is impressed the face of our Redeemer. This commemoration of the sufferings and humiliations of the Man-God, at the very moment when His triumph over death has been celebrated with all the pomp of the Liturgy, eloquently proclaims the glory and power of our risen Jesus, and shows us how faithfully and how lovingly He fulfilled the mission He had so graciously taken upon Himself, of working our salvation. It was on this very day that He Himself said to the disciples of Emmaus: “Thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead the third day.” The Christian world, in the person of its supreme pastor, hereby pays its homage to the sufferings and glory of its Redeemer. The pontiff then resumes the triple Crown, and is carried, on the sedia, to the balcony, where he gives the papal benediction to the people assembled in the piazza of Saint Peter’s. We have already described this solemn rite.

Formerly, when the Lateran palace was the papal residence, and the Station of Easter Sunday was held at Saint Mary Major’s, the sovereign Pontiff, vested in a cope and wearing the tiara, went to the basilica on a horse caparisoned in white. After the Mass, he proceeded to the banquet hall, called the Triclinium Leonianum. It was built by St. Leo III and was decorated with mosaics representing Christ, St. Peter, Constantine and Charlemagne. A repast was prepared, to which were invited, as guests of the pontiff, five cardinals, five deacons, and the first in dignity (the Primicerius) of the clergy attached to the church of St. John Lateran. Near to the Pope’s own table, a seat was prepared for a twelfth guest—the prior, called basilicarius. The Paschal Lamb was then served up, laid on a rich dish. The Pope blessed it, and thus signified that the severe law of abstinence was at an end. He himself cut it into portions and sent one to each of his guests; but first of all he cut off a small piece, and gave it to the basilicarius, saying to him what would have seemed a harsh allusion, but for the words that followed: “What thou hast to do, do quickly! But what was said as a condemnation, I say to thee as a pardon.” The repast began with joyous conversation; but after some time, the archdeacon gave a signal, and a deacon began to read. The papal choristers were afterwards introduced, and sang such of the favorite sequences as the Pope called for. This done, the choristers kissed the feet of the pontiff, who gave to each of them a cup full of wine from his own table; and each received a piece of money, called a besant, from the treasurer.

Our object in mentioning such customs as this is to show our readers the simple manners of the middle ages. The custom of blessing and eating lamb on Easter Sunday still continues, though in many instances it conveys very little meaning. For those who, from idle pretexts, have scarcely observed a day’s abstinence during the whole of Lent, the Paschal lamb is a reproach, rather than a consolation. We here give the blessing as a completion to our Easter rites. The venerable prayer, used by the Church, will take us back in thought to other ages and prompt us to ask of God that He will grant us a return to the simple and practical faith which gave such soul and grandeur to the every-day life of our Catholic forefathers.

Blessing of the Paschal Lamb

Deus, qui per famulum tuum Moysen, in liberatione populi tui de Egypto, agnum occidi jussisti in similitudinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et utrosque postes domorum de sanguine ejusdem agni perungi præcepisti: ita benedicere, et sanctificare digneris hanc creaturam carnis, quam nos famuli tui ad laudem tuam sumere desideramus, per resurrectionem ejusdem Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. 

O God, who, on the deliverance of thy people from Egypt, didst command, by thy servant Moses, that a lamb should be slain as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and didst ordain that both side-posts of the houses should be sprinkled with its blood: vouchsafe also to bless and sanctify this creature of flesh, which we thy servants desire to eat for thy glory, and in honor of the Resurrection of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, for ever and ever. Amen.

The law of Lent forbids not only flesh-meat, but also eggs. It is only by a dispensation that we are allowed to eat them during that holy season of penance. The Churches of the east have strictly maintained the ancient discipline on this point, and no dispensation is admitted. Here again, the faithful show their joy, by asking the Church to bless the eggs that are to appear at their Easter repast. The following is the prayer used for this blessing.

Blessing of the Paschal Eggs

Subveniat, quæsumus Domine, tuæ benedictionis gratia huic ovorum creaturæ: ut cibus salubris fiat fidelibus tuis in tuarum gratiarum actione sumentibus, ob resurrectionem Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
We beseech thee, O Lord, to give the favor of thy blessing to these eggs; that so they may be a wholesome food to thy faithful, who gratefully take them in honor of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yes, let our Easter repast, blessed as it is by our mother the Church, be one of joy, and add to the gladness of this great day! The Feasts of religion should always be kept as feasts by Christian families: but there is not one throughout the year that can be compared to this of Easter, which we have waited for so long and in such sorrow, and which has at length come, bringing with it the riches of God’s pardon, and the hope of our immortality.


The day is fast advancing, and Jesus has not yet shown Himself to His Disciples. The holy women are overpowered with joy and gratitude at the favour they have received. They have told it to the Apostles, assuring them that not only have they seen angels, but Jesus Himself; that He has spoken to them; that they have kissed His sacred feet. But all their assurances fail to convince these men, who are oppressed with what they have seen of their Master’s Passion. They are cruelly disappointed, and their disappointment makes them deaf to every thing, that speaks of consolation. And yet, we shall soon find them laying down their very lives in testimony of the Resurrection of that Master, whose name and remembrance is now a humiliation to them.

We may form some idea of their feelings, from the conversation of two who have been spending a part of the day with them, and who themselves were Disciples of Jesus. This very evening, whilst returning to Emmaus, they thus express their disappointment: “We hoped that Jesus would have redeemed Israel: and now besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company affrighted us; who, before it was light, were at the sepulcher; and not finding His body, came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who say that He is alive. And some of our people went to the sepulcher, and found it so as the women had said; but Him they found not.” (Luke 24:21-24) How strange, that the Resurrection of which Jesus had so often spoken to them, even in the presence of the Jews, does not recur to their minds! They were still carnal-minded men, and the awful fact of His death stifles within them every idea of that new birth, which our bodies are to receive in the tomb.

But our Risen Jesus must now show Himself to these men, who are to preach His divinity to the furthest ends of the world. So far, His manifestations have been made to satisfy His affection for His Blessed Mother, and His infinite love for those souls, that had done all in their power to testify their gratitude towards Him. It is now time for Him to provide for His own glory: at least, so it would seem to us. But no; having rewarded those that love Him, He would now show the generosity of His Heart; and then, after this, proclaim His triumph. The Apostolic College, of which every member fled at the hour of danger, has seen its very head so forgetful of His duty as to deny His Divine Master. But, from the moment when Jesus cast upon his Disciples a look of reproach and pardon, Peter has done nothing but shed bitter tears over his fall. Jesus would now console the humble penitent; tell Him, with His own lips, that He has pardoned him; and confirm, by this mark of His divine predilection, the sublime prerogatives that He so recently conferred upon Him, in the presence of all the other Apostles. As yet, Peter doubts of the Resurrection; Magdalene’s testimony has not convinced him: but now, that his offended Master is about to appear to him, his Faith will acknowledge the grand mystery.

We have already heard the angel sending Jesus’ message by the three women: “Go, said he, tell His Disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee.” (Mark 16:7) Why this express mention of Peter, but that he may know, that although he has denied Jesus, Jesus has not denied him? Why is he not, on this occasion, mentioned before the others, except to spare him the humiliation of the contrast between his high position and the unworthy conduct he has shown? But this special mention of his name tells him that he is still dear to Jesus, and that he will soon have an opportunity of expiating his sin, by expressing his regret and repentance at the very feet of his ever-loving, and now glorified, Master. Yes, Peter is tardy in believing; but his conversion is sincere, and Jesus would reward it.

Suddenly, then, in the course of this afternoon, the Apostle sees standing before him that Divine Master, whom, three days previously, he had beheld bound and led away by the servants of Caiphas. This Jesus is now resplendent with light; he is the Conqueror, the glorious Messias: and yet, what most affects the Apostle, is the ineffable goodness of this his Lord, who comes to console him, rather than to show him the splendours of His Resurrection. Who could describe the interview between the penitent and his offended Master; the sorrow of Peter, now that he finds himself treated with such generosity; the loving pardon which comes from Jesus’ lips, and fills the Apostle’s heart with paschal joy? Blessed be thy name, O Jesus! who thus raisest up, from his fall, him whom Thou art to leave us for our Chief Pastor and Father, when thou ascendest into heaven!

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It is, indeed, just that we adore the infinite mercy which dwells in the Heart of our Risen Jesus, and which He shows with the same profusion and power, as during His mortal life: but let us, also, admire how, by this visit, He continues, in St. Peter, the mystery of the Unity of the Church — a mystery which is to be perpetuated in this Apostle and his successors. At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke these words to him, in the presence of the other Apostles: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32) The time is now come for establishing Peter in this faith, which is never to fail: Jesus gives it to him. He himself instructs Peter; He makes him the foundation of His Church. In a few hours hence, He will manifest Himself to the other Apostles; but Peter will be present with his Brethren. Thus, if Peter receive favours not granted to the rest, they never receive any but he has a share in them. It is their duty to believe on Peter’s word; they do so. On Peter’s testimony, they believe in the Resurrection, and proclaim it to others, as we shall soon see. Jesus is to appear likewise to them; for He loves them; He calls them His Brethren; He has chosen them to be the preachers of His name throughout the world: but He will find them already instructed in the faith of His Resurrection, because they have believed Peter’s testimony; and Peter’s testimony has effected in them the mystery of that Unity, which he will effect in the Church to the end of time.

Jesus’ apparition to the Prince of the Apostles rests on the authority of St. Luke’s Gospel (Luke 24:34) and St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 15:5) It is the fourth of those that took place on the day of the Resurrection.


The Day of Jesus’ Resurrection is fast drawing to its close. It is the day honoured by God with the greatest of all miracles: it is the most important day that has ever dawned upon the world since Light was first created: but the night will soon be upon us, shadowing the brightness of the great day. Four times has our Redeemer appeared. He would now manifest Himself to the whole of His Apostles, and thus enable them to know by their own experience what they have, a few hours since, learned from Peter’s testimony. But, leaving, for a few moments longer, these men, whom He honours with the name of Brethren, and who now believe in His Resurrection, He would first console two hearts that are grieving on His account, though their grief comes from their want of faith.

Two men are traversing the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, slowly and sadly. They are evidently suffering from some cruel disappointment; nay, they give one the idea that a motive of fear impels them to leave the city. They had been Disciples of Jesus; but the ignominious and violent death of this Master, in whom they had had such confidence, has filled their hearts with bitter despondency. They were ashamed of having joined themselves with one who is not what they took Him to be. They had hid themselves after His execution; but the report having been spread of His sepulcher having been broken into, and the Body taken away, they resolve to seek a safer refuge. Jesus’ enemies have great power, and are doubtless busy taking proceedings against those who have dared to break the seal of the sepulcher. Perhaps all that have had any connection with this Jesus will be arraigned before the public tribunal.

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Whilst thus conferring with each other on the sad events of the last few days, a stranger overtakes them and walks with them. It is Jesus. So absorbed are they in their own sorrow, that they do not recognize Him. The same happens to us, when we give way to feelings of human grief, we lose sight of that God who comes to cheer us by His presence along the path of our exile. Jesus asks these two men the cause of their sadness. They tell Him with all simplicity, and this King of glory, who has, this very day, triumphed over Death, deigns to enter into a long conversation with them, and explain to them, as they walk along, the scriptural prophecies concerning the humiliations, the death, and the glory of the Messias. The two wayfarers are delighted with His words. As they afterwards said to each other, their hearts burned within them as this stranger went on telling them the grand truths He did. Jesus feigns to bid them farewell, but they will not hear of it: “Stay with us,” they say to Him, “for the evening cometh on, and the day is far spent!” (Luke 24:29) They take Him into their house at Emmaus, constrain Him to sit down to table with them, and yet, strange to say, they have not an idea who this Heavenly Instructor is, who has solved all their doubts with such persuasive wisdom and eloquence! — Do not we resemble these two disciples, when we allow ourselves to be influenced by human thoughts and feelings? Jesus is near us, He speaks to us, He instructs us, He consoles us; and yet, oftentimes, we are long before we recognize Him!

At length, Jesus makes Himself known to our two incredulous Disciples. They have placed Him at the head of the table; it is for Him to break the bread. He takes it into His divine hands, as He did at the Last Supper; and no sooner has He divided the bread, and given them their portion, than their eyes are opened, and they recognize their guest as Jesus, the Risen Jesus. They would throw themselves at His feet — but He has disappeared, leaving them mute with surprise, and yet transported with exceeding joy. It is the fifth apparition. It is described by St. Luke, and forms the Gospel of tomorrow’s Mass.

The two disciples cannot wait: though so late in the evening, they must hurry back to Jerusalem, and tell the Apostles that their Master is living, that they have seen Him, and talked with Him. They, therefore, leave Emmaus, where they thought to pass the night, and are soon back in the City they had tremblingly fled from. They are soon with the Apostles, — but they find them already aware of the glad tidings, and fervent in their faith of the Resurrection. Before they had time to open their lips, the Apostles exclaim: “The Lord hath truly risen, and hath appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:34) The two disciples then relate what has just happened to themselves.

Such was the conversation of the Apostles, — men now unknown, but whose names are, in a short time hence, to be published and loved throughout the whole universe. The doors of the house, where the little flock is assembled, are kept carefully closed, for they are afraid of being discovered. The soldiers, who had kept watch at the sepulcher, went early this morning to the chief priests, and told them what had happened. They were, hereupon, bribed to perjure themselves, and say that, whilst they were asleep, the disciples of Jesus came and took away the Body. The Jewish authorities hereby hoped to screen themselves from confusion; but such a plot was likely to excite the people’s indignation against the Apostles, and these thought it necessary to take precautions. Ten of them are now together in the house; for Thomas, who was present when the two disciples came in from Emmaus, had taken the opportunity, afforded by the darkness of the hour, to go forth into the city.

The Apostles, then, were speaking to one another of the great events of this day, when lo! Jesus stands before them, and yet the door has not been opened. That well-known voice and figure and Face! — oh yes, it is Jesus! He speaks to them with an accent of tenderest love, and says: “Peace be to you!” (John 20:19) What could they say? This sadden and mysterious visit robs them of self-possession. They have no ideas yet of the qualities of a glorified body; and, though firmly believing in the mystery of their Lord’s Resurrection, they are not quite sure but that what they now behold is a phantom. Jesus knows this. During the whole day, He seems to have been more anxious to show His love than proclaim His glory; and therefore, He permits them to touch Him; yea, in order to convince them of the reality of His divine Body, He asks them to give Him to eat, and He eats in their presence. This loving familiarity of their Master makes them weep with joy, and when Thomas returns to them, they express their delight in these simple words: “We have seen the Lord!” (John 20:25) It was the sixth Apparition of Jesus on the day of His Resurrection. It is related in the Gospel of St. John, and is read in the Mass of Low Sunday.

Be Thou blessed and glorified, O Conqueror of death! for that, on this day, Thou didst six times appear to Thy creatures, so to content Thy love, and confirm our faith in Thy Resurrection! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having consoled Thy afflicted Mother by Thy clear presence and caresses! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having, with a single word of Thine, brought joy to Magdalene’s heart! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having gladdened the holy women, and permitted them to kiss Thy sacred feet! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having, with Thine own lips, given Peter the assurance of his pardon, and for having confirmed in him the gifts of primacy, by revealing to him, before all others, the fundamental dogma of faith! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having encouraged the drooping confidence of the two disciples of Emmaus, and for Thy revealing Thyself to them! Be Thou blessed and glorified for having visited Thine Apostles, and removed all their doubts by thy loving condescension! And, lastly, O Jesus! be Thou blessed and glorified for that, on this day, Thou hast so mercifully given us, by Thy holy Church, to share in the joy of Thy holy Mother, of Magdalene and her companions, of Peter, of the disciples of Emmaus, and of Thine Apostles! This year’s Easter is as full of reality and life and joy, yea, and of Thyself, as was that whereon Thou didst rise from the grave. All times and seasons belong to Thee: and as the material world has ever been supported by Thy power, so the spiritual lives by Thy Mysteries. Praise, then, and honour, and benediction, be to Thee, O Jesus! for Thy Resurrection, which makes this day the grandest and gladdest of the year!

Let us today celebrate the first of the six days of the Creation — namely, the Sunday when Light was made at the sovereign bidding of the Word of God. This Word is the uncreated Light of the Father, and He began His work of Creation by calling: into existence this material image of His own brightness. He himself calls the just, Children of Light; and sinners, Children of Darkness. When He took Flesh and showed Himself to men, He said to them: “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth one, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.” (John 8:12) And lastly — to show us that there exists a sacred harmony between the two orders of Nature and Grace, He rose from the gloomy sepulcher on that same day whereon He had created that visible Light which is to us the most precious of material blessings.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Resurrection ~ Mystical City of God
by Mary of Agreda

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The fullness of wisdom in the soul of our great Queen and Lady amid all her sorrows permitted no defect or remissness in noticing and attending to all the duties of each occasion and at all times. By this heavenly foresight She met her obligations and practiced the highest and most eminent of all the virtues. As I have said, the Queen retired, after the burial of Christ, to the house of the Cenacle. Remaining in the hall of the last Supper in the company of saint John, the Marys, and the other women who had followed Christ from Galilee, She spoke to them and the Apostle, thanking them in profound humility and abundant tears for persevering with Her up to this time throughout the Passion of her beloved Son and promising them in his name the reward of having followed Him with so much constancy and devotion. At the same time She offered Herself as a servant and as a friend to those holy women. All of them with Saint John acknowledged this great favor, kissed her hands and asked for her blessing. They also begged her to take some rest and some bodily refreshment. But the Queen answered: “My rest and my consolation shall be to see my Son and Lord arisen from the dead. Do you, my dearest friends, satisfy our wants according to your necessities, while I retire alone with my Son.” In her retirement during this evening the great Lady contemplated the doings of the most holy soul of her Son after it left the sacred body. For from the first the blessed Mother knew that the soul of Christ, united to the Divinity, descended to limbo in order to release the holy Fathers from the subterranean prison, where they had been detained since the death of the first just man that had died in expectance of the advent of the Redeemer of the whole human race. By the presence of the most holy Soul this obscure cavern was converted into a heaven and was filled with a wonderful splendor; and to the souls therein contained was imparted the clear vision of the Divinity. In one instant they passed from the state of long–deferred hope to the possession of glory, and from darkness to the inaccessible light, which they now began to enjoy. All of them recognized their true God and Redeemer, and gave him thanks and glory, breaking forth in canticles of praise saying: “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and Divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and benediction. Thou hast redeemed us, Lord, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth (Apoc. 59, 12). Thine is, O Lord, the power, thine the reign, and thine is the glory of thy works.” Then the Lord commanded the angels to bring all the souls in purgatory, and this was immediately done. As if in earnest of the human Redemption they were absolved then and there by the Redeemer from the punishments still due to them, and they were glorified with the other souls of the just by the beatific vision. Thus on that day of the presence of the King were depopulated the prisonhouses of both limbo and purgatory.

The divine soul of Christ our Redeemer remained in limbo from half past three of Friday afternoon, until after three of the Sunday morning following. During this hour He returned to the Sepulchre as the victorious Prince of the angels and of the saints, whom had delivered from those nether prisons as Spoils of His victory and as an earnest of His glorious triumph over the chastised and prostrate rebels of hell. In the sepulchre were many angels as its guard, venerating the sacred body united to the Divinity. Some of them, obeying the command of their Queen and Mistress, had gathered the relics of the sacred blood shed by her divine Son, the particles of flesh scattered about, the hair torn from his divine face and head, and all else that belonged to the perfection and integrity of his most sacred humanity. On these the Mother of prudence lavished her solicitous care. The angels took charge of these relics, each one filled with joy at being privileged to hold the particles, which he was able to secure. Before any change was made, the body of the Redeemer was shown to the holy Fathers, in the same wounded, lacerated and disfigured state in which it was left by the cruelty of the Jews. Beholding Him thus disfigured in death, the Patriarchs and Prophets and other saints adored Him and again confessed Him as the incarnate Word, who had truly taken upon Himself our infirmities and sorrows (Is. 53, 4) and paid abundantly our debts, satisfying in his innocence and guiltlessness for what we ourselves owed to the justice of the eternal Father. There did our first parents Adam and Eve see the havoc wrought by their disobedience, the priceless remedy it necessitated, the immense goodness and mercy of the Redeemer. As they felt the effects of his copious Redemption in the glory of their souls, they praised anew the Omnipotent and Saints of saints, who had with such marvelous wisdom wrought such a salvation.

Then, in the presence of all those saints, through the ministry of those angels, were united to the sacred body all the relics, which they had gathered, restoring it to its natural perfection and integrity. In the same moment the most holy soul reunited with the body, giving it immortal life and glory. Instead of the winding–sheets and the ointments, in which it had been buried, it was clothed with the four gifts of glory, namely: with clearness, impassibility, agility and subtility (John 19, 40). These gifts overflowed from the immense glory of the soul of Christ into the sacred body. Although these gifts were due to it as a natural inheritance and participation from the instant of its conception, because from that very moment his soul was glorified and his whole humanity was united to the Divinity; yet they had been suspended in their effects upon the purest body, in order to permit it to remain passable and capable of meriting for us our own glory. In the Resurrection these gifts were justly called into activity in the proper degree corresponding to the glory of his soul and to his union with the Divinity. As the glory of the most holy soul of Christ our Savior is incomprehensible and ineffable to man, it is also impossible entirely to describe in our words or by our examples the glorious gifts of his deified body; for in comparison to its purity, crystal would be obscure. The light inherent and shining forth from his body so far exceeds that of the others, as the day does the night, or as many suns the light of one star; and all the beauty of creatures, if it were joined, would appear ugliness in comparison with his, nothing else being comparable to It in all creation.

The excellence of these gifts in the Resurrection were far beyond the glory of his Transfiguration or that manifested on other occasions of the kind men mentioned in this history. For on these occasions He received it transitorily and for special purposes, while now He received it in plenitude and forever. Through impassibility his body became invincible to all created power, since no power can ever move or change Him. By subtility the gross and earthly matter was so purified, that it could now penetrate other matter like a pure spirit. Accordingly He penetrated through the rocks of the sepulchre without removing or displacing them, as He had issued forth from the womb of his most blessed Mother. Agility so freed Him from the weight and slowness of matter, that it exceeded the agility of the immaterial angels, while He himself could move about more quickly than they, as shown in his apparitions to the Apostles and on other occasions. The sacred wounds, which had disfigured his body, now shone forth from his hands and feet and side so refulgent and brilliant, that they added a most entrancing beauty and charm. In all this glory and heavenly adornment the Savior now arose from the grave; and in the presence of the saints and Patriarchs He promised universal resurrection in their own flesh and body to all men, and that they moreover, as an effect of his own Resurrection, should be similarly glorified. As an earnest and as a pledge of the universal resurrection, the Lord commanded the souls of many saints there present to reunite with their bodies and rise up to immortal life. Immediately this divine command was executed, and their bodies arose, as is mentioned by saint Matthew, in anticipation of this mystery (Matthew 27, 52). Among them were saint Anne, saint Joseph and saint Joachim, and others of the ancient Fathers and Patriarchs, who had distinguished themselves in the faith and hope of the Incarnation, and had desired and prayed for it with greater earnestness to the Lord. As a reward for their zeal, the resurrection and glory of their bodies was now anticipated.

Of all these mysteries the great Queen of heaven was aware and She participated in them from her retreat in the Cenacle. In the same instant in which the most holy soul of Christ entered and gave life to his body the joy of her immaculate soul, which I mentioned in the foregoing chapter as being restrained and, as it were, withheld, overflowed into her immaculate body. And this overflow was so exquisite in its effects, that She was transformed from sorrow to joy, from pain to delight from grief to ineffable jubilation and rest. It happened that just at this time the Evangelist John, as he had done on the previous morning, stepped in to visit and console Her in her bitter solitude, and thus unexpectedly, in the midst of splendor and glory, met Her whom he had before scarcely recognized on account of her overwhelming sorrow. The Apostle now beheld Her with wonder and deepest reverence and concluded that the Lord had risen, since his blessed Mother was thus transfigured with joy.

In this new joy and under the divine influences of her supernatural vision the great Lady began to prepare herself for the visit of the Lord, which was near at hand. While eliciting acts of praise, and in her canticles and prayers, She immediately felt within Her a new kind of jubilation and celestial delight, reaching far beyond the first joy, and corresponding in a wonderful manner to the sorrows and tribulations She had undergone in the Passion; and this new favor was different and much more exalted than the joys overflowing naturally from her soul into her body. Moreover She perceived within Herself another third and still more different effect, implying new divine favors.

The blessed Mary being thus prepared, Christ our Savior, arisen and glorious, in the company of all Saints and Patriarchs, made his appearance. The ever humble Queen prostrated Herself upon the ground and adored her divine Son; and the Lord raised Her and drew Her to Himself. In this contact, which was more intimate than the contact with the humanity and the wounds of the Savior sought by Magdalen, the Virgin Mother participated in an extraordinary favor, which She alone, as exempt from sin, could merit. Although it was not the greatest of the favors She attained on this occasion, yet She could not have received it without failing of her faculties, if She had not been previously strengthened by the angels and by the Lord himself. This favor was, that the glorious body of the Son so closely united itself to that of his purest Mother, that He penetrated into it or She into his, as when, for instance, a crystal globe takes up within itself the light of the sun and is saturated with the splendor and beauty of its light. In the same way the body of the most holy Mary entered into that of her divine Son by this heavenly embrace; it was, as it were, the portal of her intimate knowledge concerning the glory of the holy soul and body of her Lord. As a consequence of these favors, constituting higher and higher degrees of ineffable gifts, the spirit of the Virgin Mother rose to the knowledge of the most hidden sacraments. In the midst of them She heard a voice saying to Her: “My beloved, ascend higher!” (Luke 18, 10). By the power of these words She was entirely transformed and saw the Divinity clearly and intuitively, wherein She found complete, though only temporary, rest and reward for all her sorrows and labors. Silence alone here is proper, since reason and language are entirely inadequate to comprehend or express what passed in the blessed Mary during this beatific vision, the highest She had until then enjoyed. Let us celebrate this day in wonder and praise, with congratulations and loving and humble thanks for what She then merited for us, and for her exaltation and joy.

For some hours the heavenly Princess continued to enjoy the essence of God with her divine Son, participating now in his triumph as She had in his torments. Then by similar degrees She again descended from this vision and found Herself in the end reclining on the right arm of the most sacred humanity and regaled in other ways by the right hand of his Divinity (Cant. 2, 6). She held sweetest converse with her Son concerning the mysteries of his Passion and of his glory. In these conferences She was again inebriated with the wine of love and charity, which now She drank unmeasured from the original fount. All that a mere creature can receive was conferred upon the blessed Mary on this occasion; for, according to our way of conceiving such things, the divine equity wished to compensate the injury (thus I must call it, because I cannot find a more proper word), which a Creature so pure and immaculate had undergone in suffering the sorrows and torments of the Passion. For, as I have mentioned many times before, She suffered the same pains as her Son, and now in this mystery She was inundated with a proportionate joy and delight.

The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain

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Each of these gifts are correspondingly augmented in him who in the state of grace performs the least meritorious work, even if it be no more than removing a straw or giving a cup of water for the love of God (Matth. 10, 42). For each of the most insignificant works the creature gains an increase of these gifts; an increase of clearness exceeding many times the sunlight and added to its state of blessedness an increase of impassibility, by which man recedes from human and earthly corruption farther than what all created efforts and strength could ever effect in resistance separating itself from such infirmity or changefulness; an increase of subtility, by which he advances beyond all that could offer it resistance and gains new power of penetration; an increase of agility, surpassing all the activity of birds, of winds, and all other active creatures, such as fire and the elements tending to their centre. 

From this increase of the gifts of the body merited by good works, thou wilt understand the augmentation of the gifts of the soul; for those of the body are derived from those of the soul and correspond with them. In the beatific vision each merit secures greater clearness and insight into the divine attributes and perfections than that acquired by all the doctors and enlightened members of the Church. Likewise the gift of apprehension, or possession of the divine Object, is augmented; for the security of the possession of the highest and infinite Good makes the tranquility and rest of its enjoyment more estimable than if the soul possessed all that is precious and rich, desirable and worthy of attainment in all creation, even if possessed all at one time. Fruition, the third gift of the soul, on account of the love with which man performs the smallest acts, so exalts the degrees of functional love, that the greatest love of men here on earth can never be compared thereto; nor can the delight resulting therefrom ever be compared with all the delights of this mortal life.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Fr. Hewko Easter Sunday Sermons

Easter Midnight Mass [April 21, 2019] 

Easter Sunday [April 17, 2022]

Easter Sunday - April 9, 2023

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Golden Legend 
The Resurrection

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Here beginneth the Resurrection.

Heretofore we have made mention of deviation of the human lineage, which dureth from Septuagesima unto Easter. Hereafter we shall make mention of the time of reconciliation.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesu Christ was the third day after his death. And of this blessed resurrection seven things be to be considered. First, of the time that he was in the sepulchre, that be three days and three nights he was in the sepulchre, and the third day he arose. Secondly, wherefore he arose not anon when he was dead, but abode unto the third day. Thirdly, how he arose. Fourthly, wherefore his resurrection tarried not until the general resurrection. Fifthly, wherefore he arose. Sixthly, how ofttimes he appeared in his resurrection. And the seventh, how the holy fathers which were enclosed in a part of hell he delivered, and what he did, etc. As to the first point, it ought to be known that Jesus was in the sepulchre three days and three nights. But, after S. Austin, the first day is taken by synechdoche, that is that the last part of the day is taken which dureth from Easter unto the utas of Whitsuntide, like as holy Church hath ordained. The second day is taken all whole. The third is taken after the first part of the day.

Thus there be three days, and every day hath his night going before. And after Bede the order of the day was changed, and the course ordained, for before, the days went before and the nights followed, after the time of the passion that order was changed, for the nights go before, and this is by mystery. For man first overthrew in the day and fell into the night of sin. And by the passion and resurrection of Jesu Christ he came again from the night of sin unto the day of grace. As touching the second consideration, it ought to be known that it is according to reason that anon after his death he ought not to arise, but ought to abide unto the third day, and for five reasons. The first for the signification to that that the light of his death should cure our double death, and therefore one day whole and two nights, he lay in the sepulchre, that by the day we understand the light of his death, and by the two nights our double death. And this reason assigneth the gloss upon S. Luke, Luce vicesimo upon this text. Oportebat Christum pati, etc. The second for certain probation. For right so as in the mouth of twain or of three is the witness established, right so in three days is proved all deed and fait veritable. And to the end to prove that his death was veritable, he would lie therein three days. The third for to show his puissance; for if he had arisen anon, it should seem that he had not such might for to give him life as he had to raise him. And this reason toucheth the Apostle ad Corinthios xv. Therefore is there first made mention of his death. Like as his death was verily showed so his very resurrection is showed and declared. Fourthly, for to figure the restoration. And this reason assigneth Petrus Ravenensis: Jesu Christ would be three days in his sepulchre in figure, in benefit doing. That is to wit, to restore them that be fallen, to repair them that be in the earth, and to redeem them that were in hell. The fifth, for the representing of treble estate of rightful men. And this reason assigneth S. Gregory upon Ezechiel saying: The sixth day of the week Jesus suffered death, the Saturday he lay in the sepulchre, the Sunday he arose. The present life is yet to us the sixth day, for in anguishes and sorrows we be tormented. The Saturday also is that we rest us in our sepulchre, for after the death we shall find the rest for our souls. The Sunday is the eighth day. That day we shall be free of the death and of all sorrow in body and in soul in glory. Then the sixth day is to us sorrow, the seventh rest, and the eighth glory.

As to the third consideration, how he arose, it appeareth verily that he arose mightily. For by his proper might he arose, Johannis nono: Potestatem habeo, etc. I have said I have power to deliver my soul and I have power to resume it again. That is to say to die when I will. Secondly, he arose joyously, for he took away all misery, all infirmity, and all servitude. Whereof he saith the gospel of John, Johannis xxvi., he said: When I shall arise again I shall advance me and go tofore you into Galilee, where ye shall see me free and delivered. Galilee is as much to say as transmigration, that is to say dying. Jesu Christ then, when he arose, went before us, for he went from misery to glory, and from corruption to incorruption. Whereof S. Leo the Pope saith: After the passion of Jesu Christ, the bonds of death broken, he was transported from infirmity to virtue, from mortality to perpetuity, and from villainy to glory. Thirdly, he rose profitably, for he carried with him his prey. Whereof saith Jeremy the fourth chapter, Ascendit leo de cubili, etc. The lion is risen out of his bed. Jesus ascended on high upon the cross, and the robber of the people enhanced himself. Jesu Christ robbed hell, wherein was the human lineage. As he had said: Cum exaltatus fuero, etc. When I shall ascend on high I shall draw to me all mine of whom hell hath holden and kept the souls, which were enclosed in darkness and the bodies in sepulture. Fourthly, he arose marvellously. For he arose without opening of the sepulchre which abode fast closed. For like as he issued out of his mother's belly, and to his disciples, the doors closed and shut, so he issued out of his sepulchre. Whereof is read in Scholastica Historia, of a monk of S. Laurence without the walls, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord one thousand one hundred and eleven, which marvelled of a girdle with which he was girt, that without undoing or opening it was cast tofore him. Whereof when he saw it he marvelled, and he heard a voice in the air saying: Thus may Jesu Christ issue out of his sepulchre, and the sepulchre all closed. Fifthly, he arose truly, for he arose in his proper body, and by six manners he showed that he was verily risen. First, by the angel which lied not. Secondly, by many and ofttimes appearing. Thirdly, by eating openly and by no art fantastic. Fourthly, by palpation of his very body. Fifthly, by ostention of his wounds, by which he showed that it was the proper body in which he had verily suffered death. Sixthly, by his presence in coming into the house, the gates shut, when he entered suddenly and invisibly, by which he showed that his body was glorified. Seventhly, he arose immortally, for he shall never die, Johannis vi.: Christus resurgens, etc.

And S. Denis in an epistle that he made to Demophilus saith that Jesu Christ after his ascension said to an holy man named Carpo, I am all ready yet to suffer for to save man; by which it seemeth that if it were need, that yet he were ready to suffer death as it is contained in the same epistle. This holy man, Carpo, told to S. Denis that a paynim perverted a Christian man and brought him out of the faith. And this Carpo took such anger therefore in his heart that he was sick. And this Carpo was of so great holiness that as oft as he sang mass an heavenly vision appeared to him. But when he should pray for the conversion of them both daily, he prayed God that both twain might be burnt in a fire. And on a time about midnight he made this prayer unto God, and suddenly the house in which he was in, was divided in two parts, and a right great furnace appeared there. And he looked up and beheld the heaven, and saw it open, and Jesu Christ which was environed with a great multitude of angels, and beside the furnace these two men were trembling for great dread that they had; the which men were bitten of serpents that issued out of the furnace, which drew them by force into the furnace; and also of other men they were reproved and villained. And this holy man Carpo in beholding them had great delight, and took pleasaunce in their punition; in such wise that he left the vision of heaven and set not thereby, but was angry that they fell not suddenly into the furnace. And then as he looked up into heaven, he saw the vision that he had before seen. And Jesu Christ which had pity of these two men arose up out of his throne, and came unto them with a great multitude of angels, and put forth his hand and delivered them. And Jesus said to Carpo: Smite me, from henceforth I am ready to suffer for to save man. This ensample reciteth S. Denis. 

As to the fourth article, wherefore he abode not until the general resurrection, three reasons be assigned. The first for the dignity of his body, for he was deified and came from the Deity, and therefore it was no reason that his body should so long lie in the earth. Whereof David saith, Non dabis sanctum tuum videre corruptionem: Thou shalt not suffer thine holy body to see corruption. The second reason is for the steadfastness of the faith. For if he had not then arisen, the faith had perished, men would not have believed that he had been very God. And that appeareth well, for in his passion, save our Lady, all lost faith. But when they had knowledge of his resurrection they recovered it again, as saith S. Paul, Si Christus non surrexerit vane est fides nostra: If Jesu Christ had not risen our faith had been vain or none. The third cause for the exemplar of our resurrection: there should be but few that should believe the resurrection to come if Jesu Christ had not risen. And this is our example and our hope. And therefore say the apostles, Jesu Christ is arisen and we shall arise, for his resurrection is cause of ours. Whereof saith S. Gregory: Our Lord by example hath showed that he promised in reward, as that we should know him to have risen. Thus in ourself we should have hope of the reward of his resurrection, and we ought to know that Jesu Christ would not prolong his resurrection above three days, to the end that desperation should not be in the world. 

As to the fifth article, it is wherefore he arose. He arose for four things much profitable to us; for his resurrection made the justification of our sins. She enseigneth new life of manners, she engendereth the hope of reward, and ordaineth the resurrection of all. Of the first saith S. Paul ad Romanos: Jesu Christ died for our sins and arose for to justify us. Of the second: Like as Jesu Christ arose by the glory of the Father, which is a new glorious life, so ought we in spiritual life to take new manners. Of the third: By his great mercy God hath raised us in hope of life by the resurrection of Jesu Christ. Of the fourth it is said to us in Scripture: Jesu Christ arose from death, for by man is death come to men, and by man, that is Jesu Christ, the life is come to men. Thus be they the first of dead men. Adam of them that died, and Jesu Christ of them that be alive by his resurrection. And thus it appeareth that Jesu Christ had four properties in his resurrection. The first is, that our resurrection is deferred unto the last resurrection, and Jesu Christ arose the third day. As saith the gloss upon this psalm: Ad vesperum demorabitur fletus, etc.: At evensong time shall be weeping, and on the morn gladness and joy. The gloss saith that the resurrection of Jesu Christ is cause sufficient of the resurrection of souls in this present time, and of the bodies in time to come. The second property is, that we rise by him, and he arose by himself. Whereof saith S. Ambrose: How might he seek help to raise his body, which raised other? The third property is, that we become dust or ashes, and his body might not be turned into ashes. The fourth property is, that his resurrection is cause sacramental of our resurrection. 

As touching the sixth article, how oft he appeared the day of his resurrection. He appeared five times. First to Mary Magdalene, Marci ultimo. After his resurrection he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, which is figure of penitents. And for five reasons he appeared to her. First, for she loved him most ardently. Because she loved so much, God forgave and pardoned her many sins. Secondly, for to show that he died for sinners, Matthew ix.: Non vend vocare, etc.: I came not for to call rightful men but sinners to penance. Thirdly, for to verify his word, Matthew xxi.: Amen dico quia meretrices, etc.: To the hypocrites and pharisees he saith that common women and the publicans should go before them to the kingdom of heaven. Fourthly, for because that like as a woman was messenger of death, so a woman should be messenger of life, after the gloss. Fifthly, like as sin abounded, so should grace more abound, like as the apostle saith ad Romanos v. The second time he appeared to the three Maries which returned from the monument, when he said to them: Avete, God greet you; and then then approached him and held his feet. And that is the figure of humble prayers. To whom our Lord appeared, as well for the reason of the nature as for the reason of the affection. For they held his feet, which signifieth the affection of the heart. Thirdly he appeared to S. Peter, but when or in what place it is not known, but if it were by adventure when he returned from the monument with S. John. For it might well be that S. Peter in some place turned from S. John, where God appeared to him, or by adventure when he was alone in the monument. Like as it is said in Scholastica Historia, or peradventure in a cave or a fosse. For it is read in the histories, when he renied and forsook our Lord, that he fled into a cave where as the mountain is which is called the mountain of the cock; or else after that it is said that he wept three days continually after that he had renied God, and there Jesus appeared to him and comforted him, saying: Peter bear the virtue of obedience, to whom our Lord showeth him. Fourthly he appeared to his disciples which went to Emaus, which is as much as to say as desire of counsel, and signifieth to visit the poor members of Jesu Christ and to help them. As it is said in the gospel: Go and sell all that thou hast, and give it to poor people. Fifthly he appeared to his disciples which were together in a place closed. And this signifieth religious men that be in the world with the gates of their five wits closed. These five apparitions were the day of his resurrection. And these five representeth the priest in his mass when he turneth him five times to the people. But the third turning is in silence, which signifieth the apparition made to S. Peter, which is not known when it was made ne in what place. Sixthly he appeared the eighth day to his disciples when S. Thomas was there, which had said that he would not believe it till he had seen the wounds, the nails, and that he had put his hands in his side. The seventh time he appeared fishing, Johannis ultimo, and that signifieth preachers which be fishers of men. The eighth time he appeared to his disciples in the Mount Tabor, Matthew ultimo, and that signifieth them that been contemplative, for in the said hill was our Lord transfigured. The ninth time he appeared to eleven disciples where they sat at table, whereat he reproved their incredulity and hardness of heart; by which we understand the sinners in the eleven number of transgression set, whom our Lord by his mercy sometime visiteth. The tenth time he appeared to his disciples in the Mount of Olives by which is signified them that be full of mercy and that love compassion, to whom our Lord appeareth, which is Father of mercy and of pity. From this place he ascended up into heaven. There be three other manner of apparitions of which is made mention, which were made the day of the resurrection, but they be not had in the text of the gospel. The first was that he appeared to S. James the Less, which is named James Alphei, of which thou shalt find in his legend.

The second that he appeared was to Joseph, as it is read in the gospel of Nicodemus. For when the Jews had heard that Joseph had demanded the body of Jesus of Pilate, and that he had put it in his monument, they were angry and had indignation on him, and took him and put him in a secret place, where diligently they closed him and kept him, and would have slain him after their sabbath day. And Jesus the night of his resurrection entered into the house where he was in, and overlift up the four corners of the house, and wiped and cleansed his visage and kissed him. And without breaking of any lock or seal he brought him into his house in Arimathea. The third is after that it is believed he appeared unto his mother Mary, the glorious Virgin, and how be it that the holy Evangelists speak nothing thereof, the Church of Rome approveth it. For the same day is made station at our Lady the major. And if we should not believe because the Evangelists make no mention thereof, it should follow that after his resurrection he appeared not to her; but that ought not to be believed that such a son should not leave his mother without visiting, and do to her so little honour. And peradventure the Evangelists speak no word of her because it appeareth not to them but to set witness of the resurrection. And the Virgin Mary ought not to be set in for no witness. For if the words of strange women were reputed for leasings, much more should the mother be because of the love that she had to him that was her son. And though the Evangelists have not written it, yet they knew well for certain that it is right that first he should enhance and comfort her that had most pain and sorrow for his death. And that witnesseth S. Ambrose in the third book of Virgins: Vidit Maria, etc.: Mary saw the resurrection and she believed it perfectly. Mary Magdalene saw it and yet she doubted it. Of the seventh, how Jesu Christ drew the holy fathers out of hell, and what he made there, the Evangelist telleth not clearly. Nevertheless Saint Austin in a sermon, and Nicodemus in his gospels, show it somewhat. And Saint Austin saith: Anon as Jesu Christ had rendered the spirit, the soul that was united to his Godhead was quick and living in the deepness of hell descended. And when he was at deepest of the darkness, like as a robber shining and terrible to the tyrants of hell, they beheld him and began to demand and enquire: Who is he that is so strong, so terrible, so clear and so shining ? The world, which is to us subject, sent to us never such one dead, ne he sent to us never such gifts into hell. Who is he then that is so constant that is entered into the furthest end of our parts, and he doubteth not only of our torments, but yet he hath unbound them of their bonds whom we held and kept? And they that were wont to wail and weep under our torments, assail us now by their health. And now not only they fear us, but now threaten and menace us. And they said to their prince: What prince art thou? All thy gladness is perished and all thy joys be converted into weepings. When thou hangedst him in the cross thou knewest not what damage thou shouldst suffer in hell. After these cruel words of them of hell, at the commandment of our Lord all the locks, all the bars and shuttings been broken, and to-frushed. And lo! the people of saints that come kneeling tofore him in crying with piteous voice, saying: Our Redeemer! Thou art come for to redeem the world, we have abided thee every day; thou art descended into hell for us, and leave us not, but that we be with thee when thou shalt return to thy brethren. Lord sweet God, show that thou hast despoiled hell, and bind the author of death with his bonds, render to the world now gladness, and quench the pains; and for thy pity unbind the caitiffs from servitude whiles thou art here, and assoil the sinners when thou descendest into hell, them of thy party. This said Saint Austin.

And it is read in the gospel of Nicodemus that Carinus and Leucius, sons of old Simeon, arose with Jesu Christ. And they were adjured and sworn of Ananias, of Caiaphas, of Nicodemus, of Joseph, and of Gamaliel, that they should tell and say what Jesus did in hell. And they rehearsed and said: When we were with our fathers in the place of obscurity and darkness, suddenly it was all so light and clear as the colour of the sun, like purple, gold, and light royal, which illumined all the habitation upon us. And anon Adam the father of the human lineage began to enjoy, saying: This light is the light of the creator of the light sempiternal, which promised to send to us his light perpetual. And Isaiah cried: This is the light of God the Father, like as I said living in the earth: The people that were in darkness saw a great light. Then came our Father Simeon, and in joying said: Glorify ye our Lord, for I received Christ, a child born in the world, in to mine hands in the Temple, and I was constrained by the Holy Ghost to say, Nunc viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum: I have now seen with mine eyen thine health which bringeth and hath made it ready before the face of all thy people. After, came one which seemed to be an hermit, and when we demanded him what he was, he answered that he was John that baptized Christ, and he that am gone before him for to make ready his way, and showed him with my finger when I said: Ecce agnus Dei, and am descended for to show to you that he cometh soon to visit you. Then said Seth: When I came to the gate of Paradise for to pray our Lord to send me his angel, and that he would give to me of the oil of mercy for to anoint the body of Adam my father, which was sick, the angel Michael appeared to me and said: Labour not in praying by weeping for t things here, anon they were transfigured and were no more seen. And hereof speaketh Gregory Nyssen and S. Austin, like as is found in some books.

Anon as Jesu Christ descended into hell, the night began to wax clear. And anon the porter black and horrible among them in silence began to murmur, saying: Who is he that is so terrible and of clearness so shining? Our master received never none such into hell, ne the world cast never none such into our cavern. This is an assailer, and not debtor, a breaker and destroyer, and no sinner but a despoiler, we see him a judge but no beseecher, he comes for to fight and not to be overcome, a caster out and not here a dweller.

The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275.  First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900 (Reprinted 1922, 1931.) This chapter is from: Volume 1:  The Resurrection
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
by St. Alphonsus Liguori

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"Be not affrighted: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here.” MARK xvi. 6.

I HOPE, my dear Christians, that, as Christ is risen, you have in this holy paschal time, gone to confession, and have risen from your sins. But, attend to what St. Jerome teaches that many begin well, but few persevere. “Incipere multorem est, perseverare paucorum.” Now the Holy Ghost declares, that he who perseveres in holiness to death, and not they who begin a good life, shall be saved. “But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matt.xxiv. 13.) The crown of Paradise, says St. Bernard, is promised to those who commence, but it is given only to those who persevere. “Inchoantibus præmium promittitur, perseverantibus datur.” (Ser. vi. Deinodo bene viv.) Since, then, brethren, you have resolved to give yourselves to God, listen to the admonition of the Holy Ghost: “Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thyself for temptation.” (Eccl. ii. 1.)

Do not imagine that you shall have no more temptations, but prepare yourself for the combat, and guard against a relapse into the sins you have confessed; for, if you lose the grace of God again, you shall find it difficult to recover it. I intend this day to show you the miserable state of relapsing sinners; that is, of those who, after confession, miserably fall back into the sins which they confessed.


1. Since, then, dearly beloved Christians, you have made a sincere confession of your sins, Jesus Christ says to you what he says to the paralytic: “Behold, thou art made whole. Sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.” (John v. 14.) By the confessions which you have made your souls are healed, but not as yet saved; for, if you return to sin, you shall be again condemned to hell, and the injury caused by the relapse shall be far greater than that which you sustained from your former sins. “Audis,” says St. Bernard, “recidere quam incidere, esse deterius.” If a man recover from a mortal disease, and afterwards fall back into it, he shall have lost so much of his natural strength, that his recovery from the relapse will be impossible. This is precisely what will happen to relaxing sinners; returning to the vomit that is, taking back into the soul the sins vomited forth in confession they shall be so weak, that they will become objects of amusement to the devil. St. Anselm says, that the devil acquires a certain dominion over them, so that he makes them fall, and fall again as he wishes. Hence the miserable beings become like birds with which a child amuses himself. He allows them, from time to time, to fly to a certain height, and then draws them back again when he pleases, by means of a cord made fast to them. Such is the manner in which the devil treats relapsing sinners. “Sed quia ab hoste tenentur, volantes in eadem vitia dejiciuntur.

2. St. Paul tells us, that we have to contend not with men like ourselves, made of flesh and blood, but with the princes of hell. “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against  principalities and powers.” (Ephes. vii. 12.) By these words he wishes to admonish us that we have not strength to resist the powers of hell, and that, to resist them, the divine aid is absolutely necessary: without it, we shall be always defeated; but, with the assistance of God’s grace, we shall, according to the same apostle, be able to do all things and shall conquer all enemies. “I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Phil. iv. 13.) But this assistance God gives only to those who pray for it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find.” (Matt. vii. 7.) They who neglect to ask, do not receive. Let us, then, be careful not to trust in our resolutions: if we place our confidence in them, we shall be lost. When we are tempted to relapse into sin, we must put our whole trust in the assistance of God, who infallibly hears all who invoke his aid.

3″He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. x. 12.) They who are in the state of grace should, according to St. Paul, be careful not to fall into sin, particularly if they have been ever guilty of mortal sins; for a relapse into sin brings greater evil on the soul. “And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. “(Luke xi. 26.)

4. We are told in the Holy Scriptures, that the enemy “will offer victims to his drag, and will sacrifice to his net; because through them his meat is made dainty.” (Habac. i. 16.) In explaining this passage St. Jerome says, that the devil seeks to catch in his nets all men, in order to sacrifice them to the divine justice by their damnation. Sinners, who are already in the net, he endeavours to bind with new chains; but the friends of God are his “dainty meats.” To make them his slaves, and to rob them of all they have acquired, he prepares stronger snares. “The more fervently,” says Denis the Carthusian, “a soul endeavours to serve God, the more fiercely does the adversary rage against her.” The closer the union of a Christian with God, and the greater his efforts to serve God, the more the enemy is aimed with rage, and the more strenuously he labours to enter into the soul from which he has been expelled. “When,” says the Redeemer, “the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, seeking rest, and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house, whence I came out.” (Luke xi. 24.) Should he succeed in re-entering, he will not enter alone, but will bring with him associates to fortify himself in the soul of which he has again got possession. Thus, the second destruction of that miserable soul shall be greater than the first. “And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Luke xi. 26.)

5. To God, the relapse of ungrateful Christians is very displeasing. Because, after he had called and pardoned them with so much love, he sees that, forgetful of his mercies to them, they again turn their back upon him and renounce his grace. “If my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. But thou, a man of one mind, my guide and familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with me. “ (Ps. liv. 13, etc.) Had my enemy, says the Lord, insulted me, I would have felt less pain; but to see you rebel against me, after I had restored my friendship to you, and after I had made you sit at my table, to eat my own flesh, grieves me to the heart, and impels me to take vengeance on you. Miserable the man who, after having received so many graces from God, becomes the enemy, from being the friend of God. He shall find the sword of divine vengeance prepared to chastise him. “And he that passes over from justice to sin, God hath prepared such an one for the sword.” (Eccl. xxvi. 27.)

6. Some of you may say: If I relapse, I will soon rise again; for I will immediately prepare myself for confession. To those who speak in this manner shall happen what befell Samson. He allowed himself to be deluded by Dalila: while he was asleep she cut off his hair, and his strength departed from him. Awaking from sleep, he said: “I will go out as I did before, and shake myself, not knowing that the Lord was departed from him. “ (Judges xvi. 20.) He expected to deliver himself as on former occasions, from the hands of the Philistines. But, because his strength had departed from him, he was made their slave. They pulled out his eyes, and binding him in chains, shut him up in prison. After relapsing into sin, a Christian loses the strength necessary to resist temptations, because “the Lord departs from him.” He abandons him by withholding the efficacious aid necessary to overcome temptations; and the miserable man remains blind and abandoned in his sin.

7. “No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke ix. 62.) Behold a faithful picture of a relapsing sinner. Mark the words no man: no one, says Jesus Christ, who begins to serve me, and looks back, is fit to enter heaven. According to Origen, the addition of a new sin to one committed before, is like the addition of a new wound to a wound just inflicted. “Cum peccatum peccato adjicitur, sicut vulnus vulneri.” (Hom. i. in Ps.) If a wound be inflicted on any member of the body, that member certainly loses its original vigour. But, if it receives a second wound, it shall lose all strength and motion, without hope of recovery. The great evil of a relapse into sin is, that it renders the soul so weak that she has but little strength to resist temptation. For St. Thomas says, “After a fault has been remitted, the dispositions produced by the preceding acts remain.” (1 p., qu.86, art. 5.) Every sin, though pardoned, always leaves a wound on the soul. When to this wound a new one is added, the soul becomes so weak that, without a special and extraordinary grace from God, it is impossible for her to conquer temptations.

8. Let us, then, brethren, tremble at the thought of relapsing into sin, and let us beware of availing ourselves of the mercy of God to continue to offend him. “He,” says St. Augustine, “who has promised pardon to penitents, has promised repentance to no one.” God has indeed promised pardon to all who repent of their sins, but he has not promised to any one the grace to repent of the faults which he has committed. Sorrow for sin is a pure gift of God; if he withholds it, how will you repent? And without repentance, how can you obtain pardon? Ah! the Lord will not allow himself to be mocked. “Be not deceived,” says St. Paul, “God is not mocked.” (Gal. vi. 7.) St. Isidore tells us, that the man who repeats the sin which he before detested, is not a penitent, but a scoffer of God’s majesty. “Irrisor, et non pœnitens est, pui adhuc agit, quod pœnitet.” (De Sum. Bono.) And Tertullian teaches, that where there is no amendment, repentance is not sincere. “Ubi emendatio nulla, pœnitentia nulla.” (De Pœnit.)

9. “Be penitent,” said St. Peter in a discourse to the Jews, “and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts iii. 19.) Many repent, but are not converted. They feel a certain sorrow for the irregularities of their lives, but do not sincerely return to God. They go to confession, strike their breasts, and promise to amend; but they do not make a firm resolution to change their lives. They who resolve firmly on a change of life, persevere, or at least preserve themselves for a considerable time in the grace of God. But they who relapse into sin soon after confession, show, as St. Peter says, that they repent, but are not converted; and such persons shall in the end die an unhappy death. “Plerumque,” says St. Gregory, “mali sic compunguntur ad justitiam, sicut plerumque boni tentantur ad culpam.” (Pastor., p. 3, admon. 31.) As the just have frequent temptations to sin, but yield not to them, because their will abhors them, so sinners feel certain impulses to virtue; but these are not sufficient to produce a true conversion. The Wise Man tells us that mercy shall be shown to him who confesses his sins and abandons them, but not to those who merely confess their transgressions. “He that shall confess “his sins, ” and forsake them, shall obtain mercy.” (Prov. xxviii. 13.) He, then, who does not give up, but returns to sin after confession, shall not obtain mercy from God, but shall die a victim of divine justice. He may expect to die the death of a certain young Englishman, who, as is related in the history of England, was in the habit of relapsing into sins against purity. He always fell back into these sins after confession. At the hour of death he confessed his sins, and died in a manner which gave reason to hope for his salvation. But, while a holy priest was celebrating or preparing to celebrate Mass for his departed soul, the miserable young man appeared to him, and said that he was damned. He added that, at the point of death, being tempted to indulge a bad thought, he felt himself as it were forced to consent, and, as he was accustomed to do in the former part of his life, he yielded to the temptation, and thus was lost.

10. Is there then no means of salvation for relapsing sinners? I do not say this; but I adopt the maxim of physicians. “In inagnis morbis a magnis initium medendi sumere oportet.” In malignant diseases, powerful remedies are necessary. To return to the way of salvation, the relapsing sinner must do great violence to himself. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Matt. xi. 12.) In the beginning of a new life, the relapsing sinner must do violence to himself in order to root out the bad habits which he has contracted, and to acquire habits of virtue; for when he has acquired habits of virtue, the observance of the divine commands shall become easy and even sweet. The Lord once said to St. Bridget, that, to those who bear with fortitude the first punctures of the thorns which they experience in the attacks of the senses, in avoiding occasions of sin, and in withdrawing from dangerous conversations, these thorns are by degrees changed into roses.

11. But, to use the necessary violence, and to lead a life of regularity, you must adopt the proper means; otherwise you shall do nothing. After rising in the morning, you must make acts of thanksgiving, of the love of God, and of oblation of the actions of the day. You must also renew your resolution never to offend God, and beg of Jesus Christ and his holy mother to preserve you from sin during the day. Afterwards make your meditation and hear Mass. During the day make a spiritual lecture and a visit to the most holy sacrament. In the evening, say the Rosary and make an examination of conscience. Receive the holy communion at least once a week, or more frequently if your directors advise you. Be careful to choose a confessor, to whom you will regularly go to confession. It is also very useful to make a spiritual retreat every year in some religious house. Honour the mother of God every day by some particular devotion, and by fasting on every Saturday. She is the mother of perseverance, and promises to obtain it for all who serve her. “They that work by me shall not sin.” (Eccl. xxiv. 30.) Above all, it is necessary to ask of God every morning the gift of perseverance, and to beg of the Blessed Virgin to obtain it for you, and particularly in the time of temptation, by invoking the name of Jesus and Mary as long as the temptation lasts. Happy the man who will continue to act in this manner, and shall he found so doing when Jesus Christ shall come to judge him. “Blessed is that servant, whom, when his Lord shall come, he shall find so doing.” (Matt. xxiv. 46.)

"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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A reminder ...
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A reminder ...
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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