Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
Today is Christ’s Resurrection! The Feast of feasts! The Solemnity of solemnities! Heaven and earth are full of God’s joyous glory! In front of the overpowering victory of life over death Saint Paul cries out from his heart: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).
How moving is Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus’s (c. 530–c. 600/609) poem On Easter! One cannot not appreciate Christ’s heroic love for us!
“O Christ, You Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, … who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that You might rescue man, Yourself also became man: nor were You willing only to be born with a body, but You became flesh, which endured to be born and to die. You undergo funeral obsequies, Yourself the author of life and framer of the world, You enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation…
I pray You, O power benign! The third day has returned; arise, my buried One; it is not becoming that Your limbs should lie in the lowly sepulchre, nor that worthless stones should press that which is the ransom of the world. It is unworthy that a stone should shut in with a confining rock, and cover Him in whose fist all things are enclosed. Take away the linen clothes, I pray; leave the napkins in the tomb: You are sufficient for us, and without You there is nothing. Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths. Give back Your face, that the world may see the light”.
How awesome is Christ’s Resurrection! So awesome that Paul declared unhesitantly: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Christ crushed death and sin once and for all so that we shall live forever with him already from this world.
In order that his triumph over Satan and his fallen kingdom reigns supreme forevermore Christ made available for us the first fruits of his Resurrection through the sacrament of Reconciliation. On the evening of his Resurrection, “the first day of the week”, amid the deadly fear of his disciples, Jesus came into their midst and told them: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Then he enfleshed his greeting by breathing on them his Holy Spirit and commissioned them to go and forgive sins. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 22:23).
Yes! Indeed! The sacrament of Reconcilation brings about our spiritual resurrection. As the Cathecism of the Catholic Church says: “Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God” (no.1468).
The immense spiritual benefits of the sacrament of Reconcilation can be found in the following excerpt taken from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s writings.
“How many are the souls, in distress, anxiety or loneliness, whose one need is to find a being to whom they can pour out their feelings unheard by the world? Tell them out they must; they cannot tell them out to those whom they see every hour. They want to tell them and not to tell them; and they want to tell them out, yet be as if they be not told; they wish to tell them to one who is strong enough to bear them, yet not too strong to despise them; they wish to tell them to one who can at once advise and can sympathize with them; they wish to relieve themselves of a load, to gain a solace, to receive the assurance that there is one who thinks of them, and one to whom in thought they can recur, to whom they can betake themselves, if necessary, from time to time, while they are in world” (The Present Position of Catholics, p. 351).
Do I want to be resurrected spiritually this Easter? Why not going to confession in this special year of Mercy to be resurrected with Christ and be victor with him over the deadly poison of sin?