A paschal prayer

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“Christ is…” 

In the dead of night, an enthusiastic pastor waits at the pulpit for his somewhat less enthusiastic congregation to respond “risen.” 

“Christ is…”

The weak newborn babe in the manger; altogether unassuming, gentle, majestic, all-powerful, simple, omniscient and probably adorable — did He know this was coming all those years ago at Christmas, I wonder? The sharp, diligent Carpenter who inspires affection just by being; it would awesome to have a rocking chair or kitchen table built by God — is it sacrilege to want that? The clever, wiry Teacher who sparks the fire of zeal in even the least sparkable of souls; how often I need that — I am so often un-sparkable. The thin, bare Figure on the cross, dying; with what radical trust His Mother wept! Did she anticipate the silver thread that would mend her womanly heart? 

“Risen.” 

Risen for you. Risen for me. Risen for that kid in the pew in front of you squirming as though he must escape some deathly peril. Whether in the most elaborate of cathedrals or in the homeliest of parishes. No matter who your parents are, who your grandparents are, who that squirmy kid’s parents are, or where you come from. No matter what your house looks like or who the president is. Christ — the wiry, clever, thin, bare, sharp, diligent, and adorable Savior — is risen. 

Every year we pause, as the rest of the world races on, to sit in the silence of the Tomb and wait for the Miracle we already know will occur. Every year from the year you were born, till the year you squirmed in the front row of a homely parish, till the year your parents told you about that unrealized and mysterious happening that is “the forgiveness of sins,” till the first year the magnitude of this Gift — in a devastatingly personal, washing-over, staggering way — smacked you in the face, till the year you will try to express the Gift — through eyes wet with victory — to your own squirmy kids in the front row of a homely parish.

It is because of this Gift that we wake every blessed day to a new morning; it is because of this Gift that we begin again, and again, and again on our arduous pilgrimage to the Giver; it is because of this Gift that I may daily gaze upon He who is My Lord, My God; it is because of this Gift that our battles, big and small, are battles already won. 

How simply Christ reveals His risen-ness to us every day! A professor lends you a book on the condition that you return it in good order, and then gives it to you — with an amused smile — when you forget that it belongs to him and scribble your attempts at learning all over it. A fellow student, who you don’t even know, provides that all-too-difficult-to-procure relief that is printer money in the moments before an essay is due. Bells sing to you, consistent and relentless, reminding you that you have breathed and been alive and been loved — for otherwise we would not be alive — for the 15 minutes since they last sang. Thunder rumbles above a metal-roofed, brown-brick, crimson-adorned church at the very moment that God appears, and healing rain pours at the moment you are lucky enough to receive Him. 

What a routine, mysterious, hope-inducing, heart-shattering, ordinary miracle the Resurrection of Christ is! 

Said Pope Benedict XVI, “Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: ‘Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!’” 

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