Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

The joy of Easter and the Risen Lord is upon us… Christ is Risen!  Truly, He is Risen!

ResurrectionLet us all give thanks to our God for the Easter Season and all He has given us. The time of particular preparation and penance of Lent is behind us and it is now time to live in the Lord.  If we have been attentive and faithful to our calling, these past six weeks have seen us die more to self, allowing our God to work His mighty works in us.

Last evening, I assisted at the Easter Vigil and was privileged to proclaim the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation that recounts the saving action of God in our lives, as well as in our history as His people. I was struck again this year by the opening words of this ancient hymn:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Truly all on earth and above the earth, indeed the earth itself should be shouting from the rooftops the words of this triumphant hymn of praise. Our Father in Heaven loves us so very much that He sent His Son to earth.  The Creator of all that exists entered into history and His creation, becoming one of us.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, paid the price due our sin, suffering His Passion and Death… yet rising from the grave. And as He has risen, so shall we, if we follow His example and stand in His grace, dying to self so that as the Apostle Paul proclaims, it is no longer I who live, but the Risen Christ living in me. Rejoice, Alleluia, Rejoice!

So, where do we go from here?  Too many times, I have emerged from Lent and Easter, just to fall back into the same old bad habits and vices, as if nothing had changed. But the reality is that everything is changed… so why not me? Here is what you and I must grasp: “Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever!”  Christ has made it possible for each of us to replace bad habits (vices) with good habits (virtues). His saving work is finished. All that remains is for us to believe it and live it.  Let us resolve to do so, not by our power, but by His. Lord Jesus, open my mind and heart to Your Holy Work. May I allow you to make me anew. May the promptings of the Holy Spirit guide me in every moment of my remaining life.

A good start would be to spend time over the Easter Season, meditating on the words of the Exsultet, asking the Holy Spirit to speak these words to us, and to teach us in the depth of our being to stand in this Holy Light of Christ. May the Good God help us be faithful and to make this year be different!

Exsultet

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

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About the Author

Deacon Michael Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life.™ A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplain of the St. Peter Chanel Faith at Work Business Association and co-founder and Chaplain of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

He and his wife have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

NB: The views I express on this site are my own. I am not an official spokesman for either my parish or diocese.

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