Exult, let them exult! Having been baptized during an Easter Vigil, these opening words from the Exsultet have a special place in my memory of the celebration of Easter. This year, proclaiming the Exsultet in our priory chapel as a deacon, I was struck by the repeated motif of “this is the night.” The night leading into Easter was the night. It was the night of the Passover, and the night of Christ’s victorious resurrection. This word play regarding time reminds me of the Gospel of John, where Jesus often proclaims His hour as both future (coming) and present (is now here). The proclamation of Easter joy is the proclamation and the manifestation of this time of the Resurrection, the time of Jesus. It is a proclamation that begins in the darkness of night, amidst the darkness of sin and death, heralded by the flame of a newly lit Paschal candle shining through the darkness. This light shepherds in the new day, the full Easter dawn, the manifestation and proclamation of the Resurrection.
Reflecting on the dawning of this new day, the dawning of Christ who bursts the prison bonds of death, I am struck by the realization that in the dawning of Easter, I immediately forget all my Lenten penances. Throughout Lent, week after week, we increasingly become aware of our failings, and, with great effort try to summon the strength and courage to convert our lives to God with renewed fervor and devotion.
In Lent, our spiritual focus was on our penitential practices, the keeping of fasts and observances. It was our difficult ascent up to the Temple of Easter. Along that journey we are made increasingly aware of our ever greater need for God’s saving love. But the ascent of Lent is completely transformed in the exultant dawning of Easter morning. Christ rises from the underworld. It is His sanctifying power which blazes through the night; it is He who leads us out from the darkness of death to the dawn of true life.
As we celebrate this Easter season, we can contemplatively rest in this magnificent work of God. Through Lent, we became more aware of what we cannot do, and likewise, of what we truly need. To those who struggle blindly in this life without the power of the Savior, to those who do not believe in Christ, to those who have fallen away for a time, or to those of us enduring a particularly difficult struggle, the Resurrection is both the manifestation of God’s saving power and of the sheer futility of human effort divorced from the power of God. Let us rejoice that Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, has done for us what no one else could, and has loved us as no one else has. He has ennobled us to live in harmony with the will of God and with one another, for joy in this world and everlasting happiness in the world to come. Amen.
Br. Cody Jorgensen, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE