Today’s oration has us ask the Lord that, having celebrated the paschal solemnities, we may keep them in our way of living, moribus et vita. Yesterday, a similar oration asked that having celebrated the paschal solemnities, we might attain to eternal joys, gaudia aeterna.
Easter is truly the celebration of eternity, eternal life. This it is that the eternal Lord has won for us by undergoing death in time. And this is the great grace of paschaltide: we are an “Easter people” because we are heading towards eternal life, thanks to the seed planted in our souls at Baptism and which we are called upon to irrigate by frequent reception of the other sacraments and use of the prayers and sacramentals of the Church, along with the practice of good works. Keeping the mystery of Easter moribus et vita means living out in the day to day activities the paschal mystery, that is to say, the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord. But what does that mean?
It means we must learn to die to ourselves each day, as St Paul says of himself: “Quotidie morior: I die each day” (1 Cor 15:31). It means “always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10). It means “reckoning ourselves dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:12). Because of this, we may not allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies by obeying the lusts thereof. For again, “if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead: and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3).
It means that we who put on Christ can no longer live like the rest of the world. It is interesting that St Paul attributes the vices of worldlings to their loss of hope: “Henceforward walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind: Having their understanding darkened: being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts, who despairing have given themselves up to lust, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness” (Eph 4:17-19). They have not hope, and so abandon themselves to despair. What is abandoning oneself to the vices of the flesh if it is not a form of despair? To seek to gratify oneself with dust and mud. No wonder then that after several decades of forgetfulness of eternity and preoccupation with the things of this world only, we now have the sad state of a Church plagued with vice. If there is no hope of eternity, despair sets in, and if despair sets in, the vices of the flesh become god, a cruel, blood-thirsty god who allows no rest to souls and no peace to hearts.
But when one has put on Christ, when one knows with absolute certainty that Christ Our Lord is risen from the dead and that He is drawing us towards the eternal kingdom, the aeterna gaudia, then one has hope, one is filled to overflowing with joy that if we are but faithful for a few brief moments in this ephemeral life, we shall take part in eternal life with Christ.
My dear friends, in a world gradually immersing itself more and more in matter and in despair, the witness of monks, indeed the witness of all true Christians, must be that there is something higher, there is eternity, and on the day of our death the only joys we will have are the thoughts of the good things we did for God, the passing things that we gave up for God. For God is great, and He is worth losing all for.
This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith, and it is given to those who make themselves quasimodo geniti infantes, as newborn babes who, taking in the sweet milk of the truth of the Gospel, in their innocence glow with peace and joy. “Unless you become as little children, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18:3).