Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday – Tucson – 2020
Christ is risen, alleluia!  He is risen indeed, alleluia!
Happy and Blessed Easter to you all from St. Gianna Oratory!  I want to thank the faithful souls who have continued to help support us in prayer, financially, and with their time in cleaning and sanitizing our church and helped with the beautiful decorations that you see behind me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart! 
Also, in the 1930’s just 5 years after Our Lady of Fatima asked for the first Saturday devotions, Our Lord appeared to Sister Maria Faustina revealing His message of Mercy and asking her to spread this devotion throughout the world.  He asked her particularly to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as a novena before the Sunday after Easter, traditionally Low Sunday.  After the Sermon, please join us for day 3 of this Novena to Divine Mercy as we recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“Why seek you the living with the dead.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My Dear Faithful, a few days ago, a well-known Catholic prelate called on bishops and priests to do an exorcism on Holy Saturday at 3PM Rome Time.  He recommended they do a minor exorcism composed by the great Pope Leo 13th after he had seen a vision of Satan attacking the Church.  This minor exorcism, any priest can do and part of this composed exorcism is recited at the end of each Latin Mass with also a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.  Why did Pope Leo compose this exorcism?  One version says: “ He heard Satan ask God the Father for more power and time to afflict and test the fidelity of His Church. And God in His inscrutable ways, granted these requests. Then he saw legions of demons leap from hell, and what looked like black shadows invading the entire earth for a century. The Pope understood the great importance that the Archangel Saint Michael would have in the ensuing fight (Daniel 12, 1) and that he was the one destined to chain and imprison with the keys of the abyss all the demons (Apocalypse 20, 1-3).”  This prayer to St. Michael was prayed after every Catholic Mass from 1886 until 1968.  Less than 4 years later, Pope Paul VI said: “the smoke of Satan has entered by some crack into the Temple of God.”  And why do I bring this up for Easter Sunday?  Why do I talk about the Evil One on Easter Sunday?  
Precisely because today Our Lord defeated the Devil.  Our Lord, forever, gave him the lethal blow to which the possibility of our salvation was restored.  Our Lord, knowing that His death was at hand, ? did He not announce on Maundy Thursday: “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.”?  And shortly earlier, He said: “Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.”  “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out….”  What is an exorcism, if not the casting out of Satan from this world?  It’s precisely by the merits of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection that Satan was defeated.  And to continue this ministry for souls, He instituted the priesthood on Maundy Thursday, through whom He would continue to give his lethal blow to the devil. All priests in the traditional communities are ordained Exorcists, which was 1 of the 7 orders every priest would receive.  But being an Exorcist is actually a minor order, and even one of the least of these orders in order to humiliate the devil, as it’s one of the least in the hierarchy of clerics who was in charge of performing these exorcisms.  From my time in our missions of Africa where exorcisms were more manifest than here in the west, though not as infrequent just more hidden, it was manifested the fear that the devils have of Our Blessed Mother, who because of her humility, her obedience to God merited to be the Mother of God.  Though the devils can imitate any virtue, they’ll never imitate humility.  St. John Climacus said : “If pride made demons out of Angels, there is no doubt that humility could make Angels out of demons.”
But if the devil likes anything, it’s trying to get us to disobey, for something we judge as a good reason.  Once we step out of line, once we step out from the shelter of obedience, once we step out of the umbrella of obedience to God’s authority, we’re now a target for the Evil One, in fact we’ve abandoned our camp.  It was disobedience through the devil’s treachery that caused our demise, but it was the obedience of Christ that restored us to God the Father.  This obedience of Christ, we prayed yesterday at the Office of Tenebrae: “Christ became obedient for us unto death, even to the death of the cross.  For which cause God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above all names.”
The Exorcism on Holy Saturday was also fitting because on this day Our Lord descended to the Hell of the Just, the Limbo of the Patriarchs, and freed them to come with Him to their resurrection.  Satan’s chains on their souls was cut broken by His Death.  In a similar way, through the Exorcism recited by the priest and through the Sacraments that we receive, Christ descends to free souls from the chains of the Evil One so that they can rise through His Grace to grow in His Love and grow in merit for Heaven.
“Why seek you the living with the dead.”  In the Gospel of St. Luke, the pious women came to Jesus bringing spices and ointments to anoint Our Lord.  But Our Lord’s risen body had no need of merely earthly creams.  His Resurrected Body was fit for eternity.   After Our Lord’s Resurrection, His disciples still didn’t understand the nature of His Resurrection.  They didn’t understand that His Resurrection, though He was truly risen in His human body would no longer need their temporal care as before.  Nevertheless, it was to ensure their faith in His Resurrection, that He even ate physical food to show them that He was risen in His body.  Yet, this new life would be different.  Our Lord didn’t remain with them in the same way as before.  He was truly physically there with them for 40 days, but it was in many successive meetings.  This was so that they wouldn’t be too attached to His physical presence and to get them to focus on their Eternal Resurrection in Heaven.  Yahweh is the God of the Living, not of the Dead.  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the living.  True life is in Heaven and Christ’s Resurrection is already pointing to Heaven.  Our paradise is not our resurrected bodies on an earthly paradise.  No, our paradise is Heaven, in the Beatific Vision.
I think many people have recently fallen to the traps of the devil.  They are afraid, they are worried, they are filled with sorrow, bitterness, and depression.  Today is a wake-up call if this is you!  If you’re afraid or worried about your earthly life, then you are searching for the “living among the dead.”  You’ll never find perfect peace here below.  Christ said: “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.”  This isn’t just a cute mousepad quote with the clouds in the background, it’s a reality of Faith that we live following Christ’s Resurrection.  Christ has overcome the world, He is our Resurrected King.  Forget about the devil’s skirmishes here and there: that is searching for the living among the dead.
“Why seek you the living with the dead.”  Be not afraid: Bad fear is terrible for the soul.  The effects of bad fear are worry, stress, anxiety, depression.  These paralyze the soul, preventing us from putting one step in front of another.  Countless souls are suffering tremendously at the present moment because of bad fear.  Remember the comforting words of Our Lord: “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” The only fear we should have is offending the God we love.  This good fear causes humility, obedience, and zeal for God.  This is good fear which is the beginning of wisdom and the .  
“Why seek you the living with the dead.”  At this time of Easter, should be joyful and not sorrowful: by our baptism we were buried with Christ and risen to grace in His Resurrection.  By the Sacraments, we already participate in His Resurrection and their reception is a foreshadowing of our own resurrection to life in Heaven.  We have joy because God lives in us!  That is what grace is!  Joy is when you have pleasure when the good you seek is present.  God became Incarnate to be with us.  God died on the cross to redeem us and to show us His love!  He instituted all the Sacraments as causes for His life to grow in us.  He wants us to still share in the joy of His Resurrection.
“Why seek you the living with the dead.”  We now seek to live as if we’re already sharing in Christ’s Resurrection.  Which means a life of holiness and virtue, seeking first the Kingdom of God.  St. Paul says in the Epistle for the Easter Vigil: “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.”
My dear faithful, let me close with these beautiful words sung by the deacon last night at the Exultet: “This is the night which at this time throughout the world restores to grace and unites in sanctity those that believe in Christ, and are separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sinners.  This is the night in which, destroying the bonds of death, Christ arose victorious from the grave.  For it would have profited us nothing to have been born, unless redemption had also been bestowed on us. O wonderful condescension of Thy mercy toward us!”  As the devil has been cast out from our souls by the Sacraments that wash us in the blood of Our Risen Lord, may we not search for the living among the dead, may we persevere in living our life with Our Resurrected King through humility, through obedience to His Cross, and through hope of the joy that awaits us in Heaven! Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.