Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Glorious Resurrection!

Father John J. Lombardi

Easter Sunday: the Resurrection of the Lord

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." (John 11:25_26)

"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!"
-From The Easter Exsultet .

"The Resurrection of Christ is a basic truth of Christianity which is in all the symbols of Faith and in all rules of Faith of the ancient Church" -L. Ott.

"The stone at the tomb was a pebble to the Rock of Ages inside." -Fred Beck

G.K Chesterton, the famous convert, once said the Catholic Church is a "democracy of the dead." He meant it is the voice of the past forming the Church today. I thought of that definition after my St Augustine class recently, when I met Fr Massetti ( a teacher here at Mount St Mary's, who is a retired priest of the Harrisburg Diocese). In our conversation regarding his class on the sacraments, he said: most young people do not have a strong notion of the early Church being apostolic (When he said that, I thought: "Just what does he mean?" and then a "light bulb" went of in my head.) He said there was a lack of respectful sense of tradition, of sacred continuity from the past to the present, not only amidst young people today, but in many groups of the Church.

There seems to be a "disconnect" in many peoples' minds regarding what Jesus and the Bible taught, what the Early Fathers of the Church believed (roughly, from Jesus' death to 550 a.d.), and a gap to today's modern world. Believe it or not, the good news about Tradition is that there has been resurgence in Early Church history and Fathers of the Church teachings. Bad News: the recent few decades have caused a huge hole which will take a long time to fill. Thus: morality, Bible studies, spirituality, and sacramentology have all been adversely affected by the denigration and denial of the wisdom and historicity of the Early Church Fathers. They were the ones closet to Jesus and so, when we have a question regarding anything in our faith, we should ask, "What would the Father's Do?"

This all leads to the fact that: "The Fathers attest to the resurrection of the Lord with great emphasis and with a complete unanimity against heathen materialism and against Jewish unbelief ("The Fundmentals of Catholic Dogma: L. Ott. Tan, pp. 192-193) Therefore, the Fathers testify against invalid theologies suggesting Jesus didn't really rise bodily, but maybe He did "spiritually." The Church teaches, as dogma: "On the third day after His Death Christ rose gloriously from the dead. (De fide). 

The Resurrection of Christ is a basic truth of Christianity, which is expressed in all the symbols of Faith and in all rules of Faith of the ancient Church. Christ, as the Eleventh Synod of Toledo (675) emphasizes, rose through His own power. The source of His Resurrection is the Hypostatic Union. The Principal Cause of the Resurrection was the Word, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost; the Instrumental Cause was the parts of the humanity of Christ, soul and body which were hypostatically united with the Godhead. When Holy Writ (for example Acts 2, 24; Gal. 1, 1) asserts that Christ was awakened by God or by the Father; these assertions are to be taken as referring to His humanity. All forms of rationalism in ancient and modern times (the deceit hypothesis, apparent death hypothesis, vision hypothesis), deny Christ's Resurrection" (Ott. Pp. 192-193). Jesus rose from the dead-He moved away the stone of sin we placed there, and by His bodily appearances, showed us Triumph-if we are worthy of Him. Are you helping Him move away the "stone"?

We, as Catholic Christians, rejoice and are thankful that we have received the unique, beautiful and time-tested Faith of Our Fathers regarding the Resurrection-and not "warmed over rationalism" or spurious spiritualism--a spirit risen without a body. We believe and trust what has always been preached by authentic Christ-centered teaching: that Jesus in His "glorious flesh" rose from the dead . And, further, we fully believe, with Sacred Scripture, that we too have the hope of resurrection of our own bodies. When reading the following passages on the resurrection of the body, we may gain insights into the Lord's Resurrection; we may have spine chills regarding our own possible resurrection; and we can possibly make connections-and corrections-- regarding science and the afterlife (physics and the body), and even be helpful regarding eastern forms of religion and new age spiritualities. Our Catholic heritage and Bible teachings are much more helpful and enticing to others when we truly discover and know them.

From "The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma".

"The composition of the Body after its Resurrection: The bodies of the just will be remodeled and transfigured to the pattern of the Risen Christ. St. Paul teaches: Who (Jesus Christ) will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby also He is able to subdue all things unto Himself (Phil. 3, 21). It is sown in corruption: it shall rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor: it shall rise in glory.

It is sown in weakness; it shall rise in power. It is sown a natural body; it shall rise a spiritual body (I Cor. 15, 42-44). Cf. I Cor. 15, 53: Adopting the teaching of the Apostles, the Schoolmen distinguish four properties or gifts of the resurrection bodies of the just:

  1. Incapability of suffering (impossibilities), that is, inaccessibility to physical evils of all kinds, such as sorrow, sickness, death. It may be more closely defined as the impossibility to suffer and to die--Apoc. 21, 4: And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more: for the former things are passed -away. Cf. 7, 16; Luke 20, 36: Neither can they die any more. The intrinsic reason for impassibility lies in the perfect subjection of the body to the soul.
  2. Subtlety (subtilitas), that is, a spiritualized nature, which, however, is not to be conceived as a transformation of the body into a spiritual essence or as a refinement of the matter into an ethereal body (cf. Luke 24, 39). The archetype of the spiritualized body is the Risen Body of Christ, which emerged from the sealed tomb and penetrated closed doors (John 20, 19, 26). The intrinsic reason of the spiritualization of the body lies in the complete dominion of the body by the transfigured soul in so far as it is the essential form of the body.
  3. Agility (agilitas), that is, the capability of the body to obey the soul with the greatest ease and speed of movement. It forms a contrast to the heaviness of the earthly body, which is conditioned by the Law of Gravity. This agility was manifested by the risen Body of Christ, which was suddenly present in the midst of His Apostles, and which disappeared just as quickly (John 20, 19, 26; Luke 24, 31). The intrinsic reason of agility lies in the perfect dominion over the body of the transfigured soul, to the extent that it moves the body.
  4. Clarity (claritas), that is, being free from everything deformed and being filled with beauty and radiance. Jesus assures us: The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Mt. 13, 43). Cf. Dn 12, 3. The archetype of the transfiguration is the Transfiguration of Jesus on Tabor (Mt. 17, 2), and after the Resurrection (cf. Acts 9, 3). The intrinsic reason for the transfiguration lies in the overflowing of the beauty of the transfigured soul on to the body. The grade of the transfiguration of the body, according to I Cor. 15: 41 et seq., will vary according to the degree of clarity of the soul, which is in proportion to the measure of the merits. Incorruptibility and immortality form an indispensable pre-condition for the eternal punishment of the body in hell (Mt. 18, 8 et seq). Immortality excludes the change of matter and functions associated with change of matter, but not possibility" (pp. 491-492).

As seekers of the Resurrected One, we also think of His appearance in St John' Gospel, Ch 21 when He breathes upon the Holy apostles (Remember: God breathed life into Adam (Gn ch. 2:7), creating him, and now God is re-awakening man-represented by the Apostles-by breathing the Holy Spirit into them). As Catholics we are privileged and graced to have the outward form of our Faith updated and developed thru different devotions and spiritualities. Read, now, some passages from the approved, private revelations to Saint Faustina Kawaulska, a Polish nun who brought us the Divine Mercy Chaplet and spirituality: "Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all will be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, page. 1059). "I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening in the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red, and the other pale.  After a while Jesus said to me: paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: 'Jesus, I trust in You' " (Diary, p. 47).

From an Ancient Christian Homily: "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner n hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi