St. Benedict in his Rule, chapter 49, On the Observance of Lent, says, and I quote:
"In other words, let each one deny himself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing."
Now that we have celebrated the solemnity of Easter and continue to celebrate this special feast until the solemnity of Pentecost on May 27, 2012, can we truly say that we are experiencing the joy of Easter during all these days? St. Benedict also says at the beginning of Chapter 49 that "The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent." If that is true, surely St. Benedict also wants those who follow his Rule to also experience the joy of Easter, not only during the Easter season, but all throughout the year. Every Sunday of the year can be said to be a "little Easter." as we recall the resurrection of Jesus.
So often in the liturgy during the Easter season, the word joy is used. I would like to from part of an Easter Homily that was given by an ancient author. It can be found in the Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II, the Lenten and Easter volume, within the Octave of Easter, office or Readings.
"St. Paul rejoices in the knowledge that spiritual health has been restored to the human race. Death entered the world through Adam, he explains, but life has been given back to the world through Christ. Again, he says: The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven and is heavenly. As we have borne the image of the earthly man, the image of human nature grown old in sin, so let us bear the image of the heavenly man; human nature raised up, redeemed, restored and purified in Christ."
Later the author goes on to say in this homily: "Here, then, is the grace conferred by these heavenly mysteries, the gift which Easter brings, the most longed for feast of the year; here are the beginnings of creatures newly formed; children born from the life-giving font of holy Church…. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad."
Easter is the day that brings us real life and, yes, even eternal life. What greater need is there for finding joy in our lives?
I have always liked these words from St. Paul (I Cor. 15:-12-19) "But, if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty too, your faith…..For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain, you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only, we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all."
These are some pretty strong words from St. Paul. Words, however, that should help us to rejoice during these days of Easter and know what great love God has shown to us.