instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Am I an Easter people?

Easter is certainly the major liturgical event that best suits my temperament, but there are circumstances in which it doesn't suit my temperament at all to be told, "We are an Easter people." As a rule, these circumstances feature the imposition of cheeriness, which imposition someone feels is being resisted by those who don't think being an Easter people means we're always cheery.

Here I need to distinguish between cheeriness and cheerfulness. The former is a certain shared emotion -- "I'm glad you're happy"/"I'm happy you're glad." The latter is a disposition caused by the joy produced in the soul by the Holy Spirit. The former is incompatible with sorrow; the latter is not.

So if by, "We are an Easter people," someone means, "Christ is risen! And so, one day, shall we be risen!," I can only answer, "Alleluia!"

But if he means, "Christ is risen! So your sins don't matter," or, "So don't dwell on His death," or, "So stop being sad," I can only answer, "I may be an Easter people, but I also haven't quite finished my Good Friday."

There's an odd dynamic at work here. It was on Good Friday that Mary's hope in God's word was perfected, when all natural expectation that might have adulterated it was extinguished. Yet it is Easter which perfects our own hope, as a promise of our own resurrection. But our own resurrection is only promised to be desireable if we take up our crosses and follow Christ. Jesus' resurrection gives us the hope by which we embrace our own crucifixion. If we are an Easter people, we must also be a Good Friday people; that's what being an Easter people means.