enamel of the resurrection by Nicholas of Verdun

Our Life Is the Cross and Resurrection

by Catherine Doherty

This Holy Week and Easter Week, I meditated much on the Cross and on the Resurrection. And I was struck at the power of the Liturgy to bring those two together. From the very beginning of Lent, the Liturgy of the Church brought us to Good Friday—her day of mourning, her day of loss.

Yet even during the Triduum of Holy Week, even on Good Friday itself, anyone attuned to the Liturgy—the Church’s school of love and knowledge—could sense that behind the darkness of Good Friday, the light of Easter was already shining.

Likewise, anyone could sense that even during the tremendous joy that filled the Church and her liturgy during Easter and Easter Week, the shadow of the Cross was not far away.

It came to me then, that this was the answer to our everyday, ordinary, Christian life. That this inter-weaving of light and darkness, of joy and sorrow, of pain and absence of it, was a pattern that the Church through her Liturgy brought before the eyes of her children to prepare them for the reality of their earthly lives.

It taught them beautifully and powerfully that the lot of human beings was this symphony of alternating pain and sorrow, joy and gladness.

Better than any psychiatrist, it pointed to the immense realties of life—never allowing her children to wander into a dream world of their own that would take them far away from the Cross and the Resurrection into a world of their own making, full of idols fashioned by their own hands, and oh, so dangerous to the welfare of their souls.

Through her liturgy, the Church, by pointing to the inseparableness of the Cross from the empty tomb, taught her children all about hope. Saying, in effect, that when things seem all wrong, practically hopeless, that’s the time when hope should be at its strongest.

For each one of us must have his Good Fridays. But we must remember that Good Friday is only the beginning of the story of Love. This story leads to Easter mornings, and eventually to the final Easter morning, to the homecoming, to the beatific vision.

At the same time, the Church through her liturgy teaches us that when we experience great moments of joy and gladness—which, of course, God in his mercy gives us, his beloved children, we must not expect that they will last all our lives.

For like the newly baptized catechumens of Early Christian times, we can wear our white robe of joy and gladness for just so long, and then life takes over again and we must appear in our everyday garments, shouldering our cross again, because through it, we shall know Christ. Through it, we will really become his followers; through it, we will achieve the real goal of our lives. Sanctity!

The Cross and Easter morning with the Resurrection of the Lord, Easter and the Cross are tremendous images given to us by the Church to teach us the way to the Father.

I thanked God for this meditation. It explains so much. It helped so much.

Adapted from Restoration, June 1962