Merely days ago, I graduated at long last with my MA in Catholic Studies from Christian Brothers University. Treasuring as I do all that I learned, the professors that taught me, and my classmates, all of whom became friends, the graduation itself, while welcomed, was also bittersweet in that it was an ending of a process and way-of-living I had grown accustomed to. As my name was called and I began my walk across the stage to greet President Smarrelli and have conferred upon me that degree I had so long been working towards, I at once felt my heart leap within my chest for joy while simultaneously, it sank. As happy as I was and remain to be that the persons in attendance on my behalf were present, the one I most hoped to be was not.
Just one week after Easter, the wonderful woman I was dating and I had a long discussion. You can probably imagine where this is going. The stress of a long-distance relationship had taken its toll on the both of us, not to mention the effects of poor timing in life. There I was graduating with my masters as she still had some undergraduate coursework to complete. Sure, the parting after nine months was and remains to be difficult, but at least it was amicable. Still, we pray for, hope the best for, and every-so-often communicate to share high and low points about our lives.
Losing persons we love whether to death or emotional distance is a living nightmare. But, you don't need any degree to know how true this is. In the "swirl" of emotions that have consumed me in the past weeks, I have found some stability, consolation, and peace by remembering what should have been most obvious of all: It's STILL Easter! That is significant.
Easter means not only the Resurrection of the Lord God in the flesh but also all that that implies. It means sorrow turned to joy; the defeat of everlasting death; evidence of promises kept; and a forward-looking hope of unceasing newness and reconciliation.
Consider this: If Jesus, having said and promised and taught all He did, would have died that fateful Good Friday and remained dead, then that's it. That's where history would've ended. His claims, teachings, promises, and words would've been those of someone we could have conceivably labeled as either a liar or a lunatic. But, as we know, that's not where history ends.
In fact, because of the Resurrection of Love Himself, history will have no end. In rolling away that stone from the tomb that very first Easter, God, in the fullness of the Trinity, also forever opened the dawn to what I like to call "Eternal Easter." And the literal "saving grace" is this: the way to "Eternal Easter" is "the Way" (Jn. 14:6) Himself. We can and will, by belief in Jesus and in all He taught, promised, and fulfilled attain to the everlasting stability, consolation, and peace of "Eternal Easter."
The same One who first rose from the dead enables, invites and promises for us a share in that very same sort of Resurrection. The Holy Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are in line-step on this, to be sure. Those who believe in Christ and die in His friendship "shall surely also share in a resurrection like His." (Rom. 6:5) So, if Jesus would never have risen, all bets are off. But, once again, because He has, so also shall we.
That said, the Resurrection of Jesus utterly decimates doubt that "this life" is all there is. I, for one, couldn't go on were it not for my longing to share in "Eternal Easter." His Resurrection means that all He said, taught and showed us by practical example was, is and will be fulfilled. He made promises, and the Resurrection is proof positive that He intends to keep every single word of those promises, including one He made to St. John.
"Behold, I make all things new!" Jesus says this to St. John in the final vision recorded in Revelation 21:5. This is pivotal because He showed us in His own Resurrection that He has the power, integrity and intention to do just this; that is, to restore life to what it should be and once was before "the fall" of Adam and Eve.
Just before Jesus says this to John, John reports what he sees. The angels gathered around Christ's throne in Heaven proclaim aloud this sweet comfort: "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4) This is not only the reality of the life ahead in Heaven with Jesus, but this is also the reality of Easter.
Heaven, then, dear sisters and brothers, is "Eternal Easter." There, no longer will death be; lost love and friendships will be forever restored such that nothing and no one can again separate them; and perhaps most importantly, the same God who raised Jesus from death, who created all that is from out of nothing, will dissolve away into nothingness all that separates us from joy and the fullness of life.
And so, yes, for some time, we must endure "life's Good Fridays and Holy Saturdays," but we can do so with a holy longing and a confident assurance that what awaits us is the brightest of Sundays that is "Eternal Easter."
For more about Anthony Maranise go to www.amaranis.wixsite.com/amjm