Easter Vigil Homily: Abbot Thomas Frerking, OSB
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night
Dear friends, we come now to the high point of the Sacred Triduum, the first proclamation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe the Resurrection on the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who has revealed his Resurrection to us, he who is the Son of God, he who is God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. He revealed it to his apostles by prophesying it before his death and by showing himself alive to them after his death by many evidences during forty days. He has revealed it to us by instructing his apostles to proclaim it to others and to instruct their successors, the bishops of his Church, to proclaim it, and so on, down to the present time, and by causing the proclamation of the apostles and their successors to be accompanied by the fulfillment of prophecy and by miracles, the two sure signs that the proclamation is the revelation of God. In our own time, we know that the proclamation of the Church is the revelation of God because, by grace, we recognize, what even the natural reason is capable of recognizing, although only with much difficulty, that the Church itself, in Head and members, is the fulfillment of all prophecy, and that the oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church are a moral miracle perduring through the ages. Here are the sure signs that the Church’s proclamation is the revelation of God. We believe the Resurrection, then, with supreme certainty.
What is the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead? It is the resurrection of his body from death and the reuniting of his body to his soul, so that the whole of his human nature is living again. But, it is not the resurrection of his body and soul to the earthly life he had been living before, but rather their resurrection to the state of glory; that is, his body, although remaining a true body, is no longer subject to pain and suffering, is no longer subject to death, and is now the perfect vehicle of his soul, and his soul, which, because he is the Son of God, had enjoyed already in his earthly life the Beatific Vision, the vision of God as he is in himself, is now utterly filled and informed by that vision.
What is the effect of Jesus’s Resurrection on us? The Lord’s Resurrection, operating on us by means of the sacraments, in this life causes our soul to rise from the death of sin to the new life of grace, of sharing in the nature of God – this is especially the effect of Baptism; causes our soul to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to act and to give witness by his gifts – this is especially the effect of Confirmation; and causes our soul already to possess eternal life and to abide in the Lord and he in our soul – this is especially the effect of the Eucharist. The Lord’s resurrection in the life to come, where the sacraments have their ultimate effect, causes our soul to enter into the state of glory, and causes our body to rise from the dead, to be reunited to our soul, and also, together with our soul, to enter into the state of glory; causes us, filled in glorified soul and body with the Holy Spirit, to reign with the Lord; and brings us into the fullness of communion with the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and with one another in the Triune God, in joy infinite and eternal.
In the face of these glorious and utterly saving truths, what is there to do but to shout for joy, to praise and give thanks to God, to receive a renewal of the Lord’s salvation and to proclaim his salvation to others? So in this Easter Vigil, the greatest of the Church’s solemnities, with joy and praise and thanksgiving, we renew our Baptismal vows, we commemorate our Confirmation, we receive the Most Holy Eucharist, and, through the liturgies we celebrate, and through the testimony of our lives, through all the fifty days of this glorious Easter Season, we proclaim to the world and to all creation:
Christus surrexit! Surrexit vere!
Christ is risen! He is truly risen!