Sunday, April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

What Easter Should Mean for Us  - Our Hope is Eternal


I take this special opportunity to wish each and every one of you—and your families—a Joyous and Blessed Easter!  “Be not afraid, ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen.” [St. Mark 16]

Throughout Christendom, this day, along with the Nativity, is celebrated as a moment in time that forever changed mankind and history. Only the supreme sacrifice paid by Our Blessed Lord could satisfy the enormity of Original Sin, the sin of pride and rebellion. Only the spotless Victim, the very Son of God, could efface that stain and offer through His Sacrifice on the Cross, Redemption, and thus fulfill and complete the promises of the Old Testament. And only through the vehicle of the Immaculate and incorrupt Mary, Blessed Virgin.

Yet, that battle for us is only half won. For although offered freely, that grace and redemption require both acceptance and resulting action on our part.  As the Apostle recounts (I Peter 5:8-10), we are strictly cautioned in words which have been sung in the night prayers [Compline] of Christians for centuries:

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls your brethren who are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you.

While sin and the snares of this world continue, these words offer assurance that God through His grace will protect us and give us the strength to persevere.

For over a thousand year, in most Christian churches in some form, there is a remarkable sung sequence which expresses the ineffable Joy of this day in history. It is the ancient hymn, VICTIMAE PASCALI LAUDES. It has been attributed to Wigbert of Burgundy (ca. 1050 A.D.), who was chaplain to the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II.

Here is the English translation, which I follow by a YouTube rendering in the ancient original Latin Gregorian, which I hope you will listen to:

Let Christians offer sacrificial 
praises to the passover victim.

The lamb has redeemed the sheep:
The Innocent Christ has reconciled
the sinners to the Father.

Death and life contended
in a spectacular battle:
the Prince of life, who died,
reigns alive.

Tell us, Mary, what did
you see on the way?

"I saw the tomb of the living Christ
and the glory of his rising,

The angelic witnesses, the
clothes and the shroud."

"Christ my hope is arisen;
into Galilee, he will go before his own."

Happy they who bear the witness 
Mary's word believing 
above the tales of Jewry deceiving.

We know Christ is truly risen from the dead!
To us, victorious King, have mercy!
Amen. Alleluia.

Our age is an age of dissolution, apostasy, and rebellion against man and God. To quote poet William Butler Yeats, who seems to have foreseen our times a century ago (1919):
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”

Yet, hope—our Hope—is never extinguished.

On September 11, 1683 nearly 300,00o fanatical Muslims under the command of Kara Mustafa, besieged the city of Vienna, defended by an allied army of around 60,000 beleaguered Christian knights. Who can forget the “miracle of the Kahlenburg Heights,” when the Winged Hussar cavalry of King John Sobieski of Poland swooped down on the Islamic horde and utterly routed them?

Christian Europe and the heritage our ancestors received as a precious legacy and inheritance were thus preserved; Kara Mustafa had vowed to take and destroy Vienna, and then water his horses in the Tiber River and “convert Notre Dame de Paris into a Mosque”!

It was undoubtedly the resilience and faith of Christians that saved Vienna—and Europe—back then.

Once again we are called forth to defend our faith and the civilization that our faith has over the centuries produced, for it is a civilization that at its best magnifies and glorifies that faith.

In my volume, The Land We Love, I close with a call to arms, to put on “the whole armour of God” and, although reduced to a remnant, go forth once again as knights of old, “in hoc signo vinces,” and under the sign of Cross, be victorious:

During this very special and holy season, let us think about our heritage, about the rich traditions and legacy entrusted to us. We may be few, but if we are committed, if we work intelligently and skillfully, each one of us doing what best he can do, then we can change the course of history, starting here and now.

That admonition may appear like no easy task. At times, it seems, despair reigns, and the questions arise: Why even try? Why attempt to reverse the apparent and irreversible movement — the tide — of history? And the response must come from deep within us: Because God is still in control of history — because we do not know what may happen — even the best laid plans and the surest theories and most predictable outcomes often do not materialize.

We can recall many such instances throughout recorded history. Who among respected observers and diplomats in July 1914 would have thought that in a little more than four short years three great European empires, dating back hundreds of years, would disappear from the face of the earth? Indeed, few predicted in 1923 that a jailed and obscure German war veteran and failed artist would, in less than eighteen years, come to dominate the European continent, if only for twelve years. Who would have dreamed in 1916 that Vladimir Lenin, in lonely exile in Switzerland, would in one short year become dictator of the world’s largest nation? And, then, who would have thought that the Communist system he created would suddenly expire ignominiously in a few short months in 1991, to quote T. S. Eliot, “not with a bang, but with a whimper?”

These lessons and many others spread out before us and offer a cautionary tale: history is not written by the pusillanimous or by timid souls, but by those who, even woefully outnumbered and seemingly destined for failure, seize the initiative and, like General Bedford Forrest, “get there first with the most,” those who keep high the standard of faith and conviction, those who believe that they can succeed and continue trying until, with God’s good help and His grace, they do succeed.

In the process, the path may be littered with the bodies of martyrs much like what happened to the great general Aetius — the last true Roman — and his legion on the plains of Gaul and in the valleys of the Rhone River in the waning days of the Roman Empire. But the prize is certainly worth it. To quote the Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno in his volume, The Tragic Sense of Life, “Our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in its turn begets hope.”

May the Blessings--and Hope--of Easter and the Risen Christ be yours!

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