--A note for the reader by Lukas McCamden.
Easter is a season best celebrated with others. I can say for the first time in forty years that I have done just that, for the celebration of new life is not quite complete without another life to share it with. The celebration itself is as wondrous as it is mysterious--a dying God Who, by His death, led captivity captive and killed death itself, only to rise again and share His life with His children.
The concept was a mystery to me as a child, despite my relentless questioning of the seventy-eight learned men of God with whom I shared St. Anne's Monastery. To me, Easter was little more than the end of Lent. With the pantry now open and our return from one to two meals a day, it was quite easy for my stomach to get ahead of my devotion to the Lord.
But it was on my fifteenth Easter that I learned the true meaning of the holiday. Just two days prior I had witnessed the massacre of the rest of my fellow monks, and I had received such a beating that twelve of my ribs were broken. Somewhere between the coughing up of blood and the physical pain that, to this day, has never fully left, I realized that Easter had set itself upon me. I will never forget the irony of the promise of new life in the face of so much death.
As I lay on the bed that had once belonged to my father, every painful breath reminding me of him (for even his bedclothes smelled of ink and the fields he worked), a thought struck me. While I had the joy (more or less) of physical life, my father now enjoyed eternal life. Just as Christ had died and risen again, so had my father risen--but not to the life I found myself in, with its consistent pain and struggle. No, my father had the joy of the Lord. And without Christ's sacrifice and, even more, his resurrection, he would not have had this hope. None of us would.
For anyone can die, and everyone will die. But it takes the power of God to rise again. Christ is "the firstborn among many brothers," as Paul told the Roman church, and His resurrection is the first of many. My spirit longs for the day that mine will occur.
For now, though, I am content to watch Alynn, resplendent in the dress Caitriona has made for her. Lent is over; the time for feasting has begun. And I praise God with the ringing of bells and singing of psalms, and with cries of "He has risen! He has risen indeed!"
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.