He is not here!

Alice Claire Mansfield (1994)

Easter triumph, Easter joy! The Lord is truly risen, and all creation rejoices in gratitude and praise. Those Lent-suppressed alleluia's can no longer be held back any more than our Easter joy can be contained. Easter is a splendid celebration of Jesus Christ's blessed passover from death to life. His cross is no longer a symbol of shame, humiliation and death but rather one of sure hope and glorious resurrection.

I remember a very special Easter morning back in the sixties when I was a young novice with the Springfield Franciscans in Illinois. My father, then in his seventies, had come to spend Easter weekend with us at the Motherhouse. Early Sunday morning, a lovely day fresh with the newness of spring, I went to the front door to let Daddy in for Mass. He stood there on the doorstep, radiant with joy, his eyes shining with tears, and he quietly said to me, "He is not here. He is risen, as He foretold." My eyes filled with tears and my heart leaped for joy as I hugged Daddy gently, exulting in his Easter proclamation.

Daddy, my dear father -- whose own father died while Daddy was yet in his mother's womb -- who yearned all his life to be a priest but stayed home instead to take care of Gramma Annie, his blind and ailing mother -- who later married a beautiful, vivacious woman who died just 10 years later, leaving him to raise two young girls -- Daddy, who had often trod "the royal road of the Holy Cross" without complaint or protest, trusting completely in his beloved Lord and Master, could only proclaim the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. That was how Daddy lived for 81 years, and what a lasting impression it has made upon me.

Yes, we do suffer in this life. Some of us carry crosses in secret, known to God alone. But if we walk that royal road of the Holy Cross with generous, confident hearts, we have cause to rejoice for we are being led, step by step, by our Risen Lord, who has overcome all things and empowers us to share in His victory of life over death. By the grace of His Resurrection, may our very lives be an Easter proclamation to the whole world. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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