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May 17, 2024 124 Father Augustine Wetta O.S.B, USA
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Certainty in Uncertain Times

A one-stop solution to all the problems in the world!

Christus surrexit! Christus vere surrexit! Christ is risen! Christ is truly risen!

Nothing expresses the ecstatic joy of Easter more charmingly than the image of Peter, falling out of the boat in his excitement to reach Jesus. On Easter Sunday, we get the triumphant, even triumphalist declaration of Jesus that we are God’s children now. There is no reaction so ecstatic that it could match the magnitude of the miracle.

Is it sufficient?

The other day, I was discussing all this with one of the wise old monks in our monastery (senpectae, we call them—the ‘old-hearts’). Something he said struck me deeply: “Yes! A story like that makes you want to tell someone about it.” I kept coming back to his phrase: “…makes you want to tell someone about it.” It does.

However, another one of my friends had a different point of view: “What makes you think you’re right about all this? Don’t you think it’s just arrogant to expect that your religion is sufficient for everybody?”

I’ve been thinking about both the comments.

I don’t want to just share this story; I want to convince other people because it’s more than a story. It’s the answer to everyone’s problems. This story is THE GOOD NEWS. “There is no salvation in anyone else,” says Saint Peter, “there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) So, I guess I have to admit that I’m right on this one, this news needs to be shared!

Should that strike you as arrogant?

Fact is, if the story of Christ’s Resurrection isn’t true, then my life has no meaning—and more than that, life itself has no meaning because I, as a Christian, am in a uniquely difficult position. My faith hinges on the truth of one historical event. “If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in vain,” says Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 15:14-20).

What You Need to Know

Some people call this ‘The Scandal of Particularity.’ It’s not a matter of whether or not this is ‘true for me’ or ‘true for you.’ It’s a question of whether it’s true at all. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then no other religion, no other philosophy, no other creed or conviction is sufficient. They might have some of the answers, but when it comes to the single, most important event in the history of the world, they all fall short. If, on the other hand, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead—if His Resurrection is not a historical fact—then we all need to stop this foolishness right now. But I know He did, and if I’m right, then people need to know.

This brings us to the darker side of this message: as much as we want to share the Good News, and despite the guarantee that it will triumph in the end, we will find, to our immense disappointment, that, more often than not, the message will be rejected. Not just rejected. Ridiculed. Slandered. Martyred. “The world does not know us,” cries Saint John, “just as the world did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1)

Yet what joy it is to know! What joy there is in faith! What joy there is in the hope of our own resurrection! What joy to come to the realization that when God became man, suffered on the cross for our salvation and triumphed over death, He offered us a share in the Divine life! He pours out sanctifying grace upon us in the Sacraments, starting with Baptism. When He welcomes us into His family, we truly become brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing in His Resurrection.

How do we know it’s true? That Jesus is risen? Perhaps it’s the witness of millions of martyrs. Two thousand years of theology and philosophy explore the consequences of belief in the Resurrection. In saints like Mother Teresa or Francis of Assisi, we see a living testimony to the power of God’s love. Receiving Him in the Eucharist always confirms it for me as I receive His living presence and He transforms me from within. Maybe, in the end, it’s simply joy: that ecstatic ‘unsatisfied desire that is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.’ But when push comes to shove, I know that I am willing to die for this belief—or better yet, to live for it: Christus surrexit. Christus vere surrexit. Christ is truly risen! Alleluia!

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Father Augustine Wetta O.S.B

Father Augustine Wetta O.S.B is a Benedictine monk who serves as chaplain to the Saint Louis Priory School. He is the author of “The Eighth Arrow” and “Humility Rules.” Father Augustine lives in Saint Louis Abbey at Saint Louis, Missouri.

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