Easter brings hope.

When Jesus met with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Cleopas says to the Risen Lord, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Lk 24:21). The irony puts a smile on our faces, as we say to the hapless Cleopas, “He has redeemed Israel.”

Nonetheless, on the occasion of this Holy Week, troubling news has curtailed the joy of Easter.

Image by LeLaisserPasserA38 CC BY-SA 4.0

Fire at Notre Dame

Watching Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze, I felt as though my own home was on fire, wondering if members of my family were trapped inside.

Regular readers of The Narrow Gate will have immediately recognized the symbolism of the Notre Dame fire. Perhaps even more than Rome, the Cathedral of Paris is a symbol of Christendom, out of which Western Civilization grew and spread.

Schools, hospitals, universities, scientific method, democracy, human rights, art and architecture flourished and became the rule. Thankfully, Notre Dame has not been destroyed, but, for a while, it teetered.

Western society is teetering, is it not?

Image By AntanO – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Attacks in Sri Lanka

The death toll in Sri Lanka reportedly stands at 290 at the time of this writing, the result of coordinated suicide bombings by Islamic extremists on Easter Sunday. St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo was among the targeted holy sites.

Images of girls, who were killed in the attacks, wearing their First Holy Communion dresses, highlighted the wanton savagery and explained why the Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo referred to the terrorists as “worse than animals.”

Jesus, you are our hope

Our grieving, though, does not cancel out the truth, no sin is greater than the Redeemer’s sacrifice and love.

Jesus’ little martyrs give amplified witness to the words of St Paul, heard in the Easter Vigil liturgy, “If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection” (Rom 6:5).

Through the haze of the Notre Dame drama, the entire world saw crystal-clear, the illuminated Cross over the miraculously preserved high altar, and heard resolute, youthful voices singing hymns in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary as they made a prayerful pilgrimage to the centre of Paris.

As I pause and reflect on this year’s Holy Week, three questions linger in my mind:

1. Will I honour these sacrifices, or will I forget?

Will I honour the heroism of Fr Fournier, who rescued the Blessed Sacrament and the holy relic of the crown of thorns from the burning cathedral? Or will I be tempted to forget the sacrifice of First Holy Communion martyrs when I prepare to receive Holy Communion myself?

2. Will I speak out?

Comments of the Archbishop of Colombo, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, no doubt viewed as incendiary by those who identified victims as “Easter worshippers”, also confirmed that the holy relic of St Anthony’s tongue was rescued and preserved. St Anthony of Padua was known as the Hammer of Heretics. Neither St Anthony nor the cardinal remained silent when truth came under attack. Will I?.

3. Will I place all my hope in Jesus?

The Pelagian impulse clings tenaciously. But it wasn’t me who died on the Cross and rose from the dead. It was Jesus who abandoned himself to the will of the Father. While He wants me to take seriously the demands of discipleship, He is the beginning and end of this story; the Alpha and Omega. “All time belongs to him; and all the ages. To him be glory and power through every age and for ever. Amen.” (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil, Roman Rite) Will I remember and live by that hope?

What are your thoughts? What are your resolves? Where is your Hope?

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