From the Pastor: He Is Risen But She Isn’t Doing So Well
Happy Easter, everyone! After a late Lent, it is finally time to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. He conquered death for us, something impossible for us to do without Him, as much as we try. When God created us, He gave us life. When we abandoned Him through sin, we chose death. But then we decided that we didn’t like death too much so we have been trying, unsuccessfully, to discover ways of living forever. Most of the time these attempts are done with God purposefully excluded from the equation. We have tried X + Y = eternal life; X - Y = eternal life; (X + 2√Y) / 3(A - B)⁵ = eternal life; (and every other equation we could find. X is our mortal life as we already have it. Y could be “diet” as in “add this food to your diet and you will live forever!” or “Don’t eat this food group and you will remain always young!” Y and the other variables could also be the Fountain of Youth, exercise, medicine, yoga, surgery, genetic manipulation, or any other number of supposed “cures” for death. About the only variable which cannot be added (and must be immediately subtracted should some dumb ox dare to mention it) is union with the one, true God. Oh, how foolish and stubborn we are!
The Catholic Church teaches and we must be absolutely sure of this: the answer (eternal life) will be achieved with or without God on the X side of the equation. If achieved with Him, it will be wonderful beyond our wildest imagination. If achieved without Him, it will be more dreadful than our worst nightmare. Sure, the Church never put this teaching quite like I just did. She teaches with much more eloquence, as in the following: “God created us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” “Why,” you might ask, “is it necessary to know God?” A fine answer would be: “It is necessary to know God because without knowing Him we cannot love Him; and without loving Him we cannot be saved. We should know Him because He is infinitely true; love Him because He is infinitely beautiful; and serve Him because He is infinitely good.” Yes, Holy Mother Church teaches in just such a succinct and beautiful way in the Baltimore Catechism #3, questions 150 and 151.
What non-believers fail to understand is that God created us to be immortal so we are all assured of eternal life! Yes, we see death all around us and throughout history. We are not blind to that reality. Those who reject Divine Revelation chalk up death to purely natural causes. When the body is dead, the person is dead as far as they are concerned. Catholics, on the other hand, know that bodily death comes about due to sin rather than nature. We also know that the human soul is immortal and survives the death of the body. Furthermore, we know that, as happened with Our Lord’s previously dead body on Easter Sunday, all the human corpses, no matter their state of decomposition or even complete disintegration with a dispersed scattering of minute particles, will rise again at the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we all will rise again, body and soul, complete human beings. Some, the Saints, will rise glorified. Most, the damned, will rise hideous. Glorified bodies will share 5 qualities (BC #3, Q. 409). “1. Brilliancy, by which it gives forth light; 2. Agility, by which it moves from place to place as rapidly as an angel; 3. Subtility, by which material things cannot shut it out; 4. Impassibility, by which it is made incapable of suffering.” Can you imagine? Wow! In contrast, those who die separated from God will live eternally separated from Him. While in this world they might have been able to convince themselves that they didn’t need Him for happiness, Judgment Day will clarify what they have willingly and knowingly (even if only through culpable ignorance) given up. “The damned will suffer in both mind and body, because both mind and body had a share in their sins. The mind suffers the ‘pain of loss’ in which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the ‘pain of sense’ by which it is tortured in all its members and senses” (BC #3, Q. 1380). So everyone has eternal life, but each has a choice of spending it in Heaven or in Hell. Choose wisely!
I leave you now with this. The “She” who isn’t doing so well as stated in the title of this article is Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Unlike humans, who will live forever, buildings, even Churches, have limited lives. But like humans, they can sometimes be good and sometimes be bad, in a manner of speaking. She was built some 800 years ago and was beautiful beyond compare at that time. She was later desecrated in the 1790’s during the French Revolution and turned into the “Temple of Reason” as paganism sought to destroy Catholicism in a so-called “Enlightenment.” She survived and later was rebuilt in the mid 19th century to be even more magnificent than before. But the Faith was never restored to the country. And now the State-owned building (She doesn’t belong to the Church!) will be rebuilt in line with modern French values, according to a report from the Macron government. A Catholic/Muslim/”Nones”/Secular-humanist/Pagan hybrid? Please pray that True Faith triumphs!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka