Thursday, May 1, 2014

Living the Paschal Mystery

The paschal mystery is basic to our life as Christians. Life comes after death, not only physical death but the many other kinds of death that we experience. This paradox is accepted both in the East and the West. Not all that we accept as good is good nor is all that we see as bad is bad. We are not  surprised by these words. The 'happy fault' of our liturgy brings to our attention the birth of Christ. We die to ourselves to be born in Jesus. "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:25).

In the liturgy, we meditate on the passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord. We learn that new life comes from death. Nature shows us the way life comes from death. There is a light in the darkness. Even the daily sleep of death refreshes us for a new day. We are reborn every day. I am not the same person I was yesterday. This is a recurring theme in many of our works of art, our literature our movies  and daily lives. We read about this and enjoy the excitement that comes from the results of  something as negative as death. We can find meaning in tough times and are restrained in our  joy in the best of times. We are  enabled to go out to others and show compassion.

The Catholic Times gives us two examples of this death to life journey in two articles commemorating the Easter Feast Day. Stephen tells us of his experience of death."With the sound of the beep, I heard the doctor say, 'he has died'. My wife was crying, and I heard my close friend's words as he  was sending me on my way."

Twenty years earlier on his way home from work he fell unconscious and was taken to the emergency room of a hospital where he was pronounced dead and taken to the mortuary of the hospital. He doesn't remember how long after hearing the words in the emergency room of the hospital, but he woke up and walked out of the mortuary on his own.

He does remember  opening  his eyes in the mortuary and beginning  to breath and feeling the cool air in his lungs and realizing that he was alive. When he went to find the nurses, the hospital was in an uproar. His doctors and family came rushing to where he was. They gave him a Ringer's solution  which Stephen felt was bringing about a paralysis of the body, and he cried out. They removed the solution, and he was transferred to  a hospital bed. He experienced a miracle. He never returned to his work, and has  continued as a volunteer helping others in hospice  and in other volunteer works.   

The second article tells us the story of Angela, who  worked in a  place of pilgrimage to  Korean martyrs. She was living the middle-class lifestyle when three years ago everything came crashing down. Her husband planning to expand his business borrowed money to buy some land and everything took a turn for the worse. They were in great debt. They had to sell everything to pay the debt even the house in which they lived. It was a hopeless situation, and she desired death. There were cliffs on all four sides. If this happened when she was young it would have been different, but now she didn't know what to do.

She remembered the martyrs who got rid of everything and moved to the mountains to live. This idea that God was working through her difficulties to a new way of living began to take hold. This reflection on the martyrs enabled Angela to see life in a new way. She began to see her situation with different eyes. The family became closer together than ever before, they became more concerned for each other, and she found work to help the family along. She realized that not all the possibilities had been blocked. She was born again.

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