Yes, my son, Christ is risen!
I have a close friend, a mother of six adults, who says the definition of wisdom is having a lot to say — and not saying it. I am always breaking this rule, which I suppose makes me a fool. But sometimes we have to speak from our hearts, even when we risk being misunderstood. Some saints were called “fools for Christ.” Perhaps one day I will have the great joy to be counted among them. Hence, this letter written on Easter Sunday:
My dearest son,
I wish I could share with you all the light, beauty and joy I have found since I entered the Catholic Church. I know your reluctance to believe “God is with us” springs from that universal question: If he’s with us, why is there so much suffering in the world?
It’s a great mystery. Certainly suffering as an end in itself is a horror. Yet when suffering points beyond itself — when suffering points to Christ on the cross — it becomes redemptive and even sanctifying. I held your beloved father’s hand as he died, so I know that tears and grief, when joined to Christ’s suffering on the cross, can even become somehow “sweet.” As long as I abide in his love, I know nothing can harm me — not pain, illness or old age. Not even death. For God is with us, not far away somewhere in the clouds. And he comes closest to us when we suffer. I know this to be true, for I have met him in the darkest nights.
Since Christ is risen and even death has been “disempowered” (to use a modern word), what have we left to fear? Disease, violence, fires, floods and other disasters can kill us. So what? With his death on the cross and his rising from the dead on the third day, Christ defeated death forever and has given us eternal life.
This is good news, indeed — such good news that modern minds, trapped in a turmoil of noise, gloom and despair, can hardly believe it! It sounds like a fairy tale. Look at all those people in the cemeteries. They’re dead, aren’t they?
Well, yes and no. Appearances can be deceptive. Unbelievably, the starlight in tonight’s sky left some of those stars hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Physicists tell us all objects in the world that appear so solid to us — the rocks, the trees, the Earth — are made up of invisible particles dancing in and out of existence.
Life is a mystery. Even the latest scientific discoveries leave us in awe. To believe those particles are dancing in and out of existence is to take life on faith and to view its beauty with wonder. To believe those people lying dead in the graves are both dead (in this visible world) and alive (in God’s eyes) must also be taken on faith.
Even gravity has to be taken on faith. You mean to tell me there’s an invisible force that anchors us to the Earth, and without it we’d fly off into outer space? That also sounds like a fairy tale. But whether or not you believe in gravity, you’re still the beneficiary of its goodness. You can’t escape from the goodness of gravity, nor can you escape from the goodness of God. For God holds us securely in the palm of his hand, just as gravity holds us securely to the Earth. And a thousand denials of reality can never make it untrue.
What you see as me taking too many “risks” (because I do so much lowly or unpaid work for the Church, when I could earn much more money) actually springs from the interior peace that comes from giving up worry. Before I found God (or, rather, before he found me, because he always takes the first step), I frequently worried about many things in the world. I was often afraid, a dangerous passion, for violence springs not from God, but from man’s fears. When we know and love God (I’m talking here about the true God, not some phantom we’ve made up in our heads), fear is transfigured into trust. You’re afraid I’ll remain poor as a church mouse and be destitute in my old age. But what you misperceive as me taking “too many financial risks” is actually my refusal to be afraid. His perfect love casts out fear.
I love you imperfectly, my son. And I’m sorry for that. Yet as Christ and his holy Mother reveal to us, the bond between a mother and son is sacred and cannot be easily broken, not in this life and not in the next. So let us set aside our differences and simply love one another with cheerful hearts, trusting that God will — and already has — taken care of everything. Christ is risen!
Kimberly Scott is a pseudonym for the author, who wishes to remain anonymous.