Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ Is Risen

(I)F THERE IS ONE institution in the world which, by common consent of its friends and foes, is rooted in the past, indifferent , when it is not hostile, to this feverish propaganda of innovation all around it, it is the Catholic Church. During the last three days we have been assisting at ceremonies which have plunged us back into our Christian past; ceremonies which in part, I suppose, have come down to us almost from the catacombs. We have heard the Church, as she prayed over us, suddenly breaking away from the Latin which is her native tongue and take refuge in Greek, like a very old man who, in his second childhood, remembers the language of his youth; we have heard snatches of chants long disused, seen the survivals of ceremonies which belong to an older world than ours. Still, obstinately, the Church takes refuge in her remote past while she announces to us complacently: "Christ is risen; all things are made new."

So much her friends admit; her enemies are not slow to add that she herself is nothing better than a cumbrous survival, an institution, once great, that has outlived its usefulness, ripe for the scrap-heap. Kept going, who knows how? Partly from sentimental loyalty; partly from the force of long habit, but ... Her vitality is profound, witnessed from age to age not by revolutions or new deals, but by the fresh shoots of devotion and charity which she puts forth continually, age after age. It is always spring with her, hers is a perpetual youth; she has but to remember the three words, "Christ is risen", and with the very sound of them, all things are made new.

That spring, that youth, belong as of right, not only to the Church at large, but to the life of the individual Christian ... in the life of grace, ah, if we could only see it, there is a perpetual burgeoning of new life, not merely from one Easter to another, from one retreat to another, but with every worthy reception of the sacraments. Perpetual spring, perpetual renovation of our natures, if we could only catch the hour of grace, utilize it, make it our own. Whatever you are, and at whatever time of life you are, that possibility of spiritual renewal is with you no less surely than if you were a boy at school again, or just leaving school to make your way in the world. Christ is risen; those tidings can neither lose their force with age, nor be staled by repetition; Christ is risen, and life, for the Christian, is always new.

- Ronald A. Knox

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