April 11, 2012

The Gift Is Not Like The Trespass

As I was praying the Office of Readings this morning, it struck me how lovely it is to get to pray a Te Deum every day during this Easter Octave. The Easter Octave is like a week of Sundays; on each day there is a Te Deum in the Liturgy of the Hours and a Gloria in the Mass. Then another thought came to me: the six 'extra' singings of the Te Deum and Gloria on the Monday through Saturday of the Easter Octave recover the ones omitted on the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter. I'm also pretty confident that there are enough alleluias in the antiphons, hymns, and dismissals of the Easter Octave to make up for the alleluias omitted during Lent.

But Easter isn't just the Octave; it is a whole season of fifty days that is, as Athanasius put it, one great Sunday. At the end of it, I'm sure that we will have sung more alleluias than if the whole of the paschal cycle of Lent, Triduum, and Easter had just been thirteen more weeks of Ordinary Time. We end up with more than we gave up.

The Easter alleluia of the Church is superabundant; it goes far beyond the alleluia-silence of Lent. This reminds us that the death and Resurrection of Christ is not just a restorative remedy for the fallen creation. As one of my teachers used to put it, "the Incarnation is not plan B." The paschal mystery not only renders the sin of Adam 'completely destroyed' as the new English Exsultet sings it, but opens up to us and for us the infinite mystery of creativity and delight that we call the Blessed Trinity. The humanity of Christ, passing through all of the misery and alienation that we have insisted upon for ourselves with our sins, becomes the ladder and door by which we are invited to step into the divine life. We have only to allow our humanity to buried with his in baptism, that we might rise with our own humanity newly configured to his divinity.

The creation happens through the only-begotten Word precisely so that this Word might be incarnate in it, that the eternal and infinite dynamic of Love that we call the Father and the Son might share itself with even more superabundance.

Buried and raised with the new Adam, we find ourselves in an even more happy condition than the first Adam enjoyed in the original blessing. Even more than being restored to the happiness of unfallen creatureliness, we are drawn into the very life of God.

No comments: