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The Resurrection Puts Everything Together Again | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | The Resurrection of the Lord | April 4, 2010
The events of recent weeks—the enormous concentration
of power now vested in the Executive Branch of our Government, the effective
lack of checks and balances, the cost of it all—sometimes make the truths
of faith seem irrelevant. This sense of helplessness is exponentially increased
for many when they realize that those who call themselves Catholics have played
a central role in bringing about this increasing absolute rule among us. We
might be somewhat consoled if this were a system imposed upon us by some alien
or demonic power. But, at bottom, it is the result of free choices of
presumably otherwise normal citizens. We also might console ourselves that it
may not be as bad as it looks were it not for the suspicion that it is in fact
much worse. We just do not want to know.
Catholics could have prevented this radical political
turning, but in fact many were and are supportive, indeed enthusiastically so.
The key issues of the faith are no longer considered to be basic public issues.
The teaching authority of the Church, even when it is clear, is ignored or
relativized. We are encouraged to "move on." Generally, this admonition means
accepting or accommodating ourselves to what are now taken to be settled facts
no matter what they are.
We are becoming like Jews and Christians in Muslim lands. If
we politely agree to have no effect in the public order, if we submissively pay
the taxes to support this new system, we will be allowed to survive after a
fashion. We can have a private, not a public presence.
Easter, the commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ,
goes on, of course, no matter in what the social or political order in which we
find ourselves. The teaching of Easter is needed if we would make ultimate
sense of our lives. Intellectual history, in one sense, is a desperate effort
to find a sensible alternative explanation to Christian revelation. The modern
mind is, in a way, embarrassed that it has not come up with such an alternative
that makes as much ultimate sense as the Resurrection. But, of course, this
teaching is the consequence of a fact that happened not of our own making. We
might, in some sense, say that it was prophesized to happen, but that does not
change the astonishing fact.
Various theories are proposed to explain why the
Resurrection "cannot" be true or could not have happened. We have historical
analyses seeking to demonstrate that Christ did not exist. Or if He did, He was
only human. The evidence of His resurrection is called unreliable. The Apostles
dreamed it up after the fact.
Then we have the scientific theories, all of which strive to
prove that this doctrine is incoherent, that it lacks evidence that can be
repeated or tested in a laboratory.
We have psychological theories which reduce the objective
order to wishes or dreams. Volumes have been filled with endeavors to "prove"
that this event could not have happened, did not happen, or may not happen.
The truth of the Resurrection, however, is seen as a
critique of the actual public order, which it is. The fact and teaching of the
Resurrection of Christ and of our own as a result are, none the less, teachings
independent of the historical time or place we now live. They belong to the
order of things that will happen whether we believe it or not. Nothing—no
political or social order—will be more important than the understanding
of our being implied in resurrection. This reality teaches us what each of us
is. The Creed says that "we believe in the resurrection of the body and life
We can rightly assume that the teaching of the resurrection
of the body is a minority opinion. We can also suspect that few see any
relation between how we live our lives and what this doctrine is about. It has
been the abiding task of the teaching Church to relate doctrine to practice.
Things will not "go" rightly if we do not live rightly. We will generally not
live rightly if we do not think rightly.
We are given intelligence in order that we might understand
what we are. We are given freedom in order that, understanding what we are, we
might choose to be what we are. This combination of reason and liberty results
in the possibility of our choosing to reject what we are.
Why would we reject what we are? We would do it if we did
not want to be what we are intended to be. We can only choose this rejection if
we think we can come up with something better. We are inclined to think this
way when we suspect that the kind of being and end that we are given interferes
with something we think we want.
We will thus reject what we are in order to establish a way
of life and explanation that depends on nothing but ourselves. "As man grows up
and becomes emancipated, he wants to liberate himself from this submission and
become free and adult, able to organize himself and make his own decisions,
even thinking he can do without God," Benedict XVI recently observed.
"Precisely this state is delicate and can lead to atheism, yet even this
frequently conceals the need to discover God's true Face" (L'Osservatore
Romano, English, March 17, 2010).
Paradoxically, the rejection of God can be, in another
sense, a seeking for the Face of God. The very rejection of God implies that we
search for an alternative that includes the rejection of what is said to be the
Christian God. This alternative will never be complete. The celebration of
Easter always implies an understanding of what we are and of what the world is
that makes more sense than the alternatives when we see them spelled out and
lived out. The resurrection will seem preposterous until we think about it.
We might propose an alternate "creed." Thus, "I do not
believe in God; He did not 'create' the heaven and the earth. Christ did not
rise again. Man will not be risen again either. He will not be judged. He will
complete his life at the end of his days however it happens. Nothing will be
heard of him again. His existence meant nothing to anybody including to himself
or to a 'God.' His highest aspirations are to be left alone in the Cosmos for
the fleeting moments of his existence."
The resurrection of the body puts things together again. It
restores our face to the Face of God as we see in Christ. What strikes us about
the Apostles, those curious men, was that after the Resurrection of Christ,
they rushed to "see," to "hear," to "touch." They even "smelled" the fish being
grilled on the seashore. They "tasted" it. They did not begin from some theory.
Whatever theory they may have had ahead of time, they doubted. Their own
"theory" began with what they saw and heard.
We do not know what percentage of human beings who will come
into existence on this planet are already dead having been initially judged,
awaiting the judgment that puts it all together. Christ will come to judge the
living and the dead. He, having been crucified, died, was buried, and rose
again. He told us that we were made to follow Him.
Nothing better has been proposed to us. It is not a myth. It
is based on the fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. Our minds
keep coming back to this fact if we would know what we are. The world is
composed of those who know what they are and those who are afraid to know what
they are if it involves even their own resurrection.
Yet, in nothing else is there hope. This is what Easter is
Related Ignatius Insight Articles, Essays, and Excerpts:
The Truth of the Resurrection |
Excerpts from Introduction to Christianity | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Balthasar, his Christology, and the Mystery of Easter |
Introduction to Hans Urs von Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale | Aidan Nichols O.P.
For Us | Hans Urs von Balthasar
of Suffering, The Response of the Cross | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Christ, the Priest, and Death to Sin | Blessed Columba Marmion
The Church Tells Us the Story of God | Fr. Richard Janowicz
Immortality, Resurrection of the Body, Memory | Fr. James V.
Schall, S.J. | Easter 2009
Resurrection and Real Justice | Fr. James V.
Schall, S.J. | Easter 2008
Easter: The Defiant Feast | Fr. James V.
Schall, S.J. | Easter 2006
Easter Delivers Us From Evil | Carl E. Olson
The Easter Triduum: Entering into the Paschal Mystery | Carl E. Olson
The Paradox of Good Friday | Carl E. Olson
James V. Schall, S.J., is Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown
He is the author of numerous books on social issues, spirituality, culture,
and literature including Another
Sort of Learning, Idylls
and Rambles, A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning,
The Life of the Mind (ISI, 2006),
The Sum Total of Human
Happiness (St. Augustine's Press, 2007), and The Regensburg Lecture (St. Augustine's Press, 2007).
His most recent book from Ignatius Press is
The Order of Things (Ignatius Press, 2007). His new book, The Mind That Is Catholic: Philosophical and
Political Essays, is now available from The Catholic University Press. Read more of his essays on his
the Insight Scoop Blog and read the latest posts and comments by
IgnatiusInsight.com staff and readers about current events, controversies,
and news in the Church!
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