Gospel. Mark xvi. 1-7. At that time: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought sweet spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. Who saith to them: Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: He is risen, He is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he told you.
No longer are there tears in our eyes; no longer are heard wailings of grief, but hymns of the greatest joy. Our Lord is risen. Jesus, the good God, is risen glorious and triumphant from the tomb. Let us rejoice! Let those tremble and despair who are His enemies! The Jews bragged of the success of their execrable work; but their triumph is short. They did not see that all this happened to Our Lord, because He desired it so. They triumphed for a while, when they had shut up His body in the tomb, but Christ, full of life and immortal, now passes through the stone vault and is truly risen. He is indeed risen and endowed with greater beauty; clothed in light, like that of the sun; the crown of thorns is changed into a beautiful diadem, the wounds into signs of victory; the blasphemies of the Jews into the exultation of the angels; His sorrowful death into a most happy life. O day of happiness for the whole earth! “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us exult and rejoice therein.” What fruit shall we draw from this feast? It is this: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead to die no more; so also when we rise from our death of sin, we should die no more, but continue in the life of grace.
It is a fact that many rise from the sleep of death during these days of the paschal joy; because the Church has made an express law that every Catholic must go to confession and communion at Easter. Therefore many, obedient to the law, confess, bewail their sins and promise to remain faithful to the graces of a new life. Many, however, are not steadfast; a few days have scarcely passed before they forget, and by sin fall back again into death. Have such really risen? It appeared as if they had, but if they had been really converted they would certainly not have fallen back into sin so easily and in so short a time.
I should like to believe that all you, my dear young friends, who have gone to confession, have really made up your minds not to fall into sin again. Just think what a terrible thing it is to be in the state of moral death; by sin you become an enemy of God and you cease to be the brother of Jesus Christ. The character of the soul is goodness; and so beautiful is it that God loves it and takes special delight in it. You are by Baptism brothers of Jesus Christ, associates of the angels, of the Blessed Virgin and the saints in heaven. It is worth your while, then, my dear young people, to preserve with the greatest care the purity which you have again acquired by the use of the sacraments. Unhappy beings, if you become bad again, you are throwing away your last chance of salvation; it is very hard to rise from the state of sin to life; the devil will make every effort to hold on to you; he will redouble his watchfulness, will strengthen his net about you, will double the chains that already bind you. He will send his servants to you, who will surround you in such a manner that nothing good can come near you. He will make the life of a sinner seem most delightful, so that in your blindness you would not change it if you could. That is the great difficulty–that we are our own obstacles. We would not love God if we could, we would not serve Him if we could–such are the machinations of the devil to keep you in his service. So you see it is not as easy as you think to return to God. Without grace we can do nothing, and we cannot run to Him and stay away from Him at will. When God has seen you unfaithful to Him several times, after having been saved by His mercy, He will no longer give you those extraordinary graces which brought you out of your evil ways heretofore; now He will let you go, He will abandon you as a thoroughly worthless subject.
From these considerations you can gather that it is most important for us to be in the state of grace, for on it our salvation depends. It is also very essential never to think lightly of the state of grace, not to let it go and come as we often do in the Sacrament of Penance; we return again and again to confession accusing ourselves of the same sins, and thus we continue until the day of our death. When once we have risen as Christ has risen, to die no more, we also must begin a new life. If in the past we have been so fond of the world that we thought of nothing else, now in our new life we must live with Jesus Christ; we will renounce the world to flee from those unlawful pleasures, to lead a celestial life, to be in heaven rather than upon this earth. “If you have risen with Christ, relish the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Do not run after the pleasures of this world with such a relish; look for the joys of heaven, pray to God, use the sacraments frequently, and hear the word of God; then this new life will also be a resurrection for you, a glorious day; and will foreshadow the day on which you will be crowned with the crown of perseverance.