But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise!
Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust!
For your dew is a dew of light,
And you cause the land of shades to give birth.
We accompanied him to the Cross and from it to the grave. And it seemed all was done. The depths, the shades of darkness for a time covered the earth.
His Mother bears his lifeless body in expectant hope. The heart that a sword would pierce was pierced, and hers becomes the first altar of sacrifice. In her somber strength, she bears Him yet gain for the salvation of the many.
The women come with their oils, the fragrant offering of incense; the myrrh brought to Him long ago in that manger by kings from foreign lands is now used to anoint Him in the still end of his life.
Those linen cloths covered his body. The same linens that once held the hidden remains of the Christ, now cover our altars of sacrifice.
All these, rituals of an ancient past, brought to bear on the One who fulfilled that past and all its waiting.
A strange silence filled the land, for God was dead.
One life, one death, and one night watch of faith that death would be trampled and the dead might rise!
And when among the dead He seemed gone and lost, alas, they came to weep and found Him not.
The tradition of the church awaits the resurrection by observing the Lord’s descent among the dead. We find within the readings of the Hours the meditation on the ransom of Adam and Eve:
‘He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve.
… “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” I am your God, who for your sake have become your son… I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. …Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. …[T]he eternal dwelling places are prepared; the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.’
–From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday, Office of Readings.
Since then this command repeats anew. Arise!
Processions in time behind paschal candles have shed light in the darkness–and ushered Easter mornings. The light stands witness of this one tremendous outpouring of love and life; a pillar strong and burning brightly as dew in a land parched for light, and thirsting for love.
And still now, as if from that one hell, countless souls arise to witness the light of the undying Easter flame. Emergent glory stands in contrast to the death of sin and disbelief, to the lifelessness of a still earth that lives apart from it God and Maker. Hearts beat anew with sparks of a love divine. From soul to soul His name resounds in chorus among the living-
‘O happy fault, that won for us so great a Redeemer,’
Rise hearts from the depths
Rise, among the gardens of this world!
Live, long live, the victory over sin and death!
Rise, modern soul, from among the ruins of the lands,
Against the wars, the lies, the disbelief.
Behold, your Light has come!
One holy flame, one holy love, one holy light
Dispels the night!
O Life that sets men free,
Come among the children of the Eve you love!
Appear among the Galilees of our time,
Retrieve the lambs,
Give glory to the lilies of the fields,
Offered to you, fragrant at Thy empty tomb!
Approaching the stone that was pulled aside,
And peering at the emptiness,
Souls are filled with hope!
Our emptiness, the space given you to fill
O Risen One, with life unending.
Heaven yields her bounty!
The land of shade in bloom awakens!
Your thirst, quenched at the font of life,
Your mourning and your grief
Your fear, your longing, your expectation
Tossed as linen once found strewn
On His grave’s cold and hardened floor.
‘He is not here’
Amid the gloom, He walks,
‘Be not afraid’
Rise from the dead,
For I am the life of the dead!
Rise up, work of my hands! Let us leave this place!
Rejoice, O Hearts!
Thy Lord is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!