What the Resurrection Really Means

I felt the warm, soft wax between my fingers and looked down to see that I’d formed the Easter taper into a “J” — candy cane style. I’d been holding it so tightly entwined between my fingers that I’d completely distorted its shape. Slowly, gently, I coerced it back into a nice, straight candle.

The bells were chiming the Gloria during Easter Vigil at our parish and I was contemplating the Glory of the Resurrection. But it wasn’t just Christ’s Resurrection I was thinking about.

I was thinking about our oldest son serving in the military and about to embark on his deployment to the Middle East. I was remembering whining and fretting to a wise advisor about my fears that Matt won’t return from this mission. I’d let my mother-heart run wild with anxiety. He didn’t deny the possibility of Matt’s not returning. Instead, he made a promise to me. He promised that, no matter what happens, there WILL be a Resurrection. After Good Friday, there’s always a Resurrection.

Standing there, candle in hand, tears filling my eyes and a lump in my throat, I was thinking to myself that, even if I lose Matt during this deployment (and I’m not planning on it, I assure you), I will see him again at the Resurrection. God willing, we’ll see each other again in heaven. And then, there will be no more anxiety, no more sad partings, no more separation and uncertainty. The bells weren’t chiming the truth of Christ’s Resurrection alone, they were chiming the hope of the Resurrection for all of us.

Our Lord’s conversation with Martha after the death of Lazarus came back to me:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (John 11:24-27).

Somehow at that moment, I felt more peace than I’ve had in a while. A new feeling came over me — a kind of melancholic calm and a closeness to Christ I’ve not felt in quite that way before. It was the feeling that after having been to more Easter Vigils than I’d like to count, blowing out more Easter tapers than I’d like to remember, gorging on more Easter basket contents than I’d like to admit, I finally got it. I finally understood what the Resurrection really means.

The Catechism explains it this way:

Finally, Christ’s Resurrection — the risen Christ himself — is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted…the powers of the age to come” and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

We live the resurrection everyday, all day. We live not in anxiety and woe, but in hopefulness and joy, knowing that there’s more to it than our human senses and emotions can grasp. The miraculous Bible story we read every single year isn’t the story of Jesus of Nazareth alone. It’s my story. It’s your story. It’s Matt’s story.

Yes, I could lose him this deployment. If that should happen, it will rip my heart out and I will never be the same. But if I do lose him, if God so chooses this path for him — for me, for the Fenelon Clan — then we also will be assured that after Good Friday there will be a Resurrection.

(© 2009  Marge Fenelon)

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic wife, mother, author, columnist, and speaker. She’s a frequent contributor to a number of Catholic publications and websites and is a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life and has touched the hearts of audiences in a variety of venues. Her latest book is Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Maria Press, 2013).