The Night of Nights
by Catherine Doherty.
This is the night of nights. This is the apex of the love story. The first part came to us as the cry of a Child. The second, as the hammering and planning of wood by a Carpenter.
The third, as a Voice—picked up by the megaphone of centuries and brought to us: Christ the preacher, in his public life. Next, the sound of whips upon human flesh and of nails entering that flesh. Then in the quiet of that night, flame, fire, and song got together, and suddenly God arose.
Christ is risen! In him is my faith, my love; in him I live.
He sang us a love song from the moment of his birth to the moment of his Ascension—which comes soon—he will leave us tokens of his love: first, himself in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Blessed Sacrament, and in his priests. For he is so in love with us that, though he went to the Father, he remained with us. Only God can do that.
Night of nights! It must be a night of such a profound love for one another that we know, through the tremendous mystery of faith, that each one I love is the Lord. Christ meets Christ. This tremendous surge of love should so fill us that, at least one night in all the year, we might try to love him and one another as he loves us.
— From Season of Mercy, pp. 117-118, available from MH Publications.
And what is our role in spreading the Good News and how are we to do it, we “sinners, wranglers, weaklings”? Caryll Houselander, in her down-to-earth way, gives us hope.
The ultimate miracle of Divine Love is this, that the life of the Risen Lord is given to us to give to one another. It is given to us through our human loves. It is no violation of our simple human nature. It is not something which must be cultivated through a lofty spirituality that only few could attain; it does not demand a way of life that is abnormal, or even unusual; it is not a specialized vocation. It is to be lived at home, at work, in any place, any circumstances. It is to be lived through our natural human relationships, through the people we know, the neighbors we see. It is given to us, if we will take it, literally into our own hands to give. It is the love of human lovers, of man and wife, of parent and child, of friend and friend.
It is through his Risen Life in us that Christ sends his love to the ends of the earth. That is why instead of startling the world into trembling adoration by manifesting his glory, he sent the woman who had been a sinner to carry the ineffable secret, and sent the two disciples who had been bewildered by their blind inability to reconcile the Scripture and Calvary, and sent the friend who denied him, to give his love to the world, and to give it as simply as a whispered secret or a loaf of bread. So is it that we, sinners, wranglers, weaklings, provided only that we love God, are sent to give the life of the Risen Christ to the whole world, through the daily bread of our human love. “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. Enough for you, that the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will receive strength from him; you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and throughout Judea, in Samaria, yes, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).
“Christ descended into ‘Hell’ and is therefore close to those cast into it, transforming their darkness into light. Suffering and torment is still terrible and well-nigh unbearable. Yet the star of hope has risen–the anchor of the heart reaches the very throne of God. Instead of evil becoming unleashed within man, the light shines victorious: suffering–without ceasing to be suffering–becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise.” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi)
“Christ descended into ‘Hell’ and is therefore close to those cast into it, transforming their darkness into light. Suffering and torment is still terrible and well-nigh unbearable. Yet the star of hope has risen–the anchor of the heart reaches the very throne of God. Instead of evil becoming unleashed within man, the light shines victorious: suffering–without ceasing to be suffering–becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise.” (Benedict XI, Spes Salvi)