The collects of Easter: The Third Sunday
May your people exult forever, O God,
in renewed youthfulness of spirit,
so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,
we may look forward in confident hope
to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.
We're on our third week of meditating on the Easter mysteries...21 days down and 29 to go! The Easter season is the longest of all the seasons of the Church year, but maybe that's because there's just so much to think about!
In today's collect, for example, we hear a word we have not used since the Easter Vigil. Did you hear it? It's the very first word of the Paschal proclamation sung on the Easter night: Exult!
Now we have heard it before in the form "exaltation," that is to rejoice in an extraordinary way. Exaltation is an almost unconstrained form of rejoicing. The Easter Proclamation, or Exultet, as it is often called, actually uses three words for our reaction to the Resurrection of the Lord. The first is Exult:
"Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
Exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King's triumph!"
This is followed by a slightly less intensive word: be glad!
"Be glad, and let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
Ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness."
The song then switches to the most moderate of words: Rejoice!
"Rejoice, let mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with a lighting all of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples."
Three weeks after the deacons sing that hymn before the Paschal candle, the Church reminds us of the boundless joy with which she receives the news of her Salvation. It is a rejoicing which rekindles the joy of our youth, as the psalmist tells us. It is the reason why we celebrate Easter every year, and indeed every Sunday, "that all might grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed."
I sometimes fear that we live in a world devoid of real joy, entertained by the passing pleasures which masquerade as perfect joy. We so often anesthetize ourselves from our fears and sorrows rather than seeking the face of God through the cross of Jesus Christ and through the way of suffering unto death in love for the other.
It is the difference between the real and the counterfeit, the authentic and the fake, really living and just seeking to be alive.
That's why we have the Easter season, a time to teach us how to rejoice; time to remind us who we are, where we have come from, and what we were made to be.
So rejoice you chosen people, you royal priesthood, you people set apart! For God has consecrated you as his own. You have been washed clean by his precious blood. Rejoice! Be glad! And exult in his mercy!
Msgr. James P. Moroney, presently professor of liturgy at St. John's Seminary, Brighton becomes the 20th rector there on July 1, 2012. This is the third of a series of reflections on the collects of the Easter season.