The victory of the cross makes Easter a perennial, personal encounter with the risen Lord. Jesus manifested His resurrection to several witnesses but the first sign of Easter is the empty tomb. We who have received the gift of faith through baptism are not only spectators observing the Easter mysteries. The Lord said to Magdalene, “Go and tell” (Jn. 20:17). We bear witness to Christ’s empty tomb only when we arise from our own tombs and walk into our redeemed life.
The Catechism teaches:
The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ’s body from the tomb could be explained otherwise. Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrection. (#640)
His resurrection is the victory over death and evil. By what practical means do we live and proclaim His victory in our daily life?
Father Bertrand Weaver writes:
Victory is defined as the overcoming of an enemy, or of any difficulty. Victory follows combat. The victory of the Christ can be shared only if men war against any disbelief or ignorance in their minds, and any moral evils in their wills. The arms that must be used to achieve victory in the battle of life are revealed with stark simplicity by St. Paul when he says that the Church preached “a crucified Christ…the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The implication in these words is that men will win in the warfare of earthly life if the wisdom which Christ taught from the cross saturates their minds, and if the power which he won through his cross invigorates their wills. (His Cross in Your Life)
The victory of the empty tomb is Christ’s gift and invitation. The glorious Bridegroom desires that His Bride is fully alive in the power of His Spirit. On Easter morning the angel of the Lord said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead” (Luke 24:3-4)? Today the Lord asks us, “Disciple, Do you truly believe that I can resurrect you?”
The Lord often asked those who came for healing, “What do you ask of Me?” Respecting people, He desired them to acknowledge their condition and His power to change it. Do we truly desire personal resurrection that means complete transformation? Our 40 days journey in the desert were to prepare us for Christ’s resurrection and our own.
Now Jesus has moved us into a new season: Easter springtime! The rivers of grace are flowing; the floodgates of divine mercy are opened. We can breathe in the fragrance of a new day. Everything has changed! The battle was fought and Christ’s victory is ours. The Lord has rolled back the stone that covered our tombs. He invites us to arise and walk into the light of a new day.
As Father Bertrand stated, “Victory follows combat.” The Lord engaged in the greatest spiritual battle throughout His passion and death. The devil, acting through his pawns taunted Jesus, “Come down from the cross if you are the Christ.” The devil will continuously taunt us to put aside the cross because it is his undoing. The crucifix is the confounding truth of God’s unfathomable mercy. It’s saving grace keeps the devil bound because believers have recourse to the redeeming power of His Blood shed on the cross—through sacramental baptism!
Some obstacles that keep us from walking out of our tombs or block us from experiencing real resurrection grace include:
- Fear: of change, of the unknown, of something new
- Holding on to old sinful patterns or unhealthy habits
- Clinging to sadness, disappointments, weariness
- Keeping Christ at a distance, resisting intimate friendship with God
- Impediments such as irregular marriage or illicit work or recreation
- Grave injustices un-repaired
- Rancor against God and/or neighbor
- Un-confessed, unrepaired sin
We have an Enemy who plots to rob us of Easter season, resurrected life and transformation into Christ. The Lord says, “Resist him and he will flee.”
In the ministry of healing and deliverance it is evident that the devil flees when he is met with faith-filled resistance. A sincere act of faith in Christ such as, “Jesus, I trust in You,” robs the devil of attention and influence. It is important that we resist the devil with awareness of our baptismal authority. Sacramental baptism empowers us to battle our foe in the name of Jesus who sealed us.
Excerpted from a Manual for priests containing a few approved prayers for laity, is a personal prayer of deliverance:
Lord, almighty, merciful and omnipotent God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, drive out from me all influence of evil spirits. Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, I plead You to break any chain that the devil has on me. Pour upon me the most Precious Blood of your Son. May His immaculate and redeeming blood break all bonds of my body and mind. I ask you through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archangel Michael, intercede and come to my help. In the name of Jesus I command all demons that could have any influence over me to leave me forever. By his scouring, his crown of thorns, his cross, by his blood and resurrection, I command all evil spirits to leave me. By the true God, by the Holy God, by God who can do all, in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord leave me. Amen. (Bishop Julian Porteous, Manual of Minor Exorcisms, Catholic Truth Society).
From the same Manual an approved intercessory deliverance prayer for persons suffering under demonic influence follows:
My Lord, you are all powerful, you are God, you are the Father. We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the Evil One. All Saints in heaven, come to our aid.
From anxiety, sadness and obsession, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
From hatred, fornication, envy, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
From thoughts of jealousy, rage and death, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
From every thought of suicide and abortion, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
From every form of sinful sexuality, we beg you, free us, O Lord.
From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
From every sort of spell, malefice, witchcraft and every form of the occult, we beg you: free us, O Lord.
Lord, you who said, “I leave you peace, My peace, I give you,” grant that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every evil spell and enjoy your peace always.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Bishop Julius Porteous, Manual of Minor Exorcisms, Catholic Truth Society)
Complete healing and deliverance is a process requiring a disciplined sacramental prayer life. Basically, an experience of divine love is what heals us. Environments where we can encounter God personally include: Mass, Confession, Adoration, spiritual direction, retreats, anointed spiritual books, praying together with a faithful, wise spiritual friend.
Let us ask Mary to help us to experience the risen Lord as she did on Easter morning. Scripture does not give us an account of Mary’s Easter but the saints and mystics offer a view. Venerable Mary of Agreda wrote:
…The glorious body and soul of the Redeemer came forth from the holy sepulcher shining with all the brilliance of His divinity and the risen Lord immediately showed Himself to His Mother. Mary prostrated herself on the ground and humbly worshipped her resurrected Son until He took her hand, raised her, and drew her to himself in a marvelous mystical embrace. (The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics, complied by Raphael Brown)
Jesus ardently desires for us to experience His mystical embrace and be healed by His stripes! Lent has run its course and its fruit comes forth during Easter season. Like Mary we give thanks in fervent joy for the gratuitous gift of our redemption. His perfect sacrifice reveals the infinite mercy of Divine Love.
This Easter season I will be traveling to Rome for the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. The universal Church will surely experience unprecedented grace on this unique Divine Mercy Sunday. Let us rejoice in the gift of our faith and the unfathomable mercy of God. With Mary we proclaim, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” By His Blood we are redeemed, delivered and healed. Alleluia!
image: José Luiz / Wikimedia Commons