“In this darkness, Our Lord has already given you what you need.”

One of my favorite parts of the Easter season liturgy is in the preface before the Eucharistic Prayer, when the priest prays, “therefore, overcome with paschal joy…” It’s a reminder to me, every day of Easter, that we are in this season of joy and are called to celebrate the resurrection with all people and the choirs of angels. We should be overcome with paschal joy. Even though every day of Easter doesn’t feel particularly joyful (especially now), I am reminded that life is good because Christ has triumphed.

Overcome with paschal joy. It’s there, in every preface option for Easter. A religious sister pointed out the phrase to me once, and since then, I hear it at every Easter Mass, again and again, clinging on to the fact… Christ is risen. We are filled with joyful hope.

I look forward to hearing it every Easter and now… we’re stuck in quarantine. When I realized it this morning, hearing the phrase over my computer, my heart sank. Sure, I can hear it virtually on livestreamed Masses. But it’s different. It’s a phrase I only hear during Easter, and now we’re all stuck at home without Mass.

Then I remembered that I heard it outside of the Easter season once.

I was at Mass in the tomb of Our Lord.

To say going to Mass in the tomb of Our Lord is a surreal experience is a bit of an understatement. Not only are you in the very place the Resurrection happened, it’s also just an odd way to attend Mass. The tomb is essentially two rooms – the inner room, where the body of Christ was laid, and the anteroom, the Chapel of the Angel. If you are one of the few groups that are able to have a private Latin Rite Mass there in the morning, your entire group is closed in this small space for just under thirty minutes. Most of your group is wedged in the Chapel of the Angel.

During Mass, Father is in the inner room, celebrating on an altar that sits about a foot above the marble slab that covers where Jesus was laid. You take turns going into the inner room during Mass. As you can imagine, it’s one of the strangest Masses you’ll ever experience: Father is in the inner room, celebrating Mass, and you are participating at Mass in the anteroom, but taking turns ducking through the low entrance of the tiny inner room to make your visit.

It was August, but when you celebrate Mass in the tomb, you celebrate Easter. So when it was my turn to be in the inner tomb, I ducked in and fell to my knees, laying my head on the marble slab that covers the place where our Lord’s body rested. It was at that moment that Father uttered the words, “therefore, overcome with paschal joy…”

It was at that very moment that Father prayed the words I loved some much. God knew. God knew and chose that moment for me to hear those words in the empty tomb of Our Lord.

So this morning, when I was having a pity party over the fact that I wouldn’t hear those words at daily Mass (physically present, at least), I realized: “But you heard those words in the tomb of Our Lord. And those words gave you, at that moment, great consolation. So let them give you consolation now.”

How many gifts does Our Lord give us that are actually given to us for later consolation? He does it all the time.

Think of the Transfiguration. That experience wasn’t given to Peter, James, and John for only that present moment. It was given to them so that in the darkness of the cross, they could rest in that consolation. Surrounded by a mystery they could not understand, they could cling to that grace. Faced with a reality they could not explain, they could try to grasp on to something of comfort.

God has given you gifts. He’s given you moments of consolation. You may have needed those gifts when you received them. Or perhaps you need them now.

Something that happened even years ago – perhaps it was given to you for today. So you could rest in his love even when faced with mysteries, crosses, and situations we can’t explain or understand.

Think about those gifts. Rest in them today. In this darkness, Our Lord has already given you what you need.

He was present then. And He’s present now. He’s present always.

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