The editorial of the month

This Month... by Teresa Caldecott Cialini

…in April

We enter April on Easter Monday this year, with the great Alleluia ringing fresh in our ears. We now sing to our Lady, “Queen of heaven, rejoice…. The Son whom you merited to bear…has risen as he said, alleluia.” On our cover, John and Peter stand, astounded, in the empty tomb, witnessing the world upturned.

New Life as the Bride of Christ

As the “Litany of the Blood of the New Covenant” in this issue’s Blessings feature hints, this is the “newlywed” season of the Church’s year, full of promise and young love like the springtime of the natural world. We recall how the young Church was given life by Christ’s blood in a new Covenant, and went out into the world to proclaim the Good News. “O truly blessed night,” we heard at the Easter Vigil, “when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human.” What better time of year could there be to reflect on the words of the Prophet Isaiah: I exult for joy in the Lord,/ my soul rejoices in my God,/ for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,/ he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,/ like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,/ like a bride adorned in her jewels./ For as the earth makes fresh things grow,/ as a garden makes seeds spring up,/ so will the Lord make both integrity and praise/ spring up in the sight of the nations (Isaiah 61:10-11).

The depiction of the Emmaus meal in this issue’s Art supplement is reminiscent of both a wedding feast and the Last Supper. The Bridegroom has arrived, and is recognised in the breaking of bread and the hearts burning within the guests. And the Bridegroom does stay with them, as they pleaded, in that Eucharistic bread that makes present both Calvary and the heavenly wedding feast for all eternity.

First buds of Springtime

Speaking of new life, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord falls on the 8th April since the 25th March was the Monday of Holy Week this year. Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast day falls on the 29th this month, spoke in a letter to a suffering mother about how Mary’s Fiat reveals the importance of humility. The Word, Catherine wrote, became incarnate in Mary when she verbalised her interior humility, “showing thereby how excellent is this little virtue, and how much the soul receives that offers and presents its will in humility to its Creator”. She also reminds her correspondent that “there is no obedience without humility, nor humility without charity.” Interestingly, Saint Catherine was born on what would usually have been the feast of the Annunciation in 1347, though that year—like 2024—it fell in Holy Week and was therefore moved to April.

The budding new life of the infant Son of God and the new life for the world can only take place in Mary’s body because it takes place in her fertile soul also. Her love of God, manifested in her humility, prepared the soil of both.

Going out to the world

We have a good long season to unpack the repercussions of the Easter event, and to consider our response to the Resurrection. “The Paschal Way of the Light” on page 32 walks us through the “Stations” of Eastertide, those moments when the disciples encounter the risen Lord and have their understanding upturned and expanded. What must we do?, the crowds ask Saint Peter, on hearing his testimony in Acts chapter 2. His answer is straightforward and timeless: repent of our sins, receive the great gift of the Sacraments, and “Save yourselves from this perverse generation”—not out of fear, but as a response to the God who fills the earth with his love.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that “Faith is born from the personal encounter with the risen Christ and becomes an impulse of courage and freedom” (see page 51). That is not to say we will always feel fearless. If it was a “one and done” encounter Christ would not have left us the sustaining food of the Sacraments to return to time and again, and his Living Word to feast upon in the Scriptures. Neither resource will be used up or tapped out in a lifetime, or even two millenia of the life of the Church. Just as well, since we are rarely as fertile recipients as our Blessed Mother was. But as Peter knew so well, however much we trip up, the only thing Christ asks us is “Do you love me?” This love becomes the wellspring of the humilty that allows self-forgetfulness, and opens us (like Mary at the Annunciation and the disciples in the Resurrection encounters) to partake in the joyful surprise of God’s wonders.

“No human sin can erase the mercy of God, or prevent him from unleashing all his triumphant power,” Saint John Paul II tells us, “if we only call upon him. Indeed, sin itself makes even more radiant the love of the Father who, in order to ransom a slave, sacrificed his Son. This mercy reaches its fullness in the gift of the Spirit who bestows new life and demands that it be lived” (see page 98). The Sunday of Divine Mercy on the 7th April—so dear to the heart of John Paul II—gives us special cause to contemplate this.

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,/ let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,/ let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,/ let it rejoice and sing for joy (Isaiah 35). Our Beloved has returned to us from Death, and now we should rejoice and sing, and bear flowers in this wasteland of a broken world. Say to all faint hearts, “Courage! Do not be afraid” continues Isaiah, as Christ himself says so many times. After all, he calls us each by name, as he did Mary in that springtime garden on Easter morning.