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The Christophers: Finding Hope In Christ’s Resurrection

Tony Rossi, Director of Communications

 

Death and grief are inevitable parts of all our lives. But Christian hope is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate this Easter Sunday. The belief that we will be reunited with our loved ones in the joy of heaven some day can serve as a light in the darkness of grief. Until then, we can find guidance on how best to deal with life’s most difficult moments through the words of Scripture and the example of Christ’s followers in this world.

Author and theologian Henri Nouwen, for instance, offers these thoughts: “The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our faith in the resurrection of our bodies…Our bodies, as Paul says, are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) and, therefore, sacred. The resurrection of the body means that what we have lived in the body will not go to waste, but will be lifted in our eternal life with God. As Christ bears the marks of His suffering in His risen body, our bodies in the resurrection will bear the marks of our suffering. Our wounds will become signs of glory in the resurrection.”

People with mental illness are among those who endure suffering in this world. I recently shared the story of Deacon Ed Shoener, who lost his 29-year-old daughter Katie to suicide due to her bipolar disorder. Deacon Ed co-founded the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers to help other families dealing with this type of loss, as well as to bring acceptance and healing to those with mental illness.

Though Katie is no longer physically present in Deacon Ed’s life, his faith affirms his belief that she is still with him in some way. During a “Christopher Closeup interview, he told me, “The communion with the saints is not just the saints who are painted on a wall…We all hope to be a saint one day, to live eternally with God. So, our loved ones, we’re still in communion with them. And yes, absolutely, I pray to Katie. I pray for Katie all the time, as I do other saints too, and other loved ones…Also, if anyone asks me if they can do anything for me, I always say, ‘Have a Mass said for Katie.’…I wasn’t brought up Catholic. I was raised Protestant, and have come to the faith later in my life…But I think this idea of purgatory is a beautiful teaching of the Church, this idea of purification. And that’s what we do when we pray for someone or have a Mass said for someone. We help them during their period of purification.”

Deacon Ed has taken the most horrible experience of his life and turned it into a vehicle to help others, all while maintaining a connection to his daughter. It is the light that Jesus’s resurrection brought into his life—that Jesus’s resurrection brings into all our lives—that allows him to do this.

Pope Francis summed up this state of belief beautifully when he explained, “If Christ is risen, we can look with renewed eyes and hearts on each event in our lives, even the most negative. The moments of darkness, failure and even sin can be transformed and herald a new path forward. When we have reached the bottom of our misery and weakness, the risen Christ gives us the strength to rise again. If we entrust ourselves to Him, His grace saves us. The crucified and risen Lord is the full revelation of mercy, present and at work in history.”

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note FINDING HOPE IN CHRIST’S RESURRECTION, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org    

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