An authentic celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Christ, is such a world-changing, life-changing event that it should inspire in us a tidal wave of emotion, and the growth of important virtues. Among the most prominent of those virtues are hope, peace and joy.
Hope is the virtue that allows us to embrace the present with serenity and to look to the future with a certain amount of confidence, not just in this life but in the life to come. The fact that Jesus overcame the forces of darkness and death, and invites us to share in his victory, is the source of our hope.
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1817) And in his encyclical, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote of the bright future that hope offers: “The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.” (#2)
Peace is another virtue of Easter. How many times, after his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his confounded disciples and greeted them with the words, “Peace be with you.” Jesus explained the reality of this peace in his discourse at the Last Supper: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” (Jn 14: 27)
In other words, the peace the world gives is a political reality, passing and fragile. The peace that Jesus gives is a profound, deep-seated peace. It is a virtue we attain by our friendship with Christ, the fruit of intimate and silent prayer.
The third prominent virtue of Easter is joy. St. John Paul asked: “How can we not rejoice at the victory of this Christ?” And the Church echoes this theme in the beautiful Exsultet of the Easter Vigil: “Rejoice heavenly powers . . Rejoice O earth, in shining splendor . . Rejoice O Mother Church . . Let this place resound with joy!”
Joy is different than happiness. We’re not always happy in this world, are we? Any number of events can rob us of that emotion. But joy in the Risen Christ is a permanent spiritual gift that confidently sustains us and strengthens us in good times and in bad.
Something to think about: Hope, peace and joy are the virtues of Easter. As a follower of Jesus, you deserve them. Let nothing take them away from you!