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Some two millennia ago, a ragtag bunch of nobodies learned what their tortured and executed friend, the rabbi Jesus from Nazareth, meant by “rising from the dead” (Mark 9:9-10) — because they met him again, the same but utterly transformed, as the Risen Lord. The Easter Effect upturned all they had once thought about time, history, and God’s promises to Israel; it also transformed these nobodies into extraordinary evangelists, for the missionary project they launched converted perhaps as much as half the Mediterranean world over the next two and a half centuries.
That Easter Effect is worth keeping in mind in this season of Catholic discontent. Even amidst anger and embarrassment, Christians can do the work of evangelization because the first Easter told us that, for the truly converted disciple who has met the risen Lord, despair never gets the final word: God will vindicate his plan for the salvation of the world. And if we momentarily filter out media bias, political posturing, and social media vitriol, Catholics can see the Easter Effect at work in the Church in 2019.
Sign - Catholic - Vitality - Easter - Vigil
The best sign of Catholic vitality will be found at the Easter Vigil on April 20 when tens of thousands of adults, fully aware of the current crisis, will be baptized or will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Their primary act of faith is in the Risen Lord. By accepting baptism or reception into the Catholic Church today, however, these men and women are also making an act of faith in the Church and its capacity for reform. Let the desperate among us take heart and courage from that.
There are also great conversion stories being written today. If you’re feeling glum about the Catholic future, try Sohrab Ahmari’s memoir, From Fire By Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith...
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