In a mysterious way, Christ Himself accepts death at the hands of the wicked and death on the cross, in order to eradicate from man’s heart the sins of self-sufficiency and to manifest to the Father a complete filial obedience. But the Father has not allowed death to keep Him in its power. The resurrection of Jesus is the seal placed by the Father on the value of His Son’s sacrifice: it is the proof of the Father’s fidelity, according to the desire expressed by Jesus before He enters into His passion: “Father…glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you.” Henceforth, Jesus is living forever in the glory of the Father, and this is why the disciples were confirmed in an ineradicable joy when they saw the Lord on Easter evening.

It remains that, here below; the joy of the kingdom brought to realization can only spring from the simultaneous celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord. This is the paradox of the Christian condition which sheds particular light on that of the human condition: neither trials nor sufferings have been eliminated from this world, but they take on a new meaning in the certainty of sharing in the redemption wrought by the Lord and of sharing in His glory. This is why the Christian, though subject to the difficulties of human life, is not reduced to groping for the way; nor does he see in death the end of his hopes. As in fact the prophet foretold: “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase….” The Easter Exultet sings of a mystery accomplished beyond the hopes of the prophets: in the joyful announcement of the resurrection, even man’s suffering finds itself transformed, while the fullness of joy springs from the victory of the Crucified, from His pierced heart and His glorified body. This victory enlightens the darker souls.

Paschal joy is not just that of a possible transfiguration: it is the joy of the new presence of the Risen Christ dispensing to His own the Holy Spirit, so that He may dwell with them. The Holy Spirit is given to the Church as the inexhaustible principle of her joy as the bride of the glorified Christ. He recalls to her mind, through the ministry of grace and truth exercised by the successors of the apostles, the very teaching of the Lord. The Holy Spirit stirs up in the Church divine life and the apostolate. And the Christian knows that this Spirit will never be quenched in the course of history. The source of hope manifested at Pentecost will never be exhausted.

Thus the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son and is their living mutual love, is henceforth communicated to the People of the New Covenant, and to each soul ready for His secret action. He makes us His dwelling place. Together with Him, man’s heart is inhabited by the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit raises up there in a filial prayer that springs forth from the depths of the soul and is expressed in praise, thanksgiving, reparation and supplication. Then we can experience joy which is properly spiritual, the joy which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It consists in the human spirit’s finding repose and a deep satisfaction in the possession of the Triune God, known by faith and loved with the charity that comes from Him. Such a joy henceforth characterizes all the Christian virtues. The humble human joys in our lives, which are like seeds of a higher reality are transfigured. Here below this joy will always include to a certain extent the painful trial of a woman in travail and a certain apparent abandonment, like that of the orphan: tears and lamentation, while the world parades its gloating satisfaction. But the disciples’ sadness, which is according to God and not according to the world, will be promptly changed into a spiritual joy that no one will be able to take away from them.

Such is the situation of Christian existence, and very particularly of the apostolic life. This life, being animated by a zealous love of the Lord and His brethren, is necessarily exercised under the standard of the paschal sacrifice, going through love to death, and through death to life and love. Hence the condition of the Christian, and above all of the apostle, who must become the “model of the flock” and associate himself freely with the Redeemer’s passion. The apostolic life thus corresponds to what was described in the Gospel as the law of Christian blessedness, in continuity with the destiny of the prophets: “Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.”

               –   Pope Paul VI, Gaudete in Domino (1975) nn. 36-45.