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Do this, that and the other thing!

The Resurrection of Christ is a reality. But that reality must be incarnated.

I think that what some of you may not understand is the discipline you have to face when you come to Madonna House: “Get up at this hour, go to Mass at that hour, go pick berries, do this, do that, do the other thing.” It is only because Christ resurrected that we have this type of discipline.

When people live together, there is such a thing as common sense. We have to wash our bodies and we have to wash our clothes. When there are as many people as we have here, somebody has to do the washing and the ironing. It’s part of community living. Anybody would agree to that.

But we put into it something very beautiful. We say, “Yes, our goal is to preach Christ. And we want to preach the Christ who is clean and resurrected. We’re going to show in our bodies how deep the Resurrection is.”

Serving is a witness to the Resurrection. I can’t explain that, because it’s too deep in my heart. People say you have to show Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). Yes, but I also have to show him resurrected!

His resurrection brings joy to the laundry. It shoots the ironing full of light, because, tired and with sweat streaming down your face, you say, “I am clothing the naked, alleluia, alleluia! And I’ll be able to clothe the naked, because Christ has resurrected, alleluia, alleluia!” I don’t mean you have to say it in these words, but it’s inside you.

Why are we here together? Because Christ resurrected! It’s through his resurrection that the members of Madonna House came together to be a community, and it’s through his resurrection that you arrived here.

Christ sent the Holy Spirit; he is the Advocate of the poor, and we’re all poor. In our poverty, we are here to serve you, but you also are serving everybody.

What you are eating today is the result of the work done last summer by people like you. If you go to weed the berry patch or to pick berries today, you are preparing to feed those who will be here next summer.

It’s like a movement toward Christ. You came here for Christ, and now you are doing what Christ told you to do. You believed it and now you’re doing it. It’s so simple.

Yesterday somebody said to me, “You always say it’s so simple, while it isn’t simple at all!” But you see, when you’re in love with God, the Resurrection of Christ is wonderful. When you know why you’re doing something, then everything goes smoothly and community is formed.

You have to have a structured society, if you’re going to serve your neighbor. In order to wash the feet of your brethren, somebody has to have a basin, somebody has to have soap, and somebody has to have a place where there is water. That is structure. You can’t move without structures. But the structure is shot full with the light of Christ.

In these simple, human hands of ours is a decision: are we going to be ointment-bearers to our brothers and sisters, like the women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ? Am I going to show Christ to my brother or sister, be involved with them, be a person of the towel and water?

Or will I drop the towel and water, the involvement, and the responsibility, and let my hands flop at my side? Then will I just look at myself in a thousand mirrors of my own making, always seeing myself but forgetting I am the image of God?

The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost are days of Christ “watering” his joy in us. Like a farmer watering his field, the Lord waters our souls, so that we might begin to have that inner joy.

It is very deep, in the sense that we have to die for others. This doesn’t mean, however, that we are going to be stood against a wall and shot — no, it means we die for the other every day, every minute. And because Christ is watering us with that special Easter water of joy, we begin to understand that dying is the essence of joy, because it is the essence of love.

Only a person in love can joyously sacrifice, be filled with self-denial, and die for the other. And because we are human, Easter comes each year to fill us with this joy again and again. It would be impossible for us, left alone, to go from Pentecost to next Easter, but we have the Advocate of the poor with us.

What is the joy of Easter? The joy of Easter is the opening sentence of the Song of Songs, He kissed me with the kiss of his mouth” (Sg 1:1). It is to plunge into the fiery ocean of love at whatever price the plunging takes.

It is an insistence on the primacy of love over everything else in spiritual life — over knowledge, asceticism, contemplation, solitude, prayer.

Love is the spiritual life, and without it all other exercises of the spirit, however lofty, are empty of content and become mere illusion.

Love, of course, means much more than mere sentiment, much more than token favors or perfunctory almsgiving. Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one’s brother or sister who is not regarded as an object to which one “does good,” but as one’s other self. God is Love and it is on charity that we shall be judged.

Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Adapted from a talk Catherine Doherty gave to guests staying at Madonna House.

Restoration April 2024