Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

‘O felix culpa!’ A Sermon for the Paschal Vigil

It is simply not possible for the Catholic to be overcome by evil. Think well on it; in light of the mystery we are wading through, think well on it. How can it be that the Christian can be overcome by evil? It is not possible. Non potest.

I believe I can say that because of what we sang during our vigil: “O truly necessary sin of Adam . . . O happy fault! That earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer.” Do we have any notion of what we say when we sing that?

What we certainly do not say is that we must sin; or that we delight in sin; or that evil is somehow necessary in order to understand goodness. None of these things are true. But we say, nevertheless, that sin and evil are never the last things. We say that Christ is so mighty, that he may take all that is burdensome, disordered, and ugly about us, and heal it. And not only us, but the entire cosmos. We say that though we had fallen in a garden, we are elevated to a kingdom. No, we have no notion of it. But by these strange formulas we assert that grace changes everything.

Ours, then, to do everything that Christ commands us.

Three things conquer the world: faith, hope, charity. On our paschal candle, we have three symbols of these virtues. The peacock for faith, the artichoke for hope, and the pomegranate for charity. By faith we see God and his eternal things. By hope we trust him and persevere through rugged things. By charity we love him above all things. These three are how Christ conquers us and how we conquer everything else.

Courage then, dear friends. Tonight must give us courage. Obedience, dear friends. Tonight renews our obedience so we can receive grace. It is impossible for the Catholic to be overcome by evil, unless he wishes to. With the authority Christ gives me, I bless you and your families.


{Art Credit: Annibale Carracci, The Holy Women at Christ’s Tomb; The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.}

Homilies & Sermons