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When Death Is Defeated
Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, when death is decisively defeated and the end of the world begins. This is the eighth day of creation, the new Sabbath, the new Lord's Day when mercy shall break forth like the dawn and forgiveness roll down like mighty waters. "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you" (Jn 20:21).
The great British fantasy writer and philologist J. R. R. Tolkien called the Resurrection a "eucatastrophe." He explained the term to his son in a letter after relating the story of a miraculous cure at Lourdes:
[Father had told] the most moving story of the little boy with tubercular peritonitis who was not healed, and was taken sadly away in the train by his parents, practically dying with 2 nurses attending him. As the train moved away it passed within sight of the Grotto. The little boy sat up. "I want to go and talk to the little girl" — in the same train there was a little girl who had been healed. And he got up and walked there and played with the little girl; and then he came back, and he said "I'm hungry now." And they gave him cake and two bowls of chocolate and enormous potted meat sandwiches, and he ate them! ...
But at the story of the little boy (which is a fully attested fact of course) with its apparent sad ending and then its sudden unhoped-for happy ending, I was deeply moved and had that peculiar emotion we all have — though not often. It is quite unlike any other sensation. And all of a sudden I realized what it was: ... "eucatastrophe[,]" the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears ... it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.
... And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest "eucatastrophe" possible ... and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad" (Ps 118:24).