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What Is It That Keeps You Alive?

Sem. Orllie Jose C. Santos
November 22, 2019

It was just recently that I finished my presentation on our course in Dogmatic Synthesis and the thesis assigned to me was about the Resurrection. I can tell you technical terms and the theological meaning of the Resurrection (such as the Easter Kerygma, Easter Stories, Resuscitation, Mode of existence of the Risen Jesus, etc.) but I won’t do that lest you die of boredom as you read on.

Yet I think I can coin the Resurrection in this phrase: “What is it that keeps you alive?”

Those moments when you feel as if you are breaking through to immortality? The times when you feel infinite and not bound by time and space? Because when you find it, that is a taste of what awaits us - a taste of the resurrection. I know we’ve all felt that way at some point in our lives. I also know that after that experience, life is never the same again.

Allow me then share with you at least three tendencies we all have that, for me, can block our experience of our little resurrections.

First block is, when you begin to accept that this is all there is in life.

That there is no more to life than this. It happens when you already begin to say to yourself, “Is life just this? Sleep, wake up, eat, play, earn money, ride the bus/train, then go back to sleep, and the cycle goes on and on.”

It is now my tenth year in the seminary, the last stretch of initial formation. But I tell you, I am still growing, learning so much more about myself, about my life, about who I am and the purpose of why I am in the seminary.

Unfolding does not end, the thirst for new encounters is never extinguished. In fact, as Fr. Edwin Mercado says, “Even eternity is just the beginning of knowing God because God cannot be fully grasped, we’re only creatures.” Even in eternity life still unfolds before us - not anymore as a manifestation of incompleteness but a journey of infinite amazement of the wonders of life.

So ask yourself, do you really believe that life is just this and ends here? Or is there always something more, I only need to continue searching?

Second block is, when you constantly look back at something that is already dead, that is long gone.

It blocks you from embracing what life offers before you. For example, when you constantly dwell on a low grade in your course in Civil law, Narrative film, Ethics, Ancient Church History, or when you constantly look back and can’t move on from a past relationship, a broken friendship, a hurtful comment from your dad or mom, from your closest friend, or from your love. Perhaps it is even an inordinate desire or a favorite sin. You must give these things up, and let them properly die.

But if you cling to what is already dead, you cannot experience resurrection. Mary Magdalene experienced this when she saw the Risen Lord. The Risen Lord was reluctant to let Mary touch him. Ronald Rolheiser writes beautifully Mary Magdalene’s perspective on her encounter with the Risen Lord:

“I never suspected Resurrection, and to be so painful to leave me weeping with joy to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb, but also weeping with regret not because I’ve lost you, but because I’ve lost you in how I had you—in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh. Not as fully Lord, but as graspably human. I want to cling, despite your protest, cling to your body, cling to your, and my, clingable humanity, cling to what we had, our past. But I know that…if I cling, you cannot ascend and I will be left clinging to your former self…unable to receive your present spirit.”

Paulo Coelho affirms that “(i)t’s always necessary to know when a stage of one’s life has ended. If you stubbornly cling to it after the need has passed, you lose the joy and meaning of the rest.”

So, ask yourself, what is it that you can’t let die now? Ask the Lord to help you face its death so that you can embrace life.

Last block is, when you think that Resurrection is going to be solely a personal act. This is when one thinks that one could rise above oneself through one’s own strength. Resurrection is the act of the Trinity. In fact, no one witnessed the Resurrection itself. What the disciples saw are apparitions of an already Risen Christ.

Resurrection is an intimate act between the Father and the Son. Hence, our own rising above ourselves is never a solo journey, we can only rise again with God.

Let us then ask the Lord to free us from these blocks so that we can again find our way to our little resurrections.

So, now I ask you again, “What is it that keeps you alive?”


about the author

He is a 4th year Theology Seminarian of San Carlos Seminary. He belongs to the Diocese of Antipolo and serving the Parish of St. John the Baptist at Taytay, Rizal.

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