We can put ourselves in his presence. We can offer ourselves to him. We can try to follow the examples of the saints. We can try to put the sacraments at the center of our lives.
But after that, we need to trust him. Easter tells us that we become saints through the work that he, and his grace, do in us, and through us, and for us. We are participants, but he is the source of life.
"We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death," St. Paul tells the Romans, "so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life."
Our newness of life comes through him. And it takes time to be fully manifested. And we have to trust.
Pope Francis has rightly pointed out a kind of Pelagianism among many practicing Catholics today. A sense that we can do it ourselves: that if we manage to carry the burden of moral perfection, and apostolic life, and evangelical zeal, that we might get ourselves to heaven.
But we won't, and we can't. That's not sufficient. The doors to heaven are open to us because he loved us enough to be scourged at a pillar, to hang on a cross, to be buried, and to conquer sin and death.
And in baptism, he makes us a part of his life, death, and resurrection.
The evil one wants to make us think we can do it alone. And when we fail, he leads us to despair. But an empty tomb will always be beyond our own powers and abilities.
This Easter, I'll give thanks to the Lord for the ways I've grown closer to him this Lent. I'll ask him to help me follow him more closely. I'll repent of my sins, and confess them. I'll continue to walk with him on the lifelong journey to holiness.
This Easter, I'll try to remember that alone, I can't be good enough, strong enough, or powerful enough to be free from my own sins, or from my impending death.
And I'll celebrate that, because of what he did for me, I don't have to be.
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J.D.Flynn served as Catholic News Agency's editor-in-chief from August 2017 to December 2020.