As our liturgical calendar turned past Lent and Holy Week and into Eastertide, we replaced the “Ave Regina Caelorum” (“Hail, O Queen of the heavens”) with the “Regina Caeli” (“Queen of heaven rejoice”). Originating in at least the 12th century, the “Regina Caeli” is more than just a little musical variety in our unchanging liturgies. The text both connects us to the saints and believers of old, and presents the full power of the Easter miracle, the lengths to which God was willing to go to save his people:
“O Queen of heaven rejoice! Alleluia: For he whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia, Hath arisen as he said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia.”
What is this beautiful hymn to Mary showing us? I would like to focus on two things. The first is the interconnectedness of our faith. I have always found it interesting that this anthem, which has been sung during Eastertide for almost 1000 years, references the Incarnation: “he whom thou didst merit to bear.” The Resurrection is not some isolated incident in the life of Christ. It is the fulfillment of his mission on this earth, of his entire being. All of the teachings of the faith, the easy ones and the hard ones, are united in the person of Christ, irrevocably woven together in the fabric of our faith by his Birth, Death, and Resurrection. In the prologue to the Gospel According to St. John, we are reminded that the world has been created with reason (logos) “and this reason is a Person, is Love.” Christ should be the logos of our lives, and that requires us accepting all of him into all of us, just as Mary did at the Annunciation.
The second lesson here is that Jesus is a God who keeps his promises to us. He has “arisen as he said.” If the Virgin Birth is the remembrance of the life to which we were originally called, sinless, united to God, then the Resurrection is the window into the life to which we have been given in love. As Father Palatucci quoted in his Easter sermon, from the ancient homily for Holy Saturday: “I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven.” If Christ has risen as he said, we should not doubt that, if we believe in him, we will rise with him in glory.
Let us, then, believe in Christ, accept him fully into our lives, and pray for the intercession of Mary so that we may rejoice with them forever in heaven. Alleluia!