“We are an Easter people, and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”These words are attributed to St. John Paul II. And, indeed, he did deliver them; once, during an address at a black parish in Harlem in 1979, and again before leading the congregation in the Angelus at a Mass in Adelaide, Australia, in 1986. However, the Pope was paraphrasing a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo, some 1,500 years before: “We are a resurrection people, and our song is ‘Alleluia’.”If you don’t hear or read these words again this Easter, you probably will next year. If nothing else separates the post-Vatican II Catholic from the traditionalist, it’s the trope of “the resurrection people”. I’m not trying to import what’s been called the “hermeneutic of rupture”, the belief that the Second Vatican Council changed the DNA of the Catholic Church or the substance of Catholic dogma. However, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Council created, or at least promoted, a different style — a different perspective from which to view our doctrine and expound it. And the “resurrection people” trope is a key to that difference.Error usually begins with the emphasis of one doctrine, or a collection of related doctrines, over the rest. For instance, had Martin Luther truly understood what St. Paul meant by works, he might have ended his days still an Augustinian priest in communion with the Church. Far be it from me to suggest that either Ss. John Paul or Augustine were in error by saying “we are a resurrection people”; for both men were well-versed in the evangelium. However, the saying can be easily misunderstood.For it would be just as true, if not more, to say we are the “people of the crucifixion”.
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