Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Ascension of Our Lord

It's the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord! :)

And here's more you can read on the Ascension from The Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas Aquinas. :)

And here's some stuff from Alone with God:

Alone with God
By Father J. Heyrman, S.J.

(Acts 1:1-11)

1. Let us hear our Lord speaking with His Apostles for the last time. We are one of the group that accompanies the Saviour as He goes to the Mount of Olives; we see Him slowly, majestically rise to Heaven, “and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).

2. Petition: The grace that the “wonderful and glorious ascension” of Jesus may fill our hearts with joy; that our faith may be confirmed, our confidence strengthened, our love rendered more ardent.

I. The Last Conversations

The last apparition took place in the holy city of Jerusalem, in the Cenacle, where He had instituted the Blessed Sacrament. “And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

“All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:15). With Him they can overcome the world and convert the nations – not they but Jesus through them. Nor should they expect immediate success, or spectacular results: they will have to face persecution, and many trials shall befall them; but slowly the Kingdom will be established.

We are rather astonished to hear one of the disciples, at this moment (as we read in the Epistle of the Mass), ask Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Poor men, it was so hard to let go the dreams of national power and greatness that had fascinated the mind of the chosen people all these centuries, and to give their allegiance to a universal Kingdom, which Jesus had inaugurated. Our Lord, patient as He had always been with them, did not rebuke them, “but He opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures”; and He bade them stay in the city until He “send upon them the promise of His Father, and that they should be endowed with power from on high” (Luke 24: 45-49).

Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.

II. The Ascension

“And He led them out as far as Bethania; and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. And it came to pass, whilst He blessed them, He departed from them and was carried up to heaven” (Luke 24:50,51). And the Acts (1:9) add: “and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

In all the other apparitions Jesus disappeared suddenly but here He departs gradually. In its simplicity the scene is solemn and impressive. The prophet Elias had been taken to heaven in a fiery chariot, drawn by fiery steeds, in the midst of a whirlwind (4 Kings 2:11).

“And while He blessed them, He departed from them.” His farewell to His disciples and to our earth was a blessing. “Peace on earth” was the song of the angels when He was born at Bethlehem, and when the heavenly messengers brought tidings of great joy, that a Saviour had been born. And on this day, we too, with a full heart, say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”

Be Thou our guide, Be Thou our goal;
Be Thou our pathway to the skies;
joy when sorrow fills the soul:
In death our everlasting prize.

- Salutis Humanae Sator

III. Back to Jerusalem

“And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who said to them, Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so some, as you have seen Him going into heaven” (Acts 1:10,11).

It may be noted that in the work of our salvation on every important occasion, God was pleased to use the ministry of Angels. The Archangel Gabriel (Strength of God) is sent as a messenger to Mary: “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son.” At Bethlehem angels announce the tidings of great joy: “This day is born to you a Saviour. You shall find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.” After the resurrection the women at the sepulchre meet an angel, who says to them, “Why seek you the living with the dead? He is not here, but he is risen.” And on mount Olivet two heavenly spirits tell the Apostles, “This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen Him going into heaven”: this will be His final solemn return in power and majesty, of which Jesus had said before the high priest, “I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man, sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64).

“And they went back to Jerusalem with great joy.” In this parting here was neither sadness nor distress; neither did they feel that here was the end of a glorious day and of a thrilling experience. With joy in their hearts they came down from the mountain, remembering His words, “If you loved me, you would indeed be glad because I go to the Father” (John 14:28). His presence with them had been a glorious day, followed now by a still more glorious one, because He was now with the Father and would send them the Paraclete, who would for ever abide with them. Soon they would see Him again, in the glory of heaven. The final triumph was assured.

Prayer: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that just as we believe in the Ascension into heaven on this day of Thine only-begotten Son, our Saviour, so we too, in spirit may make our dwelling in heaven. Through the same Lord (Collect, Mass of today).

Jesus, Mary, I love Thee; Save Souls!

Regina Caeli, Laetare, Alleluia!

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