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Thursday, May 25, 2006
Ascension Thursday

Today is 40 days after Easter Sunday and the day we celebrate Our Lord's Glorious Ascension into Heaven. The Ascension has three principal parts: the departure of Jesus from earth, His going up into heaven, and taking His place at the right hand of the Father. In addition to the information posted below, see Fish Eaters for more information on the Solemnity of the Ascension.

In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for "the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit."

When they had gathered together they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

Acts 1:1-12

I am trying to put myself in the disciples place. They had been with Jesus for 3 years, saw Him suffer and die, and then they rejoiced to see Our Risen Lord. Imagine the pain in them when they knew that Our Lord was leaving them - this time they would not see Him until they would die and stand before Him in Judgement. It must have been terribly lonely and painful for them at first, but then as we look at John 14:1-3, we see the reason that Our Lord was to ascend:

Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.

I have heard the Ascension called the capstone of the life of Jesus, but Jesus is not gone completely! He has promised to remain with us till the end of the ages, and He does this by the Holy Eucharist. Jesus Christ is in the Holy Eucharist. When Jesus was speaking of the Eucharist, His disciples were murmuring about having to eat His flesh. Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?" (Jn.6:61-62). Jesus is still with us and shall remain with us. He looks out for us and loves us. Jesus is Our God forever and ever! Today is a glorious event and we celebrate!

Let us go forth this day still in the Easter Joy. We are sinners, but, if we are repentent and seek Our Lord in the Sacrament of Confession, then we can be forgiven. Jesus gave us the Sacraments and the Church through His disciples for this day - the day He would ascend bodily into Heaven. How glorious it must have been!

Concerning the place of Jesus's Ascension, I received this in an email. Unfortunately, the place of Our Lord's Ascension is currently the location of a mosque.

"Regarding the place from which Christ ascended, Sulpicius, bishop of Jerusalem, says, and the 'Gloss' also says, that when a church was built [on the Mount of Olives] later on, the spot where Christ had stood could never be covered with pavement; and more than that, the marble slabs placed there burst upwards into the faces of those who were laying them. He also says that footmarks in the dust there prove that the Lord had stood on that spot: the footprints are discernible and the ground still retains the depressions his feet had left.
Let us praise Our God!


"In the Ascension the Savior did not lay aside the garment of flesh with which He had been clothed; for His human nature would be the pattern of the future glory of other human natures, which would become incorporated to Him through a sharing of His life. Intrinsic and deep was the relation between His Incarnation and His Ascension. The Incarnation or the assuming of a human nature made it possible for Him to suffer and redeem. The Ascension exalted into glory that same human nature that was humbled to the death."

- Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ

Te Deum:

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Thy Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.


del_button May 17, 2007 at 4:08 PM
Anonymous said...

Thank you Matthew for the history of the Church of the Ascension. I didn't realize that one could still see Christ's footprint on the spot from where He ascended into heaven. I shudder at the knowledge that this holy relic is in a Mosque! And to think how they have persecuted us for centuries in the face of this divine proof.
Whenever I meditate on the Ascension, I pray God save our church from the ecumainia everywhere, and that our bishops once again abide by Christ's command to His apostles on the 40th day of Easter: Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

del_button May 18, 2007 at 6:51 AM
Seminarian Matthew said...

I feel the same way, anonymous.

del_button April 29, 2008 at 7:18 AM
Murphy said...

Greetings from South Africa. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your site. I hope that as I write this today - 29th April 2008 - you are still strong in the faith and in your vocation. Blessings and peace. Marion

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