Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday After Ascension

From homily of St. Augustine on the Ascension of Our Lord

The resurrection of the Lord is our hope ; the Ascension of the Lord is our glorification. Today we are keeping the Feast of the Ascension. If, therefore, we are to celebrate this holy day right fittingly, faithfully, devoutly, and in a holy and religious manner, we must in mind likewise ascend, and lift up our hearts, unto the Lord. When we ascend we must not be high-minded, nor flatter ourselves with our good works, as though they were our own. Rather, we must lift up our hearts unto the Lord. When man's heart is lifted up, but not unto the Lord, such lifting up is pride ; to lift up the heart unto the Lord, is to make the Most High our Refuge. Behold, my brethren, a great wonder. God is high, but if thou art lifted up he fleeth from thee ; whereas, if thou humblest thyself , he cometh down to thee. Wherefore? The Lord is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly ; as for the proud he beholdeth them afar off. To the lowly he hath respect, that he may raise them up ; the proud he knoweth from afar, that he may thrust them down. Christ arose again, to give us hope that this mortal will yet put on immortality. Thereby he hath given us a sure and certain hope, so that no one need die in despair, in the thought that death endeth life. For mankind hath ever been troubled about the future of the soul after death ; but Christ, arising from the grave hath even assured us as to the resurrection of the body also. Believe therefore, that thou mayest be cleansed and made pure. First it behoveth thee to believe, that afterwards by faith thou mayest attain to see God. And wouldest thou see God? Give ear to his own words : Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Think first, then, how to purify thine heart ; take from it whatsoever thou seest in it which displeaseth God.