Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Ascension of Our Lord


Ascension is the feast of joyful hope, a foretaste of heaven. We are rising our hearts toward heaven, so that we may begin to dwell in spirit where Jesus had gone before us as we pray the beautiful prayer in the liturgy today: "Grant, O almighty God, that we, too, may dwell in spirit in the heavenly mansions" (Collect).  St Leo says: "Christ's Ascension is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day  being where its glorious Head has preceded it" (Roman Breviary). In fact, Our Lord had already said in His discourse after Last Supper: "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" (John 14:2,3). By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day for "in the person of Jesus, we have penetrated the heights of heaven" (St Leo RB). As in Christ Crucified we die to sin, as in the risen Christ we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. Our right to heaven has been given to us, our place is ready; it is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it some day, for Christ says: "Where thy treasure  is, there is thy heart also" (Mt 6:21).

Let us thank Our Lord for all He has done for us and love Him with our imperfect love as much as we can. Let us express our gratitude and love with beautiful words of St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi: "O my God, O my Jesus, You are going away and leaving us! Oh! what joy there will in heaven! But we have to remain here on earth. O eternal Word, what has Your creature done for You, that You should do so much for him and then ascend into heaven to glorify him even more? What has he given You? What do You look for in him? You love him so much that You give Yourself to him, You who are all things, and besides whom there is nothing. You want from him his entire will and intellect, because when he gives them to You, he gives You all that he has. O infinite Wisdom, O supreme Good, O Love, O Love so little known, little loved, and possessed by so few! Oh! our ingratitude, cause of every evil! O Purity, so little known and so little desired! O my Spouse, now that You are in heaven, seated at the right hand of the eternal Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me"