Wildlife fills our life with joy and refreshment. Songbirds and birds of prey, squirrels and rabbits, butterflies and lightning bugs all carry a message worth discovering in early summer. Do we see and hear them, or do we overlook them, even despise them? Are they simply an annoyance, or do we come to know, love, and even serve these fellow creatures by providing protection and habitat?
Our hearts need to be fixed within the Liturgical Year. We can find rest and consolation and direction with and from the liturgy of the Church.
Every year I find myself with mixed emotions contemplating the Ascension. I always think the Apostles would have felt some sadness and they would have missed Jesus. They thought they had lost Him completely in His death on the cross, only to have the impossible and unthinkable of Him rising from the dead. Jesus was alive! For forty days Jesus appeared to them at various times. His presence wasn't the same as before, as He didn't eat and sleep and live with them anymore, but His resurrection and presence was even more of a gift. And then He gives them His final commission and ascends to the Father, not to return in an appearance with His glorified body.
Did the Apostles sometimes hope He would appear, or did they know that this was the last time they would see Him? It feels like it should be a sad day, with the Apostles missing the human presence of Jesus.
But the Gospel for the Ascension clearly says:
They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God (Luke 24:53).The whole Ascension liturgy is filled with reference to joy and rejoicing. The Collect opens with Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving....The Responsorial Psalm from Psalm 47 is full of rejoicing:
God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
What is this joy we are to have, when it seems bittersweet for Jesus to leave us? The answer lies in the words of the Solemn Blessing:
And may you, who believe he is seated
with the Father in his majesty,
know with joy the fulfillment of his promise
to stay with you until the end of time.
He is gone physically, but remains with us until the end of time. And that is the secret of our joy.
We are preparing our hearts and homes (and atrium) for this great feast. I've written a few posts the provide more specifics in celebrating this feast: