May 13: Heal Our Land Holy Hour - Join Us!
1 Samuel, Chapter 13, Verse 6-7
6 When the soldiers saw they were in danger because the army was hardpressed, they hid themselves in caves, thickets, rocks, caverns, and cisterns. 7 Other Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul, however, held out in Gilgal, all his army trembling in FEAR behind him.
This was a low point for Israel. Probably many of them thought, “What we really need is a king. A king would solve our problems.” Now they have a king, and the problems are still there. We often think things will “fix” problems when they won’t at all. “And hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of all fleshly confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need the help and favor of God now than they did before, when they had no king.” 
Men are foolhardy things when faith and trust in God leaves; fear and pride enters in. We see this in the response of the Jew’s to Pilate.
When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!” They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:13-15)
Feast of the Ascension
AT the Introit of the Mass the Church sings the words spoken by the angels to the apostles when Jesus ascended to heaven: “Ye men of Galilee, why wonder ye, looking up to heaven? Alleluia. He shall so come as you have seen Him going up into heaven, alleluia! alleluia! alleluia! Oh, clap your hands, all ye nations, shout unto God with the voice of joy.”
Prayer. Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we who believe that Thy only begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day into heaven, may ourselves also, in mind, dwell in heavenly things.
EPISTLE. Acts i. 1-11.
The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up: to whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard, saith He, by my mouth: for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. They therefore who were come together asked Him, saying: Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
But He said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in His own power. But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had said these things, while they looked on, He was raised up: and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven?
This Jesus Who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven.
Explanation. For forty days after His resurrection, Jesus remained with His disciples, to convince them of the truth of His resurrection, to teach them in regard to His kingdom, that is, His Church, and their vocation; and as they were still thinking of an earthly kingdom to be established by Christ, He referred them to the instruction of the Holy Ghost, and then ascended to heaven, whence He shall come to be our judge. Rejoice over the instructions which are preserved for you through the Church; but rejoice especially that Jesus has taken possession of the glory gained by His most profound humiliations, for now He is there an intercessor for you; there He prepares for you a mansion; there is now your home. To-day look up to heaven where Christ is, hope, suffer, love, and pray.
GOSPEL. Mark xvi. 14-20.
At that time, as the eleven were at table, Jesus appeared to them and He upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart: because they did not believe them who had seen Him after He was risen again. And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In My name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and con firming the word with signs that followed. “Let us ‘says St. Augustine, “in spirit, ascend with Christ, that when the time comes, we may follow Him in body also. But we must know, dear brethren, that neither pride, nor avarice, nor impurity can ascend with Christ, our Lord, for pride does not keep company with the teacher of humility, nor wickedness with the source of all good, nor impurity with the Son of the Virgin.”
Aspiration. O King of glory! Who didst on this day ascend victoriously above the heavens, leave us not orphans, but send us, from the Father, the Spirit of truth Whom Thou hast promised, and receive us all into Thy glory.
Why, on this day, is the Easter-candle extinguished and carried away after the gospel?
It is done in remembrance of the hour in which Christ, Who is typified by the Easter-candle, left this earth.
Ascension Thursday Customs
In the early centuries the Church celebrated the Feast of the Ascension with elaborate processions that imitated Christ's conducting His Apostles to Bethany (Lk. 24.50). Eventually, however, these liturgical processions became nonliturgical pageants, and the pageants, in turn, became plays. Ascension Thursday was a day for special effects. This could happen in a dignified way during the Mass, as when in Germany the priest would lift a crucifix during the Gospel at the words, "He was taken up into heaven," or it could happen in a dramatic way after Mass with a theatrical representation of the Ascension event. Statues of the risen Christ would be hoisted by pulleys into the air and then either concealed by white silk representing clouds or pulled through an opening in the ceiling. The audience would then be showered with roses, lilies, and wafers. The flowers symbolized the various gifts of the Holy Spirit promised by Christ before He left, while the wafers reminded all that Jesus is still present to us in the Blessed Sacrament.
· Traditional banquets on this day would gastronomically imitate Christ's ascension by making the main course something that could fly to heaven. Birds of almost every feather - pigeons, pheasants, partridges, and even crows - eventually found their way to the Ascension Day table.
In Central Europe Ascension Thursday is a popular day for mountain climbing or picnicking on hilltops. No doubt this is in commemoration of the summit of the Mount of Olives from which Christ ascended and the heights to which he soared. A similarly inspired tradition is eating some kind of bird for the Feast since on this day Christ "flew" to Heaven.
Like any other solemnity, Ascension Thursday is supposed to be a day of rest and liberal leisure. For some reason or another, however, traditional folklore treats this observance for today with particular severity. Popular superstitions warned against working in field or garden, and special punishments were purportedly reserved for women who sewed. Any needle, it was thought, that was used for work on Ascension Thursday would soon attract lightning!
Ascension commemorates the day that Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:1-11) after spending 40 days appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. The disciples thought Jesus was going to restore the earth to the Kingdom of Heaven, but instead, as he promised to send the Holy Spirit to give them power, he ascended into Heaven and disappeared in a cloud. Ascension is the 40th day after Easter, celebrated on the sixth Sunday of the Easter season in Protestant churches and on the 40th day after Easter in Roman Catholic churches.
Ascension Facts & Quotes
· The Apostle's Creed, one of the statements of faith in the Christian Church, mentions Jesus' ascension:
· I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. The third day he rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
· An ancient custom in England, called the Beating of the Bounds, is often performed on or near Ascension. Before maps, this was the day that people would mark the boundaries of their property with stones marked with chalk. Some English churches still perform the custom, led by the vicar. Church members carry sticks to wick at weeds as they process.
· In the Orthodox tradition, celebration of the Jesus' Ascension starts with an all-night vigil or vespers (evening) service beginning on Saturday.
Ascension Top Events and Things to Do
· Johann Sebastian Bach wrote several pieces related to both Easter and the Ascension. Listen to Bach's the Ascension Oratorio, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (Praise God in His Kingdoms) on YouTube.
· Go bird watching. A custom in Sweden, is to get up early in the morning of Ascension and venture out into the woods to listen for the call of a cuckoo. It is considered good luck to hear one on this holiday.
· Go to church and learn about why Jesus' ascension is important to the Christian faith. Jesus is considered to be both human and divine, and the ascension is an illustration of Christ's divine nature.
· View paintings that depict the ascension. One of the most famous works is The Ascension of Christ by Rembrandt Van Rijn.
Preparing for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit
On Ascension Day the Lumen Christi is taken from the dining room table to signify that the Lord has ascended. In the days when the Faith was flourishing, the Sunday after the feast of the Ascension was called "The Sunday of the Roses," the name given from the custom of strewing the pavements of the churches with roses, as an homage to Christ who ascended into heaven when the earth was in the season of flowers. Why cannot we in our day have roses in our homes, make an offering of flowers to our church, or take roses from our gardens to one infirm or sick?
Here are some prayers and meditations to be said in the family between the Ascension and Pentecost Sunday.
One of the simplest ways we have found for young children to prepare for Pentecost is by meditating on the mysteries of the Chaplet of the Holy Spirit. We reflect on one mystery a day.
Opening Prayer: Sign of the Cross-Act of Contrition
First Mystery: Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.
Meditation: The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore, the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God (Luke 11:35).
Prayers: One Our Father and Hail Mary; seven Glory be to the Father.
Second Mystery: The Spirit of the Lord rests upon Jesus.
Meditation: When Jesus was baptized, He immediately came up from the water. And behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a Dove and coming upon Him (Matthew 3:16). Prayers: One Our Father and Hail Mary; seven Glory be to the Father.
Third Mystery: Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert.
Meditation: Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit about the desert for forty days, being tempted the while by the devil (Luke 4:11). Prayers: One Our Father and Hail Mary; seven Glory be to the Father.
Fourth Mystery: The Holy Spirit in the Church.
Meditation: Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:2, 4, 11). Prayers: One Our Father and Hail Mary; seven Glory be to the Father.
Fifth Mystery: The Holy Spirit in the souls of the Just.
Meditation: Or, do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Do not extinguish the Spirit. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Thess. 5:19; Eph. 4:30).
Prayers: One Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary; seven Glory be to the Father.
May 13 is the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children in the small village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She appeared six times to Lucia, 9, and her cousins Francisco, 8, and his sister Jacinta, 6, between May 13, 1917 and October 13, 1917. The story of Fatima begins in 1916, when, against the backdrop of the First World War which had introduced Europe to the most horrific and powerful forms of warfare yet seen, and a year before the Communist revolution would plunge Russia and later Eastern Europe into six decades of oppression under militant atheistic governments, a resplendent figure appeared to the three children who were in the field tending the family sheep.
“I am the Angel of Peace,” said the figure, who appeared to them two more times that year exhorting them to accept the sufferings that the Lord allowed them to undergo as an act of reparation for the sins which offend Him, and to pray constantly for the conversion of sinners.
Then, on the 13th day of the month of Our Lady, May 1917, an apparition of ‘a woman all in white, more brilliant than the sun’ presented itself to the three children saying “Please don’t be afraid of me, I’m not going to harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from and she responded, “I come from Heaven.” The woman wore a white mantle edged with gold and held a rosary in her hand. The woman asked them to pray and devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to “say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”
She also revealed that the children would suffer, especially from the unbelief of their friends and families, and that the two younger children, Francisco and Jacinta would be taken to Heaven very soon, but Lucia would live longer in order to spread her message and devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
In the last apparition the woman revealed her name in response to Lucia’s question: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” That same day, 70,000 people had turned out to witness the apparition, following a promise by the woman that she would show the people that the apparitions were true. They saw the sun make three circles and move around the sky in an incredible zigzag movement in a manner which left no doubt in their minds about the veracity of the apparitions. By 1930 the Bishop had approved of the apparitions and they have been approved by the Church as authentic. The messages Our Lady imparted during the apparitions to the children concerned the violent trials that would afflict the world by means of war, starvation, and the persecution of the Church and the Holy Father in the twentieth century if the world did not make reparation for sins. She exhorted the Church to pray and offer sacrifices to God in order that peace may come upon the world, and that the trials may be averted.
Our Lady of Fatima revealed three prophetic “secrets,” the first two of which were revealed earlier and refer to the vision of hell and the souls languishing there, the request for an ardent devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the prediction of the Second World War, and finally the prediction of the immense damage that Russia would do to humanity by abandoning the Christian faith and embracing Communist totalitarianism.
The third “secret” was not revealed until the year 2000, and referred to the persecutions that humanity would undergo in the last century: “The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated'”. The suffering of the popes of the 20th century has been interpreted to include the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, which took place on May 13, the 64th anniversary of the apparitions. The Holy Father attributed his escape from certain death to the intervention of Our Lady: “... it was a mother's hand that guided the bullet's path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death.” What is the central meaning of the message of Fatima?
Nothing different from what the Church has always taught: it is, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict the XVI, has put it, “the exhortation to prayer as the path of “salvation for souls” and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.” Perhaps the most well-known utterance of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima was her confident declaration that “My Immaculate Heart will triumph”. Cardinal Ratzinger has interpreted this utterance as follows: “The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896