Ascension of the Lord
Daniel, Chapter 8, Verse 23-25
23 At the end of their reign, when sinners have reached their measure, there shall arise a king, impudent, and skilled in intrigue. 24 He shall be strong and powerful, bring about FEARFUL ruin, and succeed in his undertaking. He shall destroy powerful peoples; 25 his cunning shall be against the holy ones, his treacherous conduct shall succeed. He shall be proud of heart and destroy many by stealth. But when he rises against the Prince of princes, he shall be broken without a hand being raised.
verse brings out images of how Christ’s love won over the Roman Empire and
through Rome was spread throughout the entire world. Rome controlled with human
fear. When we fear the Lord our contentment does not come from any absence of
problems but from knowingly choosing how to respond to them righteously. God
does not want to squash our dreams with His commandments. No, he listens and
smiles like we do when we see and hear the dreams of a child. Yet, He knows
that all dreams must be founded in reality and the truth. When our dreams work
against His commandments; our dreams work against us. Every dream must have a
foundation of love and in some way must increase the life, liberty or the
happiness of others. Yes, on the Day of Judgment the homes of the poor will be
honored more than the great mansions of the rich. Simple obedience to His laws
will be more highly praised than the brilliance of all the Kings, Presidents
and couriers throughout the world. Strive therefore for dreams which provide
earthly gain without the surrender to sin. So, the only real wealth is a clear
conscience; of a life well lived. To live righteously, to love chastely, to
learn the truth and to leave a legacy to others is the only true riches. Jesus
experienced the utmost depths of human fear.
Yet he found the strength even in that hour to trust the Father. “Abba, Father, all things are possible to
you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mk.
15:34) Can we at the final hour have the peace of Christ to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.
(Lk . 23:46)
Feast of the Ascension
Forty days after Easter, our Lord ascends into heaven. The Paschal candle is extinguished
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
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
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.
Devotions for Holy Communion
HOW WE OUGHT TO COMMUNICATE.
PREPARE yourself for holy communion the evening before by many thoughts of love, retiring earlier, that you may rise sooner in the morning. Should you awake in the night, raise your heart to God immediately, and make some ardent aspirations, in order to prepare your soul for the reception of her Spouse, Who, being awake whilst you were asleep, prepares a thousand graces and favors for you, if, on your part, you are disposed to receive them.
In the morning, rise up with eagerness to enjoy the happiness you hope for; and having confessed, go with a great but humble confidence to receive this heavenly food, which nourishes your soul to immortality: and after repeating thrice, “Lord, I am not worthy,” cease to move your lips to pray, or to sigh, but opening your mouth gently and moderately, and lifting up your head as much as is necessary, that the priest may see what he is about, full of faith, hope, and charity, receive Him, in Whom, by Whom, and for Whom you believe, hope, and Whom you love. Represent to yourself that as the bee, after gathering from the flowers the dew of heaven, and the choicest juice of the earth, reducing them into honey, carries it into her hive, so the priest, having taken from the altar the Savior of the world, the true Son of God, Who, as the dew, is descended from heaven, and the true Son of the Virgin, Who, as a flower, is sprung from the earth of our humanity, puts Him as delicious food into your mouth and body.
Having received Him in your breast, excite your heart to do homage to the author of your salvation; treat with Him concerning your internal affairs; consider that He has taken up His abode within you for your happiness; make Him then as welcome as you possibly can, and conduct yourself in such a manner as to make it appear by all your actions that God is with you.
But when you cannot enjoy the benefit of really communicating at holy Mass, communicate at least spiritually, uniting yourself by an ardent desire to this life-giving flesh of Our Savior. Your principal intention in communicating should be to advance in virtue, to strengthen yourself in the love of God, and to receive comfort from this love; for you must receive through love that which love alone caused to be given to you. You cannot consider Our Savior in an action either more full of love, or more tender than this, in which He annihilates Himself, or, as we may more properly say, changes Himself into food, that so He may penetrate our souls, and unite Himself most intimately to the heart, and to the body of His faithful.
If worldlings ask you why you communicate so often, tell them it is to learn to love God, to purify yourself from your imperfections, to be delivered from your miseries, to be comforted in your afflictions, and supported in your weaknesses.
Tell them that two sorts of persons ought to communicate frequently: the perfect, because, being well disposed, they would be greatly to blame not to approach to the source and fountain of perfection; and the imperfect, to the end that they may be able to aspire to perfection; the strong, lest they should become weak; and the weak, that they may become strong; the healthy, lest they should fall into sickness; and the sick, that they may be restored to health: that for your part, being imperfect, weak, and sick, you have need to communicate frequently with Him Who is your perfection, your strength, and your physician.
Tell them that those who have not many worldly affairs to look after ought to communicate often, because they have leisure; that those who have much business on hand should also communicate often, for he who labors much and is loaded with toil ought to eat solid food, and that frequently.
Tell them that you receive the Holy Sacrament, to learn to receive it well; because one can hardly perform an action well which he does not often practice. Communicate frequently, then, and as frequently as you can, with the advice of your ghostly father; and, believe me, by approaching to and eating beauty, purity, and goodness itself, in this divine sacrament, you will become altogether fair, pure, and virtuous.
Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling
of The Most
Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix,
to Priests, Deacons, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix
on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Hold Nothing Back from Christ
27. On the sacred day of Holy Thursday, Jesus’ last night with His disciples, He knew that soon He would return to His Father, but He also knew how much they will need His presence, one that “The Imitation of Christ” eloquently describes as consoling and strengthening: “When Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings great consolation” (Book II Chapter 8). In a certain sense, we can say that here Jesus faces a dilemma. On the one hand, He desires to return to His Father and on the other hand, He desires to remain with His disciples. God’s love always finds an ingenious solution to such dilemma. Jesus returns to His Father, but by instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist, at the same time He remains with His disciples, to accompany them in the challenges, difficulties, and suffering that they will face as they take on the mission of preaching the Good News. Through the Eucharist, Jesus gives the greatest gift of Himself to His disciples and to us. Indeed, the Eucharist is truly the sacrament of Christ’s love!
28. God’s love for us did not stop at the Incarnation. He did not just become one of us and share our life from conception to death and redeem us through His suffering, Death and Resurrection. His self-giving love went beyond by becoming our very nourishment. The Eucharist reveals how much Jesus loves us. Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, expresses eloquently God’s extreme love for us in the Eucharist: “Never would we have thought of asking God to give us His own Son. But what man could not have even imagined, God has done. What man could not say or think, and what he could not have dared to desire, God, in His love has said it, planned it and carried His design into execution. We would never have dared to say to God to have His Son die for us, to give us His Body to eat, His Blood to drink… In other words, what man could not even conceive, God has executed. He went further in His designs of love than we could have dreamed” (The Eucharist Meditation of the Curé D’Ars, Meditation I).
29. How do we, then, respond to the Lord’s gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist? Do we really desire Him? Are we anxious to meet Him? Do we desire to encounter Him, become one with Him and receive the gifts He offers us through the Eucharist?
To be continued…
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
SECTION TWO I. THE CREEDS
CHAPTER THREE-I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
ARTICLE 8-"I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT"
II. The Name, Titles, and Symbols of the Holy Spirit
The proper name of the Holy Spirit
691 "Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. the Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children.
The term "Spirit" translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God's breath, the divine Spirit. On the other hand, "Spirit" and "Holy" are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms "spirit" and "holy."
Titles of the Holy Spirit
692 When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the "Paraclete," literally, "he who is called to one's side," advocatus. "Paraclete" is commonly translated by "consoler," and Jesus is the first consoler. The Lord also called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth."
693 Besides the proper name of "Holy Spirit," which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise, The Spirit of adoption, The Spirit of Christ, The Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirit of God - and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.
Symbols of the Holy Spirit
694 Water. the symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus, the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.
695 Anointing. the symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called "chrismation" in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew "messiah") means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David. But Jesus is God's Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. the Holy Spirit established him as "Christ." The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord. The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving. Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Now, fully established as "Christ" in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until "the saints" constitute - in their union with the humanity of the Son of God - that perfect man "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ": "the whole Christ," in St. Augustine's expression.
696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. the prayer of the prophet Elijah, who "arose like fire" and whose "word burned like a torch," brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a "figure" of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes "before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah," proclaims Christ as the one who "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Jesus will say of the Spirit: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" In the form of tongues "as of fire," the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's actions. "Do not quench the Spirit."
697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory - with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. the Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'" Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.
698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. "The Father has set his seal" on Christ and also seals us in him. Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible "character" imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.
699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them. In his name the apostles will do the same. Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles' imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given. The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the "fundamental elements" of its teaching. The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.
700 The finger. "It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons." If God's law was written on tablets of stone "by the finger of God," then the "letter from Christ" entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written "with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the "finger of the Father's right hand."
701 The dove. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him. The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove (columbarium) suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest the Spirit.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896