Thursday, May 9, 2013

He ascended into heaven...

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord*
*All worldwide and ecclesiastical U.S. provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and the state of Nebraska have retained this celebration on Thursday, while all other U.S. provinces have transferred this Solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12.

...the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of Christ
into heaven, according to Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:2. 
In the liturgies the day is meant to celebrate the completion of the work
of our salvation, the pledge of our glorification with Christ,
and His entry into heaven with our human nature glorified.

The Ascension of The Lord

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor,
First begotten from the dead,
Thou alone, our strong Defender,
Liftest up Thy people’s head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living Bread!
Life imparting heavenly Manna,
Smitten Rock with streaming side
Heaven and earth with loud hosanna
Worship thee, the Lamb who died.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Risen, ascended glorified!

"We know with holy and Catholic Faith that what was not assumed, was not redeemed" (St. Gregory of Nazianzus – +389/90).  Our humanity, body and soul, was taken by the Son into an unbreakable bond with His divinity. When Christ rose from the tomb, our humanity rose in Him. When He ascended to heaven, so also did we ascend.  In Christ, our humanity now sits at the Father’s right hand.  His presence there is our great promise and hope here.  It is already fulfilled, but not yet in its fullness.  That hope informs our trials in this life.

Be clear. Not only Christ’s humanity but our humanity ascended into heaven.  Preaching on 1 June 444 St. Leo I, “the Great” (+461) taught “Truly it was a great and indescribable source of rejoicing when, in the sight of the heavenly multitudes, the nature of our human race ascended over the dignity of all heavenly creatures, to pass the angelic orders and to be raised beyond the heights of archangels. In its ascension it did not stop at any other height until this same nature was received at the seat of the eternal Father, to be associated on the throne of the glory of that One to whose nature it was joined in the Son.” 

Leo says in another sermon of 17 May 445, “This Faith, reinforced by the Ascension of the Lord and strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, has not been terrified by chains, by prison, by exile, by hunger, by fire, by the mangling of wild beasts, nor by sharp suffering from the cruelty of persecutors.  Throughout the world, not only men but also women, not just immature boys but also tender virgins, have struggled on behalf of this Faith even to the shedding of their blood.  This Faith has cast out demons, driven away sicknesses, and raised the dead.” 

The Feast of the Ascension marks the beginning of the first novena, or nine days of prayer.  Today, Catholics recall that first novena by praying the Novena to the Holy Ghost between Ascension and Pentecost, asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. You can take part in the novena by signing up for a free e-mail reminder for the Novena to the Holy Ghost. BEGIN PRAYING the NOVENA FRIDAY!  Try to attend Mass each day...
 "Let our hearts ascend with Christ."  ~ St Augustine

OR simply pray each day ...

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful,
and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.
V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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