The Ascension of the Lord


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The Ascension of the Lord—Solemnity

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter or on the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Liturgical Color: White
Version: FullShort

Quote:
When they had gathered together they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. ~Acts 6:1–12

Reflection: The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord commemorates the fortieth day after the Resurrection when Jesus ascended body and soul into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand of His Father. Traditionally, the location of the Ascension is believed to be less than a mile east of the Old City of Jerusalem, and that spot is marked by the Chapel of the Ascension, which is said to contain a miraculous imprint of the footprints of Christ before He ascended. The event of the Ascension is found in the Gospels and Acts (Mark 16:19–20; Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:6–12). It is also alluded to in various other passages (John 6:62; Ephesians 4:7–10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 3:21–22).

Only Jesus and His Blessed Mother have entered into the glories of Heaven, body and soul. Jesus’ Ascension implies that He did so by His own authority and power. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption implies that she entered Heaven, body and soul, by God’s power, and not her own.

The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus’ earthly mission. He first united His divine nature with human nature through the Incarnation at the moment of the Annunciation. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that from that moment on, Jesus, the Son of God, experienced three types of knowledge. First, being God, He had beatific knowledge, that is, a direct knowledge of His essence, the Father’s essence, and the Holy Spirit’s essence. Second, He had the perfection of infused knowledge, that is, a bestowal of all truths given to the angels in Heaven, especially those truths necessary for the completion of His divine mission. Third, He began to acquire learned knowledge, or experiential knowledge. This was the form of knowledge attained through His human nature from the senses and His human reason.

As Jesus fulfilled His mission through life, His learned knowledge continued to grow until it was perfected in human form. It was never imperfect in the sense of sin, but only in the sense of growth through human experience and human love. He experienced all things, allowed the perfection of His beatific and infused knowledge to guide His human experiences and brought those human experiences and knowledge to perfection. His free embrace of the Cross manifested the perfection of divine love in human form, and His Resurrection brought that perfect unity of human and divine love to a new and transformed resurrected state of human existence. But that was not all. Today we commemorate the fact that Jesus took His perfected human nature into the Beatific Vision, enabling humanity itself to follow. The Blessed Virgin Mary was the first to do so given her sinless state.

The final stage of the salvation of humanity will take place when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. At that time, every human body will rise, will endure the final purification and transformation, and will share in the new and resurrected state in which the faithful will be able to stand, body and soul, before the Most Holy Trinity and experience the fullness of the Beatific Vision forever. What Jesus has already accomplished in His human form is what we look forward to in hope at the end of time.

The Feast of the Ascension was celebrated annually from as early as apostolic times. Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and Saint Augustine all attest to this fact. When the Council of Nicaea set the date for the celebration of the Resurrection in 325, it chose to keep Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox in spring. This decision also set the day for the Ascension being forty days after Easter, on a Thursday. Today, many ecclesiastical provinces transfer the Thursday celebration to the following Sunday to provide for a wider celebration.

Though every aspect of Christ’s life is shrouded in mysteries which will only be fully understood by the faithful when they stand before Him and behold the Beatific Vision, today we especially ponder this beautiful and profound mystery of our faith. As we celebrate the Ascension, try to prayerfully meditate upon the perfect unity of Jesus’ human and divine natures. Ponder further the truth that because the Son of God is both God and man, and He beholds His Father and the Holy Spirit as both God and man, He invites each of us to begin to share in that glorious vision. Only after we fully die in and with Him and rise to new life in and with Him will we be able to know Him clearly and share in His glorious resurrected and ascended life. Until that moment comes, it’s important to ponder that which is incomprehensible. We must know that we do not know, believe what is beyond belief, hope in that which is more than we can understand. God is a mystery; the Ascension is a mystery—but they are mysteries that must be penetrated by prayer. Do so today as we commemorate this holy culmination of the earthly life and mission of Christ.

Prayer: My Ascended Lord, forty days after You rose from the dead You ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, taking up Your throne from which You pour forth both judgment and mercy. As we honor this great mystery of Your divine and human life, I beg for mercy upon me and upon the whole world. Free us from all sin, and open the floodgates of Your mercy so that all people will share one day, body and soul, in the glory of Your Beatific Vision. Jesus, I trust in You.

Reflection taken from:

Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Volumes One–Four


Further Reading:

Prayer meditation for the Ascension of the Lord

Reflection for the Ascension of the Lord

Catholic Saints & Feasts

Catholic Encyclopedia—Ascension

Catholic Encyclopedia—Feast of the Ascension

Vatican News

EWTN

Hallow

Simply Catholic

Wikipedia


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The Ascension of the Lord—Solemnity

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter or on the Seventh Sunday of Easter

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord commemorates the fortieth day after the Resurrection when Jesus ascended body and soul into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand of His Father. The Ascension is believed to have occurred less than a mile east of the Old City of Jerusalem. The event is found in the Gospels and Acts (Mark 16:19–20; Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:6–12) and is alluded to in John 6:62; Ephesians 4:7–10; 1 Timothy 3:16; and 1 Peter 3:21–22.

The Ascension marks the completion of Jesus’ earthly mission. He first united His divine nature with human nature through the Incarnation at the moment of the Annunciation. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that from that moment on, Jesus, the Son of God, experienced three types of knowledge. First, being God, He had beatific knowledge, that is, a direct knowledge of His, the Father’s, and the Holy Spirit’s essence. Second, He had the perfection of infused knowledge, that is, a bestowal of all truths given to the angels in Heaven, especially those truths necessary for the completion of His divine mission. Third, He began to acquire learned knowledge, or experiential knowledge. This was the form of knowledge attained through His human nature from the senses and His human reason.

As Jesus fulfilled His mission, His learned knowledge continued to grow until it was perfected in human form. It was never imperfect in the sense of sin, but only in the sense of growth through human experience and human love. He experienced all things, allowed the perfection of His beatific and infused knowledge to guide His human experiences, and brought those human experiences and knowledge to perfection. His free embrace of the Cross manifested the perfection of divine love in human form, and His Resurrection brought that perfect unity of human and divine love to a new and transformed resurrected state of human existence. Today we commemorate that Jesus took His perfected human nature into the Beatific Vision, enabling humanity itself to follow. 

The final stage of the salvation of humanity will take place when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. At that time, every human body will rise, will endure the final purification and transformation, and will share in the new and resurrected state in which the faithful will stand, body and soul, before the Most Holy Trinity and experience the fullness of the Beatific Vision forever. What Jesus has already accomplished in His human form is what we look forward to in hope at the end of time.

The Feast of the Ascension was celebrated annually from as early as apostolic times. When the Council of Nicaea set the date for the celebration of the Resurrection in 325, it chose to keep Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. This decision also placed the Ascension, being forty days after Easter, on a Thursday. Today, many ecclesiastical provinces transfer the celebration to the following Sunday to provide for a wider celebration.

My Ascended Lord, forty days after You rose from the dead You ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, taking up Your throne from which You pour forth both judgment and mercy. As we honor this great mystery, I beg for mercy upon me and upon the whole world. Free us from all sin, and open the floodgates of Your mercy so that all people will share one day, body and soul, in the glory of Your Beatific Vision. Jesus, I trust in You.

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