The ASCENSION of OUR LORD – 26 May
By Abbot Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875) Excerpt
The Sun of the fortieth day has risen in all His splendour! The earth, which shook with gladness at the Birth of our Emmanuel (Ps. xcv. xcvi. xcvii.), now thrills with a strange emotion. The Divine series of the Mysteries of the Man-God is about to close. Heaven has caught up the joy of earth. The Angelic Choirs are preparing to receive their promised King and their Princes stand at the Gates, that they may open them when the signal is given of the mighty Conqueror’s approach (Ibid. xxiii. 7). The holy souls, that were liberated from Limbo on the morning of the Resurrection, are hovering round Jerusalem, waiting for the happy moment when Heaven’s gate, closed by Adam’s sin, shall be thrown open and they shall enter, in company with their Redeemer: a few hours more and then to Heaven! Meanwhile, our Risen Jesus has to visit His Disciples and bid them farewell, for they are to be left, for some years longer, in this vale of tears.
They are in the Cenacle, impatiently awaiting His coming. Suddenly He appears in their midst. Of the Mother’s joy, who would dare to speak? As to the Disciples and the holy Women, they fall down and affectionately adore the Master, Who has come to take His leave of them. He deigns to sit down to table with them, He even condescends to eat with them, not, indeed, to give them proof of His Resurrection, for He knows that they have no further doubts of the Mystery but now that He is about to sit at the Right Hand of the Father, He would give them this endearing mark of familiarity. O admirable repast! in which Mary, for the last time in this world, is seated side by side with her Jesus and in which the Church, (represented by the Disciples and the holy Women,) is honoured by the visible presidency of her Head and Spouse. …
Then assuming a tone of authority, such as none but a God could take, He says to them: Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved but he that believeth not, shall be condemned (Ibid. xvi. 15, 16). And how shall they accomplish this mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world? how shall they persuade men to believe their word? By Miracles. And these signs, continues Jesus, 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 (St. Mark, svi. 17, 18). He would have Miracles to be the foundation of His Church, just as He had made them the argument of His own Divine Mission. The suspension of the laws of nature proves to us that it is God Who speaks, we must receive the word and humbly believe it. …
But the hour of separation is come. Jesus rises: His blessed Mother and the hundred and twenty persons assembled there, prepare to follow Him. The Cenacle is situated on Mount Sion, which is one of the two hills within the walls of Jerusalem. The holy group traverses the City, making for the eastern Gate, which opens on the Valley of Josaphat. It is the last time that Jesus walks through the faithless City. He is invisible to the eyes of the people who denied Him but visible to His Disciples and goes before them, as, heretofore, the pillar of fire led on the Israelites. How beautiful and imposing a sight! Mary, the Disciples and the holy Women, accompanying Jesus in His Heaven-ward journey, which is to lead Him to the Right Hand of His Eternal Father! It was commemorated in the Middle-Ages by a solemn Procession before the Mass of Ascension Day. What happy times were those, when Christians took delight in honouring every action of our Redeemer! They could not be satisfied, as we are, with a few vague notions, which can produce nothing but an equally vague devotion! …
According to a tradition, which has been handed down from the earliest ages of Christianity (Constit. Apost., lib. v. cap. xix), it is mid-day, the same hour that He had been raised up, when nailed to His Cross. Giving His Blessed Mother a look of filial affection and another of fond farewell to the rest of the group, who stand around Him, Jesus raises up His Hands and blesses them all. Whilst thus blessing them, He is raised up from the ground whereon He stands and ascends into Heaven (St. Luke, xxiv. 51). Their eyes follow Him, until a cloud comes and receives Him out of their sight (Acts, i. 9).
Yes, Jesus is gone! The earth has lost her Emmanuel! … During the Forty days He has deigned to spend with us, since His Resurrection, our faith has made us cling to Him: we would fain have kept Him with us forever but the hour is come, He has left us; yes, our dearest Jesus is gone! O happy the souls that He had taken from Limbo! they have gone with Him and, for all eternity, are to enjoy the heaven of His visible presence.
The Disciples are still steadfastly looking up towards Heaven, when lo! two Angels, clad in white robes, appear to them, saying: Ye men of Galilee! why stand ye looking up to heaven? This Jesus, Who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as ye have seen Him going into heaven (Acts, i. 10, 11)! He has ascended, a Saviour; He is to return, as Judge; between these two events is comprised the whole life of the Church on earth. We are, therefore, living under the reign of Jesus as our Saviour, for He has said: God sent not His Son into the world to Judge the world, but that the world might be Saved by Him (St. Joh, iii. 17) and to carry out this merciful design, He has just been giving to His Disciples, the mission to go throughout the whole world and invite men, whilst yet there is time, to accept the mystery of Salvation! … The Angels said to the Apostles: This Jesus shall come, as ye have seen Him going into heaven: happy we, if, during His absence, we shall have so unreservedly loved and served Him, as to be able to meet Him, with confidence, when He comes to judge us!
4 thoughts on “The ASCENSION of OUR LORD”
Annie, I now have a most beautiful recollection of Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven! Thank you for presenting this beautiful moment for me to hold in my heart forever.
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I am so happy you were blessed and inspired dear Hughie. And now “whilst yet there is time,” let us go forward and spread His beauty, let us run to do His Will!