The feast of the Ascension is celebrated on the 40th day after Jesus Resurrection. It was celebrated today, the sixth Thursday after Easter. Ascension also celebrates the passing of the Holy Spirit from Jesus to his followers for early Christians to carry on his work.
In the meditation of the Day in the Magnificat, Saint Josemaria Escriva, a Spanish Priest writes about the Ascension. “Many things have happened since our Lord was born in Bethlehem. We have thought of him in the manger, worshipped by the shepherds and the Magi, we have contemplated those long years of unpretentious work in Nazareth; we have gone with him all through the land of Palestine, as he preached the kingdom of God to men and went about doing good to all. and later on, during the days of his passion, we have suffered on seeing him accused and ill-treated and crucified. Then, sorrow gave way to joy and light of the resurrection. What a clear and firm foundation for our faith! But perhaps, like the apostles in those days, we are still weak, and on the day of the Ascension we ask Christ: Lord will you at this time restore the Kingdom of Israel? (Acts 1:6). Is it now that we can expect all our perplexity and all our weakness to vanish forever?
Like the apostles, we remain partly perplexed and partly saddened at his departure. I am move when I think that, in an excess of love, he has remained with us, even when he has gone away. He has gone to heaven, and at the same time he gives himself to us as our nourishment in the Sacred Host…If we have leaned to contemplate the mystery of Christ, if we make an effort to see him clearly, we will realize that now we can come very near Jesus too, in body and soul. We can be with him in the Bread and in the Word, receiving the nourishment of the Eucharist and knowing and fulfilling all that he came to teach us, as we meet and deal with him in our prayer. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
These are not mere promises. They are something real. the essence of a true life, the life of grace that leads us to deal with God personally and directly. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These words Jesus said at the Last Supper are the introduction to the day of the Ascension. Christ knew that he had to go away because, in a mysterious way that we cannot fully understand, after the Ascension a new outpour of God’s love would bring the presence of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity…He sends us the Holy Spirit, who directs and sanctifies our souls.
The Ascension is a three day procession, which includes the carrying of banners and torches which symbolize Christ’s journey to the Mount of Olives and entry into heaven. The church has received permission from the Vatican to celebrate the Ascension on Sunday instead of Holy Thursday.
This Sunday, May 21st will be “The Ascension of the Lord” and a Holy day of Obligation!