Category Archives: Easter, Ascension & Pentecost

Ascension Thursday: What is the Church’s teaching?


Ascension Gd'Arpo.jpg

What is the consistent, clear teaching of the Church, that
is, what has been taught down through the ages, about the Ascension of the Lord? What does it
mean for the Lord to “ascend” to the right hand of God the Father? Does he actually go up into the heavens? 

The Gospel
of Luke tells us that Jesus blessed his disciples and then “parted from them and
was taken up to heaven.” And the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the
disciples witnessed the Lord’s ascension. So, the Scripture relate to us that
Jesus’ ascension was a public act which we too, follow according the Father’s
will.

Let me be crystal clear about the teaching: the ascension of the Lord is
not only concerned with Christ’s humanity; the ascension of the Lord is also
about our humanity ascension to God’s right hand in glory.

You will want to read–NO, you must read and re-read Credo for Today by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) pp 90-94. It is the best of the Church’s contemporary theological reflections on this point of our faith.

Pope Saint Leo 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” (from a homily on 1 June 444).

And just a year later Saint Leo says, “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” (from a homily on 17 May
445).

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read, “This final stage stays
closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the
Incarnation. Only the one who ‘came from the Father’ can return to the Father:
Christ Jesus. ‘No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from
heaven, the Son of man.’ Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have
access to the ‘Father’s house’, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can
open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too
shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us” (661).

Knowing Christ not according to flesh alone, but in spirit

This is the day which the Lord has made, let us exult and rejoice in it. Let us exult in the hope it brings, that we may see and rejoice in its light. Abraham exults that he might see the day of Christ and by this token he saw and rejoiced.

You too, if you keep watch daily at the doors of wisdom, steadfast at its threshold, if you stay awake through the night with Magdalen at the entrance of his tomb, if I am not mistaken you will experience with Mary how true are the words we read of the Wisdom which is Christ:

She is easily seen by those who love her and she is found by those who seek her. She anticipates those who desire her and shows herself to them first. He who, as soon as it is light keeps watch for her will not have to toil, for he will find her seated at his doors. (Wis. 6:13ff)

So did Christ, Wisdom himself, promise in the words: I love those who love me, and they who from early morning keep watch for me will find me. (Prov. 8:17) Mary found Jesus in the flesh. For this she was keeping watch. Over his tomb she had come to mount guard while it was still dark.

You, who no longer ought to know Jesus according to the flesh but according to the spirit, will be able to find him spiritually if you seek him with a like desire, if he finds you likewise vigilant in prayer.

Guerric of Igny
Liturgical Sermons
Third sermon for Easter

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy.jpeg

In every age the Lord wants his mercy to be known to us. Over time you have no doubt noticed the Lord revealing Himself through the works of various saints: Saints Gertrude, Mechtilde, Margaret Mary Alocoque, Claude la Colmbiere, Fautina, and Blessed Francisco de los Hoyos. Most often the call to recognize divine Mercy has come in the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which we ordinarily devote the month of June to. Today is the fruit of Saint Faustina’s mission to make known Jesus’ invitation to enter into His heart.

Today is dedicated to Divine Mercy, as recommended by Pope John Paul II based on the visions of Saint Faustina. As you might know in Memory and Identity by John Paul spoke of mercy as the limit of sin. Why not give yourself over to the work of divine mercy?
Divine Mercy Sunday is a day in which we recognize God’s looking with pity on our nothingness. Saint Faustina told us of her certainty based on your vision of the Lord that there is a certain promise from the Lord connected with this festal observance: the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment of the person who receives Holy Communion in a state of grace (that is, the person who has made a good confession). Here God promises to be merciful in giving his divine justice. Jesus is eager to love us. It is a promise of a restoration of one’s friendship with God.
I highly recommend you spend some time in prayer, if possible, at 3 pm, using the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
These graces of mercy are not limited today alone. You can receive them anytime you want … if you are open to receiving them.

Low Sunday or Quasimodo Sunday or Dominica in albis depositis

The Second Sunday of Easter has many names, as noted
in the title of this post. In some places the theme of mercy is recognized drawing us into the Lord’s bountiful mercy: John Paul II recommended the title of Divine Mercy Sunday for this day, too. The most accurate title, however, for today, is “Quasimodo
Sunday” taken from the first two words of the entrance Antiphon at Mass
that speak especially to those baptized at the Easter Vigil: Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo
crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus
. (As newborn babes,
alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice to God our helper. Sing aloud to the God of Jacob (1 Peter 2:2).)


Sts Andrew & Thomas GLBernini.jpg

This
second Sunday following Easter is the day on which the newly baptized
officially put away their white robes, it is therefore known liturgically as
“Dominica in albis depositis” or the “Sunday of putting away the
albs.”

Today we also hear John 20: 19-31 proclaimed which focuses our
attention on the doubts of Saint Thomas at hearing the news of the risen
Christ.

In his book, The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger writes, “Our
risen Jesus gave an additional proof that he wished the Sunday to be,
henceforth, the privileged day. He reserved the second visit he intended to pay
to all his disciples for this the eighth day since his Resurrection. During the
previous days, he has left Thomas a prey to doubt; but to-day he shows himself
to this Apostle, as well as to the others, and obliges him, by irresistible
evidence, to lay aside his incredulity. Thus does our Saviour again honour the
Sunday. The Holy Ghost will come down from heaven upon this same day of the
week, making it the commencement of the Christian Church: Pentecost will
complete the glory of this favoured day.”

The newly baptized, the new lambs: Isti sunt Agni novelli


B16 baptizes Easter 2010.jpgThese are the
lambs, newly-baptized,

who proclaimed the
glad tidings:  Alleluia! recently come to
the waters, and full of God’s
light and splendor. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Lady, Queen, whom
grace from heaven, Has preferred to
all on earth, Now renewed, the
world is brightened, By your holy
virgin-birth.

Oh, how lovely and
how wondrous, Is the cure that
saved us all: Jesus, in His love,
becomes now, Victim for His people’s
fall!

Now renewed through
holy washing, In the font of our
rebirth, Soon the chrism’s
oil and fragrance, Will give strength
to us on earth!

To each Christian
now is given, Christ’s own Flesh
as Bread of Life. Christ’s own Blood
becomes the sweetest, Source of joy in all our strife!


Easter week brings so many joys, graces and consolations. One such joy, grace and consolation that I’ve been thinking and praying about all week during Mass and praying the Divine Office, is the is new life in Christ that those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday. The gift of salvation given to us is has once again been given to other called not by human concern but by the Holy Spirit. The Neophytes –the newly-initiated Christians who were baptized and confirmed and communicated– live differently now that the doors of our God-given destiny has been received. Musically we can think of the chant text given above, “Isti sunt Agni novelli,” taken from the Cistercian collection Laudes Vespertine (Westmalle, Belgium, 1939) which gives a keen insight into this beautiful mystery of faith. May Christ shower His blessing on all of us!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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