Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Ascension Thursday--29 May AD 2014

Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

    I have often wondered what it must have been like for the Apostles when the reality of the Ascension sank into their minds.  Some of them, like Peter and Andrew, had been with Jesus since the beginning of His public life.  Matthew seems to be the last to join our Lord, but all of them spent a considerable period of time with Him.  Jesus always had the right thing to say to anyone who co fronted them—it is never Peter or John who puts the scribes or the Pharisees in their place, always Jesus.  True, Jesus had sent them out to preach in the places He intended to visit, and they appear to have been successful, even working some miracles on their own.  But, when they had reassembled, it was clearly Jesus that stood out as the leader.

    They had experienced the terrible events of Good Friday and His crucifixion, but true to form, Jesus came out on top, even in those circumstances, for already by the evening of the third day most of them had seen Him after His resurrection from the dead.  Absolutely nothing seemed to be able to stop Him!  The Scriptures recall that all of the Apostles saw Him in the next few days, and that He even appeared to some five hundred followers on one instance.[1]

    But now, a mere forty days after His resurrection, they seem to be on their own again.[2]  They had been told that they would work great miracles, and ordered to go out into the whole world to baptize those who were willing to believe.[3]   They had been promised that the Holy Ghost would soon come upon them, but quite possibly they didn't understand the significance of the Holy Ghost until He actually did visit them on Pentecost.

    One might have expected the Apostles flee in separate directions, or to return to Jerusalem in terror.  No such terror is recorded. But if we read three more verses in the Acts of the Apostles we may be able to learn the source of the strength that held them together.[4]

    We learn, first, that they returned to “an upper room.”  Quite likely this was the upper room of the Last Supper, which seems to have been the base of the Apostles’ operations during the past forty days.  Perhaps the most natural thing for them to do was to offer Holy Mass.  They had been given the power to take bread and wine, and to utter in Jesus' name His words of the Last Supper, “for this is my body ... For this is my blood ... Do this in memory of Me.”  What better way to recall His memory than to have Him truly present with them in the Holy Eucharist.  We learn in the very next chapter of The Acts that daily Mass became the normal practice within no more than a week or two.[5]  I think it was immediate!

    We also learn from those three additional verses that When the Apostles returned to the upper room “all these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”[6]  Mary the Mother of Jesus was with them in prayer.  Think about that—there probably isn't a Catholic alive who has never enjoyed the tremendous consolation of being able to pray to our Blessed Mother.  “... never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection ... was left unaided.”[7]  Imagine the grace and consolation that one would receive by praying “in one mind” with her—in the same room with her—by praying in the same room with her for over a week—the first novena to our Blessed Mother, with our Blessed Mother.

    Modernist theology would like us to believe that none of this is real!  To the modernist, the resurrection, the ascension, the Holy Ghost, the Real Presence, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin are simply not historical truths--they are but pious inventions of the faithful in the years following the crucifixion.  To the modernist, miracles are impossible, and all of these things are miraculous, so none of them could be real.  It should seem curious to us that while the modernists always deny objective reality and insist on “dialogue,” they are universally agreed on the objective unreality of miracles![8]

    But we see that something did hold the Apostles together between the time of the ascension and Pentecost.  Jesus did give them the power to offer Holy Mass.  Jesus did give His Mother to be our Mother when He entrusted her to Saint John on the Cross.  It is the virtually universal experience of Catholics over the centuries that nothing brings grace and consolation better than Mary and the Mass.

    Today is Ascension Thursday, and we have the opportunity to make the same novena as the Apostles.  As often as you can, between now and Pentecost, plan to receive Holy Communion and to engage Mary, your Mother, in prayer.



[2]   Epistle:  Acts i: 1-11

[8]   “The Resurrection cannot be a[n] historical event in the same sense as [was] the Crucifixion ...”. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,  Principles of Catholic Theology; Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, page 186.

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