Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension - 20 May AD 2012

Our Lady Queen of the Apostles

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

    We don't know a great deal about what the Apostles did after our Lord's ascension into heaven.  The scriptures contain only a few details:  Our Lord had instructed them not to leave Jerusalem;  they returned to the upper room with various disciples and our Blessed Lady;  they appointed a men named Matthias to be the successor of Judas as an apostle;  and “with one mind continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.”[1]

    The Apostles were awaiting the arrival of the Holy Ghost, the Advocate our Lord had promised to them before His ascension.  We might say that they were making a ten day retreat before their Confirmation.  We might also say that they were hiding in fear—fear that without Jesus they might be in for trouble with those who had crucified Him.  Only forty-odd days had passed since the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers had seized Jesus, put Him through a mockery of a trial, and nailed Him to the Cross like a common criminal.  None of the apostles had any illusions;  they knew that the Sanhedrin was perfectly capable of acting again, and, if they did, that it was unlikely that their next victim would rise from the dead three days later.

    So they “continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary.”  Praying with Mary is always a good idea when times are frenzied.  And the scripture tells us that after ten days, “when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close,” the Holy Ghost came upon them in the form of fire, and they went out into the streets to preach publicly.[2]  Those who heard them understood them even if they didn't speak the same language, and their preaching was so effective that 3000 souls were baptized that very day.

    To be sure, they did run into trouble with the Sanhedrin, and with the Romans, and with the authorities in many of the places where they took our Lord's message.  With the exception of Saint John, all of the apostles lost their lives because of their mission, and Saint John narrowly escaped being boiled alive in oil.  Clearly, they still faced the same dangers they had faced ten days ago, but the difference was that now they were not afraid.  The difference was that they had received the Holy Ghost in Confirmation, and they cooperated fully with the graces that He brought them.

    That “cooperation” is an important thing to ponder.  One can be indifferent to, or even resist the graces of the Sacraments.  Without proper preparation; putting ourselves, so to speak, “in the right frame of mind,” the graces of the Sacraments are often not as fruitful as they should be.  For example, if we come to Mass and receive Holy Communion just because everyone else does, and fail to focus on the fact that in Communion we are being united to Almighty God in a supreme act of love, we will miss out on many of the graces that would be otherwise be available to us.  That's why it is such a good idea to be early for Mass, to be able to spend some time in meditation on what is about to take place, and to recall what our part is in it.

    Unfortunately, if we have in the past received Holy Communion without paying too much attention, there isn't much we can do except for trying to see that we are better prepared in the future.  Our Lord is physically with us for only a few minutes, until appearances of bread and wine are so changed as to be unrecognizable.

    But there are three Sacraments that are more permanent in character; Baptism, Confirmation, and the Priesthood.  Indeed, once we have received any of these Sacraments, we are marked for eternity with a special imprint on our souls.  These three Sacraments confer grace not for a few minutes, but for a lifetime.  If we have been Baptized, it is always possible to cooperate with the graces of that Sacrament to be more and more a child of God.  If we have been Confirmed, it is always possible to call upon the graces of our Confirmation to make us more and more a soldier of Christ.  Priests can call on the graces they received to be more and more another Christ.  Nothing is required beyond being in the state of grace (sacramental Confession if we have sinned seriously) and calling on God to renew and restore the fervor that we should have had in receiving each of those Sacraments; and the fervor that we should always continue to have from day to day.

    We are children of God, having been “born again of water and the Holy Ghost.”[3]   Those who have been Confirmed have been “signed with the Sign of the Cross and Confirmed with the Chrism of Salvation,”  and have become soldiers of Christ.[4]

    We may never be called upon to die for Christ as the Apostles did; we may never even have to be boiled in oil;  but we all do have a strict duty to live as children of God and not children of the devil.  As soldiers of Christ, we have a duty to know our Faith to the best of our ability, and to live our lives in accordance with it.  We may not have to preach to the multitudes or risk crucifixion, but we must preach, at least, by the good example of our lives, lived according to Christian principles.  We must know our Faith, be proud of it, and be ever ready to profess it.

    In order to do this we ought to follow the example of the apostles; of “steadfast prayer together with Mary the Mother of Jesus.”  Few of us have the luxury of a ten day retreat every year, but most of us can spare a day or two now and then.  An hour or two before the Blessed Sacrament can be so very fruitful.  And certainly five or ten minutes before Mass will help us to renew these graces in our souls, and to be prepared to receive our Lord fruitfully in Holy Communion.

    The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost.  Together they conceived the Son God.  By cooperating with them we can be children of God and soldiers of Christ; indeed we can even be other Christs and brides of Christ.  Cooperating with the grace of God and “steadfast prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus” are the only things required.






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