About the Solemnity:
The Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on the fortieth day after the Holy Feast of Easter. Since the date of Easter changes each year, the date of the Feast of the Ascension changes. This Solemnity is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday.
The Solemnity itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He ascended into heaven.
Collect of the Day:
God Our Father, make us joyful in the Ascension of Your Son Jesus Christ. May we follow Him into the new creation, for His Ascension is our glory and our hope.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 1:1-11: Why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus has been taken into Heaven.
The Second Reading: Ephesians: 1:17-23: He made Jesus to sit at His right hand in Heaven.
The Gospel: Matthew: 28:16-20: All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
Today I have decided to share with you St. Augustine’s reflection from the Office of the Readings, I found it most edifying and hope you do also.
From a sermon by Saint Augustine, Bishop
No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven.
Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.
Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.
Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty that we should at all times and in all places Gives thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, almighty everlasting God. Through Christ Our Lord, who to help our human nature did not disdain; for, by being born He gave us glory; by suffering, He conquered the Devil; by rising from the dead, He became a surety for the entrances to eternal life; and by ascending to Thee, O Father, He opened the Heavenly Gates. Amen.
O rex gloriae:
O King of Glory, Lord of Sabaoth, Thou Victor who today hast ascended above all the Heavens; leave us not orphans, but send us the Promised of the Father, the Spirit of Truth; Alleluia.