On the Reasons Why Our Lord Ascended into Heaven.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Reasons Why Our Lord Ascended into Heaven.
Ponder, my soul, on the sublimity of that moment when our Lord was about to ascend into Heaven; to leave the earth to which He had come down three and thirty years previously, the earth which He had illuminated with the light of faith, and which He had redeemed with His precious blood. Now, at the close of His earthly career, how grand, how glorious was that which awaited Him!
1st. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven for the purpose of giving an account to His heavenly Father of the great work He had accomplished upon earth. “Father, I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now glorify Thou Me, Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with Thee.” (St. John xvii. 4, 5.) Thus our Lord spoke after the Last Supper, and with the same beautiful words upon His lips He will enter the presence of His Father. How well pleasing may we conclude this to have been to the heavenly Father! how great must have been the satisfaction He manifested in His Son and in the work that Son had accomplished! On your part, my soul, propose to yourself this question: If now, if this very day you were summoned to appear before your Father in Heaven to give an account of your life on earth, could you also say in our Lord’s words: “Father, I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do”?
2d. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven for the purpose of receiving, in His character of God-man, the recompense of all He had done and merited upon earth. In Heaven He was to be raised above all because on earth He had abased Himself below all; there, instead of being stretched on the cross of shame, He was to sit down upon the throne of divine majesty; there, instead of being placed between two thieves, He was to be surrounded by countless hosts of angels; there, instead of the scorn and mockery of men, His ears would be greeted by hosannas from the voices of thousands of cherubim and seraphim, and His name, nailed in ignominy to the wood of the cross, was there to be proclaimed as the “name which is above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Phil. ii. 9-10.) Rejoice, my soul, with all your heart at the glory into which your Redeemer enters; but also rejoice at the shame, the abjection, the sufferings and tribulations which you endure here below; for the greater the afflictions you have to bear in this world, the greater the happiness and glory which, like our Lord, you may anticipate as your portion hereafter.
3d. Consider that our Lord ascends into Heaven in order to take His place on the throne at God’s right hand; thus to enter into the possession of the kingdom His Father gives to Him, to exercise supreme dominion in Heaven and on earth. Reflect how He, as King of Heaven, will appoint their various thrones to the souls whom He brought out of Limbo and who will accompany Him into His kingdom; He will apportion to each one his fitting place; to the patriarchs, to the prophets, to John His precursor, to His foster-father Joseph, a seat in Heaven will be assigned. Think moreover how the celestial choirs, the thrones and principalities, the virtues and powers will all come forward to pay homage to their new King, and all will prepare to hold high festival in Heaven with such rejoicings as were never before known since the world was created. And when you have fully impressed on your mind all that you have thus contemplated in imagination, reflect that it lies within your reach, it only rests with you to become yourself a denizen of that celestial kingdom, a happy subject of the heavenly King who sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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