On the Exceeding Great Joy which Our Lord’s Ascension Caused.
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 Exceeding Great Joy which Our Lord’s Ascension Caused.
To-day recall once more to your mind and represent to yourself the awful sadness, anguish, and sorrow which once overwhelmed our oppressed Lord and His disciples on the Mount of Olives. In commencing your meditation immerse yourself once more in that ocean of bitterness, transport yourself in imagination to Mount Olivet and review the sad events of that mournful, gloomy night on which our Lord’s Passion began, in order that by contrast you may be enabled to recognize more clearly and appreciate more fully the sweetness of the joy wherewith the hearts of all overflowed who were present on the Mount of Olives on the occasion of our Lord’s Ascension.
1st. Consider the happiness, the joy of the just souls who went up into Heaven with our Lord. How gladly they must have quitted the prison where they had been detained for a thousand years! how their joy must have increased in degree and become exultant rapture as they drew nearer and nearer to their celestial habitation, and all its brilliance and beauty burst on their delighted sight! Theirs was the joy of the exile who after long years of weary banishment returns to his beloved country and the parental roof, endeared to him by fond reminiscences. Then the words of the Royal Prophet were truly fulfilled, words which those happy souls might well make their own: “God is ascended with jubilee and the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to our King, sing ye, for He hath chosen for us His inheritance.” (Ps. xlvi. 6.) Join in spirit that jubilant company of just souls, in order that you may on this day partake in some measure of the joy and consolation that was their portion.
2d. Consider the joy of the holy angels. Without doubt these celestial spirits in countless hosts accompanied their King rejoicing and exultant, magnifying with wondrous songs of praise His triumphant, victorious entry into Heaven. And when the glorious cortege approached the celestial portals, may we not fancy them shouting in the prophetic words of the Psalmist: “Lift up your gates, ye princes, and be ye lifted up, eternal gates, and the King of glory shall enter in.” And those who were within answered, they too re-echoing David’s words: “Who is this King of glory who seeks to enter our gates?” And the angelic escort are heard to reply: “The Lord who is strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle; the Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Ps. xxiii. 7, 10.) Thus the Lord entered the Heaven He had left, while the celestial choirs sang a new canticle: “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and benediction for ever.” (Ap. v. 12.) This entry into the heavenly Jerusalem was very different, far more solemn and sublime than our Lord’s triumphal entry into the earthly Jerusalem, and His triumph was not shortlived, as it was then, but for all eternity.
3d. Consider the joy which the God-man Himself experienced on the occasion of His Ascension. When He entered into the earthly Jerusalem He wept over the ill-fated city, but now on His returning to the heavenly Sion, the prophecy of David that He would ascend with jubilee and shouts of exultation was strictly fulfilled. May one not imagine the Saviour saying with holy delight to the choirs of celestial spirits: “Rejoice with Me, for I have found the sheep that was lost. Rejoice with Me because the groat that was lost is found again, the unhappy human race has been redeemed.” His was the joy of the good shepherd who has recovered the wandering sheep; the joy of the laborer in the vineyard who receives the wage for which he has worked, the joy of the faithful servant who has gained ten talents. Do you, my soul, share in this joy of your Lord? What are in general the feelings you experience in contemplating joys so transcendental, in meditating upon subjects which raise the mind far above this earth? “Dost thou perceive,” we quote the beautiful words of the Imitation, “a yearning after eternal bliss poured into thee from above, and that thou longest to go out from the tabernacle of the body that thou mayst behold the glory of God without any shadow of change?” or does all this leave you cold and unconcerned, do you still cleave to the pavement of earth? Ask yourself this question, and ponder this other saying of the same writer: “If I love Heaven, I willingly think on heavenly things. If I love the world, I rejoice with the prosperity of the world. If I love the flesh, I often picture to myself carnal things. If I love the spirit, I delight to think of spiritual things” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 49, 48.)
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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