Sunday, May 20, is Ascension Sunday in most of the United States. The Archdioceses of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and the dioceses of the state of Nebraska all celebrate Ascension Thursday (May 17), as does Rome.
The time between the Ascension and Pentecost is traditionally a time to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Click here for a great novena EWTN offers for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Day 1: The novena begins.
Day 2: The gift of fear of the Lord, or reverence for God and distaste for sin.
Day 3: The gift of piety, consolation from spiritual things.
Day 4: The gift of fortitude, courage to do the right thing.
Day 5: the gift of knowledge, to see things as they are in relation to God.
Day 6: the gift of understanding, the insights we receive from God.
Day 7: The gift of counsel, the ability to judge what is right.
Day 8: the gift of wisdom, relishing what is true, beautiful and good.
Day 9: The novena ends.
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3, 6-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20
The Ascension can seem like the strangest event in the life of Christ. Great pieces of Ascension art in Europe often picture a pair of feet at the top of a picture with astonished apostles looking up at the floating figure of Christ.
But if you think it through, the Ascension is not so strange at all. Here are our Top 10 reasons for the Ascension.
10. If Jesus remained on earth, we would probably all go on pilgrimage to see him in his bodily form at least once in our lives. It would become a great story, like a papal encounter. But we wouldn’t meet him daily.
9. In the incarnation, Jesus showed that God could dwell and walk with us. In the Ascension, he showed that we could dwell and walk with God.
8. If Christ had stayed on earth, we would have waited for him to pronounce on every little thing that happened. After the Ascension, we have to conform our minds to his.
7. Jesus said, “All authority has been given me on heaven and earth.” That he then disappeared into the sky makes that claim all the more powerful. If he were sitting in a room somewhere right now, it would be harder to accept.
6. The dramatic departure of Jesus is a great way to make the point that he will one day dramatically return. We need to be ready.
5. If Jesus was in a particular place, he would be closer to some people than others. At the right hand of God, he is equally close to each of us.
4. Jesus left us, ascending to the Father, so we could be sent out on our own: We need to live the lives we were given for Christ.
3. If Jesus were in a particular place, he could be our head, but not so much the head of the mystical body. He wanted us to be his hands, feet and voice in the world.
2. Without the Ascension, the Eucharist would not make sense. When he broke bread at Emmaus, he disappeared, leaving only his Eucharistic presence. That is how he is with us.
1. Why is it a good thing Jesus ascended? So that we would receive power from the Holy Spirit and be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.