Thursday, May 17, 2007

17/05/07 Feast of the Ascension


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 8, 47; PM Psalm 24, 96
Ezek. 1:1-14,24-28b; Heb. 2:5-18; Matt. 28:16-20

From Forward Day by Day:

Acts 1:1-11. Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?

I imagine Jesus' followers spent the days after the resurrection in a mixture of joy, confusion, doubt, and wonder. With Jesus beside them, the message and the work were clear. But then the Ascension occurred. No wonder they stood looking into the sky. "What now?" they must have wondered. A vision of two angels moved them onward: "Don't just stand there; get back to life, back to what you were doing before." It is as if to say, "That is where you will find him again."

The days after the first Easter were about sending the disciples forth, assuring them the message and the work did not require Jesus' physical presence. The good news is proclaimed by passing it on and working toward its fruition. The gospel does not reside in one person, but in all who gather in Jesus' name. That was not easy for the followers close to Jesus to grasp.

And it is not always easy for us. Yet the message of the angels is ours as well. Even now Jesus dwells among us. He is found as we seek him within community and as we continue the work he commissioned us to do.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Northern Michigan
++++++++++ Reflections

In this temple of God, in this Mansion of His, He and the soul alone have fruition of each other in the deepest silence.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, III.3

Reading from the Desert Christians

Someone brought money to an old man and said, "Take this and spend it for you are old and ill", for he was a leper. The old man replied, "Are you going to take me away from the one who has cared for me for sixty years? I have been ill all that time and I have not needed anything because God has cared for me." And he would not accept it.

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Whatsoever gainsaying is for the name of Heaven will in the end be established; and that which is not for the name of Heaven will not in the end be established. What gainsaying is that which is for the name of Heaven? the gainsaying of Shammai and Hillel. And that which is not for the name of Heaven? this is the gainsaying of Qorach.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Love Will Remain

Hope and faith will both come to an end when we die. But love will remain. Love is eternal. Love comes from God and returns to God. When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love. The love with which we lived our lives is the life of God within us. It is the divine, indestructible core of our being. This love not only will remain but will also bear fruit from generation to generation.

When we approach our deaths let us say to those we leave behind, "Don't let your heart be troubled. The love of God that dwells in my heart will come to you and offer you consolation and comfort."

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

GOD, WHO ENFOLDS our little lives at each end, whose grace sustains us, whose felt presence is so sweet that life without it feels dry as dust, is a God of new beginnings. The God who is at once Alpha and Omega is so not only in the sense of being the source and end of our creation. We experience God’s abundant, exuberant creativity whenever newness breaks through into our dust-drenched days. The in-breaking of freshness is structured into the very fabric of our world. We are invited into its tender promise, its rising hope, its renewed possibility with each dawn.

- Wendy M. Wright
The Time Between

From pages 32-33 of The Time Between by Wendy M. Wright. Copyright © 1999 by Wendy M. Wright.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Jesus Is Lord"

"Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God." (Luke 24:50-52, JB) Some of us have gone through twelve years of religious education and have never heard the lordship of Jesus Christ proclaimed. We don't even know what it means when we say, "Jesus is Lord." Yet the lordship of Jesus Christ was the first creed of the Church. It is mythically symbolized by Jesus "standing on the clouds of heaven." The Ascension might be called the feast of the lordship of Christ. We don't experience God's power, God's lordship, unless we allow God to be first. I call it the radical first-ness of God. God is by definition not your God unless that God has primacy of place. No one else may be first in your life. You husband, your wife, your children, your job have no right to be first. Fortunately, God is willing to wait! Where does your heart usually go when it is free? Wherever it goes, that is your momentary God. How you use your time and your money are probably the most honest revelations of your real gods. The God who is in fact God waits like a patient but jealous lover. God's lordship is not dominating but enticing and seductive, and ever so patient.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

Do not love to be honored above others

Christ is called master, or teacher, by right of nature rather than by courtesy, for all things subsist through him. Through his incarnation and life upon earth we are taught the way to eternal life. Our reconciliation with God is dependent on the fact of his being greater than we are. Yet, having told his disciples not to allow themselves to be called master, or to love seats of honor and things of that kind, he himself set an example and was a model of humility. It is as though he said: Even as I do not seek my own glory, so neither must you love to be honored above others, or to be called master. Look at me: The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life for many.

This was said not only for the instruction of his disciples, but also of those who are teachers in the Church. None of them must seek positions of honor; whoever wishes to be greater than the rest must first become the servant of all, as Christ himself did. If anyone wants a high office let him want the labor it entails, not the honor it will bring him. He should desire to serve and minister to everyone, and not expect everyone to serve and minister to him. For the desire to be served comes from the supercilious attitude of the Pharisees; the desire to serve from the teaching of Christ.

Paschasius Radbertus, (785 - 860) was a prolific writer and is well noted for the part he played in establishing the Catholic doctrine on the eucharist.

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." Luke 24:51

We have no corresponding experience to the events in Our Lord's life after the Transfiguration. From then onwards Our Lord's life' was altogether vicarious. Up to the time of the Transfiguration He had exhibited the normal perfect life of a man; from the Transfiguration onwards - Gethsemane, the Cross, the Resurrection - everything is unfamiliar to us. His Cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any man, and by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity.

On the Mount of Ascension the Transfiguration is completed. If Jesus had gone to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone; He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the Mount to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The Ascension is the consummation of the Transfiguration. Our Lord does now go back into His primal glory; but He does not go back simply as Son of God; He goes back to God as Son of Man as well as Son of God. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man. As Son of Man Jesus Christ deliberately limited omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience in Himself. Now they are His in absolute full power. As Son of Man Jesus Christ has all power at the throne of God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords from the day of His Ascension until now.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day

KEEPING to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.


An African proverb says: "You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla." Experience counts. Wisdom is simply its distillation. Abbots may be abbots and prioresses may be prioresses but the community was there long before them and the community will remain long after they have gone, as well. To ignore the counsel of a group, then, is to proceed at risk.

But Benedict knows about more than the value of experience. Benedict knows about the presence and power of God. And Benedict knows that there is a spark of the divine in all of us. The function of an abbot or prioress, of leaders and spouses everywhere, is not so much to know the Truth as it is to be able to espy it and to recognize it in the other when they hear it. Calling the community for counsel is Benedict's contribution to the Theology of the Holy Spirit.

In the monastic community, this common search for truth is pitched at a delicate balance. The abbot and prioress are clearly not dictators but the community is not a voting bloc either. They are each to speak their truth, to share the perspective from which they see a situation, to raise their questions and to open their hearts, with honesty and with trust. The prioress and abbot are to listen carefully for what they could not find in their own souls and to make a decision only when they can come to peace with it, weighing both the community's concerns and the heart they have for carrying the decision through.

"Foresight and fairness" are essentials for leaders who lead out of a sense of Benedictine spirituality. The decision is all theirs and they will answer for it in conscience and in consequences. They must not make it lightly and they must take all of its effects into consideration. The emphasis in this paragraph is clearly on results rather than on power. It is easy to gain power. It is difficult to use it without being seduced by it. The Rule of Benedict reminds us that whatever authority we hold, we hold it for the good of the entire group, not for our own sense of self.


The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Flesh
Thursday, May 17, 2007
3rd Vespers Ascension: Zechariah 14:1, 4, 8-11
Apostle: Acts 1:1-12 Gospel: St. Luke 24:36-53

He Shall Come Again: Zechariah 14:1, 4, 8-11, especially vs. 9: "And the
Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be
one and His Name one." The Ascension of our Lord Jesus begins the age
of the Church, the present era that shall continue until again "His feet
shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the
east...." (vs. 4). Then, the Lord will be "King over all the earth," as
the only Lord Whose Name shall be acknowledged by all peoples (vs. 9),
and "every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him" (Rev. 1:7).

The two Angels who appeared to the Apostles, as the Lord "was taken
up....out of their sight" (Acts 1:9), revealed that "this same Jesus,
who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as
you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). The Prophet Zechariah, around
the turn of the fifth Century BC, discloses what shall take place until
that day and on that day, when "there shall be no more curse," and the
Holy Church - the true Jerusalem - "shall dwell in security" (Zech.
14:11) protected under the Lord Jesus' gracious reign.

When the Prophet speaks of "spoil" (vs. 1), he employs an image of
valuables or treasures seized as plunder by the victors of wars. What,
however, is the Spoil, the great treasure that is taken from us in this
life? It is our hearts and souls and our very life and breath. The
priceless gift of life itself is taken from all by death, for mortality
reigns over all today. We are handed over to death as a result of sin
that separates us from God the life-Giver. Ah, but when the Lord of
glory comes, He will portion out true life to us, eternal life, Life
without separation from God. We will share in the spoil of His victory
and receive that which death takes from us. When the Lord comes "there
shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security" (vs. 11).

As He ascended from the Mount of Olives, so in Zechariah's vision, the
Lord will come again to stand on the same Mount. He pictures Olivet
split in two, with a great valley pushing through it on an East-West
axis, allowing "living waters [to] flow out from Jerusalem" to all the
earth, to the seas East and West (vss. 4,8). The truth of the vision is
far advanced through tangible history. The Living Waters of the Church
now have flowed out from its Apostolic beginnings in Jerusalem to every
continent across the whole face of the globe. Barren cultures filled
with death and bitterness have been introduced to the Gospel. The dead
are quickened, receiving life. They are flourishing, whereas before,
all was desert, superstition, and death.

May God grant us eyes to see that, despite times of terrible repression
and the killing of men's bodies and souls, the Church, the Life-bearing
water, continues to flow and is not stifled nor restricted by the most
systematic efforts of nations, empires, and tyrannies. As the Prophet
Zechariah foresaw, the advance of life "shall continue in [the] summer
as in [the] winter" of men's efforts to stop the water of life from
reaching the great sea of humanity (vs. 8).

Today, the earth is being converted, from North to South, into a
fruitful plain fed by the life-bearing water of the Gospel, flowing from
true Jerusalem, the Church. When Zechariah speaks of Geba and Rimmon
(vs. 10), he uses these cities as reference points - markers of the
northern and southern extremes of the land known to his readers in the
sixth century before Christ. Modern technology provides us with a
larger geographic vision. The Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
of the Lord Jesus illumine our hearts and minds to see the point the
Prophet sought to proclaim: "Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site"
(vs. 10), with Jesus Christ as its corner stone, even as it is being
"inhabited" (vs. 11) by new members and life.

God hath ascended in songs of rejoicing. Save us, O Son of God, Who
didst rise from us in glory to the heavens, as we sing unto Thee. Alleluia!


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