Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. This commemorates the true historical event when Jesus of Nazareth, who had died on the cross and risen from the dead, ascended by His own power in His human body into heaven, where he is now present, bodily, in eternity. The importance of the mystery of the Ascension is often overlooked or forgotten by Christians, but it must not be, since it is critical to our understanding of Christ and ourselves. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes:
665 Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever.
667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Christ‟s Ascension into heaven also reminds us that the human body is not a useless thing to be thrown away, some machine our souls sort of drive around in until we go to heaven. The body is part of who we are, the part that reveals and communicates ourselves to others, and vice versa: we speak, hear and act in the body. In this reality we discover that the body is essentially about love: we communicate with others in order to enter and strengthen our love with and for each other. But at the same time we discover that communicating hatred or disrespect through our bodies, or simply using our (or others‟) bodies as mere objects or toys for amusement, runs dramatically contrary to love and to the dignity of the human person.
Moreover, the Bodily Ascension reveals to us that even in heaven Our Lord remains both man and God, united with us and His Father, and so uniting us to His Father. And He reminds us that the things we do through, with and in our bodies have eternal effects—either leading us to heaven with Him, or to hell without Him.
Seniors Over the next few weeks, many of our teenagers will be graduating from high school. It is a noteworthy and important milestone and achievement in their lives, and we congratulate them and join them in celebrating. But as the ceremony for graduation usually indicates, it is not merely an ending, but a “commencement”—a new beginning of a new stage of their lives. May I be so bold as to offer some quick advice as they make this commencement? Or rather, may I simply point out the Lord‟s advice?
“What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Matthew 16:26).
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11).
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
“So Jesus said to them, „Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;…For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6: 53-55).
“And he said to him, „You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-40).
“One came up to him, saying, „Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?‟ And he said to him, ….„If you would enter life, keep the commandments.‟ He said to him, „Which?‟ And Jesus said, „You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother…” (Matthew 19: 16-19).
“With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27). And finally:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And
￼behold, I am with you always, until the end of time” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
Oh, wait, one last thing:
“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother,
„Woman, behold, your son!‟ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!‟” (John 19: 26-27).
New Priest in the Parish Fr. John Lovell, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, will be staying with us for the month of June while he is taking a class in Washington. Thanks be to God, he will also be returning to us in late August to take up a 2-year residency while he pursues full-time theological studies at the Dominican House of Studies. Now, many of the student-priests that have stayed with us in the past have had sort of a “work-study” arrangement: they worked in the parish to earn money to pay for tuition. That is not the arrangement we have with Fr. Lovell: his diocese will be paying his tuition and his room and board, with the understanding that he will offer his priestly service to us as often as his school schedule allows. In short, his availability to help will be substantially less than was, for example, Fr. Peter Odhiambo. Even so, I am very glad to have him with us and grateful for his help.
By way of background, Father is an alumnus of Mt. St. Mary‟s Seminary, Class of 2007, where he was a student of Fr. Pilon. In the last four years, he has served the Diocese of Rockford as a parochial vicar, high school teacher and Associate Director of Vocations. Please join me in welcoming Father to our parish.
Confirmation Congratulations to the 90 young parishioners who received the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation this last Wednesday under the hands of Bishop Loverde. Let us keep them in prayer that they may always recognize, cherish and cooperate with the great gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His sevenfold gifts that they have received.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles