Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
The Ascension of the Lord. In most of the world this feast was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation last Thursday, 40 days after Easter as the Gospels record. But our Bishop and the Bishops of the neighboring Dioceses think it best to move it to Sunday so that all Catholics are better able easily to celebrate this very important feast.
And this is a very important feast, in as much as it celebrates the fact that Jesus ascended, body and soul, into heaven, and now dwells in heaven as a bodily person. This reminds us that God the Son came into the world “like us in all things but sin” –of the reality of His bodily incarnation, birth, death and resurrection–and redeemed us entirely, body and soul. Moreover, it is a pledge to us of the resurrection of our bodies on the last day, and the transformation of the physical world into a glorious, “new heavens and a new earth.”
This in turn leads us to remember the dignity of the human body: your body is part of who you are, it is “you” as much as your soul is “you.” Your body is you speaking and communicating yourself to other bodily persons. As such, the body itself has meaning and speaks to others of this meaning. This is an important truth to keep in mind these days, as many try to degrade the body and treat it as an accidental part of who we are. The body and bodily acts mean nothing but what you want them to mean, and so you can use or abuse your body and other people’s bodies any way you like or you can ignore the basic truths that a person’s body tells us about them. This has become a key argument for those who advocate and promote all sorts of mental/emotional/behavioral problems, including pornography, homosexuality, “transgenderism” and “transsexualism.”
But that is contrary to common sense, the natural law (the way things clearly are designed to be) and divine revelation. And it is totally opposed to the dignity of the human body, which is so beautifully revealed to us in the mystery of the Ascension of the Lord: that the body communicates who we are and is so wonderful—so meaningful—that it is created to live in glory forever in heaven.
Mother’s Day. I’m sure you Moms haven’t minded me placing the Lord’s feast first in this column—I’m “sure” because that’s how good Catholic Moms are: always placing others first—especially the Lord. And that’s why we love and revere Moms, and motherhood, so much. As I spoke above of the meaning and dignity of the body, motherhood is yet another expression of this meaning. What a miraculous gift and blessing—to mothers, husbands, children and to all society—is the motherly love expressed so tenderly and yet powerfully through a mother’s bodily acts: carrying a baby in her womb for 9 months, the sacrificial pangs of childbirth, nursing her baby at her breast, holding her child in her arms, kissing the scraped knee, the smile that makes everything better, or the tears of compassion or pride. Thank the Good Lord for the gift of mothers!
But the strange forces at work in our society today to degrade the body and undermine its meaning are also attacking motherhood. Think: all the amazing things mothers’ (and really all women’s) bodies go through and are designed for that help define “womanhood” and make it so incredibly special, are all rejected by those who tell us that any man/male can just say “I’m a woman” and lay claim to all the dignity and identity of that gender. Nuts! Where are the Feminists standing up in defense of motherhood and just womanhood? But I guess they gave that up when they embraced abortion and contraception.
On this special day, and every day, may the Lord shower our mothers with graces, and may we show them the love and respect that they deserve. And let us pray for mothers who are deceased, and make them proud of us by the holy lives we lead.
First Holy Communion. Yesterday the parish celebrated the First Holy Communion of 62 of our children. What a wonderful day for them and for all of us. I’m sure you all remember your First Communion—I can remember mine like it was yesterday. Watching these children receive so reverently and with so much joy and faith should be an example to us all. As Jesus says: “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Congratulations to our First Communicants, and may the Lord Jesus always keep their faith in and love for the Eucharist as strong and alive as it is today.
Mary’s Month and the May Crowning. As we remember the Ascension of Our Lord in His Body, and the reception of that same Body by our children in Communion, let us also remember the Mother who gave Jesus that Body—His Blessed Mother, Mary. Every year the Church dedicates the month of May to renewing our devotion to and love for our Blessed Mother. So to remind us of this, and to share and encourage this devotion with our children, this afternoon (Sunday, May 8), immediately after the 12:15 Mass, we will celebrate the “May Crowning”—the symbolic crowning of the statue of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth. All are invited to join us.
Next Week: Pentecost. Remember that next week is Pentecost, the Feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church. Prepare yourself in the week ahead to celebrate this great feast—the “Birthday of the Church”—by opening your heart to the gifts of the Holy Spirit you have received in Baptism and Confirmation.
Elections. I can’t adequately express how disappointed I am that all the presidential candidates with strong histories of supporting the right to life, religious freedom, the dignity of marriage and the importance of traditional Judeo-Christian morality have been effectively eliminated from the campaign. I still can’t believe that the “conservative” party is about to nominate a man who is only a recent (and only partial) convert to the pro-life cause, has been “married” three times, refuses to repent his long history of public adultery, doesn’t seem to understand that boys are boys and girls are girls, and has made a fortune by promoting the vice of gambling (I could go on, but I won’t). Don’t get me wrong: I’m just as disappointed that the alternative in the upcoming general election will probably be a person who has a long history of radical promotion of abortion, “gay marriage,” gender-neutrality, adultery, and perjury.
I know we’re electing a president and not a pastor, but it would be best if we elected a president who had a clearer understanding of basic right and wrong, and common sense. God save us! (And He will, in His own way and time).
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles