The Solemnity of The Ascension of The Lord

June 1, 2019 Column Father De Celles

Pro-Life Victory. Last week the Supreme Court issued a brief ruling upholding Indiana’s law that requires the remains of aborted babies to be interred or cremated separately from medical waste. Though a small victory, it is a pro-life victory in that it defends the state’s right to recognize the remains of the abortion as not “waste” but the remains of a human being. The ruling was per curiam (an unsigned opinion of the majority, without revealing who voted for or against).
However, some argue there was also a pro-life loss in the opinion, as the court simultaneously refused to rule (“expresses no view on the merits”) on a second part of the Indiana law which barred “the knowing provision of sex-, race-, or disability-selective abortions by abortion providers.” The Court stated: “Only the Seventh Circuit has thus far addressed this kind of law. We follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional Courts of Appeals.”
I do not consider that a loss, but rather perhaps a necessary strategic.
Consider what Justice Thomas wrote in his instructive concurring opinion: “The Court’s decision to allow further percolation should not be interpreted as agreement with the decisions below [of the Circuit Court]. Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement. In other contexts, the Court has been zealous in vindicating the rights of people even potentially subjected to race, sex, and disability discrimination…Although the Court declines to wade into these issues today, we cannot avoid them forever. Having created the constitutional right to an abortion, this Court is dutybound to address its scope. In that regard, it is easy to understand why the District Court and the Seventh Circuit looked to Casey to resolve a question it did not address. Where else could they turn? The Constitution itself is silent on abortion.”
No loss here. Just groundwork for future victories.

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 to easily 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.

Novena to the Holy Spirit. 2000 years ago the Lord ascended into heaven on a Thursday, so that immediately after that first Ascension Thursday the apostles and the other disciples, with the Blessed Mother, began to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. For nine days they prayed, and on the tenth day, Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descend on them in a dramatic display of divine power. Those nine days of prayer are the origin of the pious Catholic custom of praying of novenas (from “novem,” Latin for “nine”) for particular intentions.
The celebration of the Ascension on Sunday complicates the idea of a “Pentecost Novena.” Even so, I invite you to join me in praying a slightly shortened novena to the Holy Spirit. There are many different forms of praying Pentecost novenas, so to keep it simple, I propose the following. First, form a particular intention for each day:
Sun.: That St. Raymond’s priests and parishioners may more actively exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received.
Mon.: That the Holy Spirit may grant me an increase in His gift of wisdom.
Tues.: …His gift of understanding.
Weds.: …His gift of counsel.
Thurs.: …His gift of fortitude.
Fri.: …His gift of knowledge.
Sat.: …His gift of piety.
Sun.: …His gift of reverence, or fear of the Lord.

And then, in union with the Blessed Mother say this prayer each day:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit that we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Welcome Home, College Students. I want to extend my most sincere congratulations to all of our parishioners who are graduating from college/university this month. We’re all proud of you, and pray for you as you move on to the new challenges that await you.
I also want to welcome home all of the college students coming home for the summer. I look forward to seeing you around the church. Please keep your eye on the bulletin for various opportunities available to deepen your faith life over the summer, as well as social opportunities that will come up here in the parish and at nearby parishes.

Anniversary Thanks. On behalf of myself and Fathers Smith, Daly and Scalia I’d like to thank all of you who sent cards and gifts to us celebrating our anniversaries of ordination. They were not at all necessary, but still deeply appreciated.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles