St Gregory the Great on the Ascension of Our Lord
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received men in gifts. (Ps 67:19).
Ascending on high He has truly led captivity captive; for our mortality is swallowed up by the power of His immortality. Now He has given gifts to men, for, sending down His Spirit from above, to one He has given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another the gift of miracles, to another the grace of healing, to another diverse kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of speeches (I Cor 12:8). He has therefore given gifts to men.
And by the mouth of Solomon was it said also of the Church: Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills (Canticles 2:8). For in coming to the task of our redemption He made, if I may so speak, certain leaps. From heaven He came down to a womb; from the womb to a crib; from the crib to the cross; from the cross to a tomb; from the tomb He returned to Heaven. Behold how the Truth, made known in the flesh that He might induce us to run after Him, made for us certain leaps: For he rejoiced as a giant to run the way (Psalm 18:6), that we from our hearts may cry out to Him: Draw us after Thee; we will run after thee to the odour of Thy ointments (Canticles 1:3).
And for this, dearest brethren, we must follow Him in our hearts where we believe He has ascended in His Body. Let us turn away from earthly longings; nothing here below can now delight us whose Father is in Heaven… for even though your soul still drifts amid the distractions of this world’s affairs, nevertheless, from now on make fast to your eternal home the anchor of your hope, and fix the course of your soul by that True Light.
Lo! We have heard that the Lord has ascended into Heaven. Let us then observe in work what we truly believe. And though still held back in the weakness of our body, let us yet follow Him with the footsteps of love.
And He Who gave us this love will not be indifferent to it, Jesus Christ Our Lord Who lives and reigns with God in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
The celebrated French Dominican preacher, Fr Jacques-Marie Louis Monsabre, O.P., encourages us to meditate upon this mystery by lifting our minds and hearts up to Heaven where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us.
Let us with them raise our hearts to heaven. Sursum corda! If Jesus leaves us, He does not forget us, nor does He abandon us to our exile without hope. His going is not to put an immense distance between His glory and our misery; it is to prepare a place for us: I go to prepare a place for you.’ (John 14:2) This is His promise; can we suppose He will not keep it?
O Jesus, our only love! we have need of hearing this good word fall from Thy adorable lips to console us in Thy absence. Thou goest to prepare a place for us; is this world, therefore, not our most suitable home? Ah! no. It is too full of troubles to give that joy to the heart to which it aspires; it is too narrow to satiate the immensity of our desires; it is too uncertain to give us any assurance of eternal possession, the idea of which is inseparable from all our dreams of happiness. The eternal life of God, His infinite perfections, the perfect love of God, the boundless space which His immensity fills – this is the ‘length and breadth and depth‘ of which Saint Paul speaks; this is the place to which we should direct our course and in which we should anchor our barque of life, the place which Jesus went to prepare for us.
In other news, construction on the extension to the Refectory and the new library has begun. The deck has been demolished, and the ground laid with a new layer of dirt.