The Ascension by Giotto
ASCENSION DAY 2016
Homily by Abbot Paul of Belmont Abbey, Hereford (U.K.)
The Acts of the Apostles takes over the story of the Ascension just where Luke’s Gospel leaves off. “Now as he blessed them, Jesus withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; they were continually in the Temple praising God.” But before they returned to Jerusalem, the angels asked them why they were standing there looking up into the sky. They told the disciples that Jesus, whom they had seen ascending into heaven, would come back again just as they had seen him go.
What is the meaning of the Ascension? The Gospel tells us that three things are going to happen as a result. Christ ascends into heaven and yet, (1) “Behold, I am with you until the end of time”, (2) “Not many days from now, you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit, and (3) “The Son of Man will return on the clouds of heaven”. Although Jesus has ascended to the Father, he is still here with us, in the Church, in the Sacraments, in the Scriptures, and in each one of us. He is with us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the “other Advocate, who will remind you of all that I have told you.” He will return on the Last Day to be with us again. The Ascension is the fulfilment of the prophetic name Emanuel, God-is-with-us.
Human beings think in linear time scales: past, present and future, but with God, who is eternal, there is no past or future, only the present. Eternity has no length and cannot be measured. Eternal life is living fully in the present moment, living in God. The Ascension is a breakthrough, where time enters eternity, just as at the Incarnation eternity entered time.
In the Ascension hymn we will sing at the Offertory, Charles Wesley writes: “Lord, though parted from our sight, far above yon azure height, grant our hearts may thither rise, seeking thee beyond the skies. There we shall with thee remain, partners of thine endless reign; there thy face unclouded see, find our heaven of heavens in thee.” Heaven is not a place: Heaven is a person, Jesus Christ, and eternity is God’s life, which he has graciously shared with us, his children, through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel begins with an angel announcing the Incarnation, first to Mary and then to Joseph, and a choir of angels announcing the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds. The Gospel ends with an angel announcing the Resurrection to another Mary, and with Jesus, God’s own Angel, announcing the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and with two angels announcing that Jesus will return.
What, then, does the Ascension mean to us? Jesus, Word of God and Son of the Father, who took our human flesh from the Virgin Mary and became Man, thus uniting heaven to earth, God to Man, at his Ascension took into heaven, took unto himself, our human flesh, this frail, sinful body of ours. A part of us is already at the right hand of the Father, transfigured, glorified and eternal.
The Ascension fills us all with joyful hope, because it is, of all the Church’s feasts, the feast of hope, joy and fulfilment, the feast that celebrates both a mission accomplished and a mission just beginning. When all seemed lost, Jesus rose from the dead and just when it looked as though he was leaving us for good, he tells us that he will be with us always, that he will never leave us. He promises us the gift of his own Spirit and he assures us that he will come again in glory and that all will be well, that our heaven of heavens will be truly in him.
To Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Lord, be all glory, praise and worship in time as in eternity. Amen.
THE GLORIOUS ASCENSION OF OUE LORD AND SAVIOUR
by Saint Bonaventure
TOUCHING the wonderful ascension of our Lord Jesus, it behooves thee, pious reader, to awaken thy heart, and to render thyself more than ordinarily
attentive to all that is here said or done, relating to this subject, if thou desired to feed thy soul with heavenly comfort, and reap the spiritual unction, which plentifully flows from the devout contemplation of so divine a subject.
On the fortieth day after his resurrection our Lord Jesus, knowing that his time was now come to depart
from this world, and to pass hence to his Father, taking with him the holy patriarchs, prophets, and others, who after his resurrection were in the terres
trial paradise, and blessing Enoch and Elias, who remained there still alive, he came to his apostles, who were gathered together on Mount Sion, which was the place where he made his last supper the night before his passion. There were likewise with the apostles at this place, the Blessed Virgin, and many other disciples ; and our Lord appearing to them said, that he would eat with them before he departed from
them, as a special token and memorial of the love he bore them. And as they were all eating, being full of joy and spiritual comfort at this last refection of
our Lord Jesus, he said to them, "The time is now come in which I must return again to him that sent me ; but you shall remain in the city till you are
clothed with the virtue descending from above ; for within a few days you shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, as I before promised you. After which you shall be dispersed throughout the whole world, to preach my gospel, baptizing all that shall believe in
me, so that you shall be my witnesses to the utmost confines of the earth." He likewise reproved them for their incredulity in not believing those who had seen him rise, that is the angels. This he chose to do at the time he was speaking to them of preaching his gospel, to give them to understand, that they ought to have believed the angels, even before they saw him, much sooner than they ought to be believed by those to whom they were to preach, who, nevertheless, would believe them, though they should not
see him. This he did, that by knowing their fault they might remain humble ; showing them at his departure how much he admired that virtue, and
that he ] 'commended it to them in a singular manner. They asked him concerning many things that were
to come to pass ; but he would not inform them, inasmuch as it was not necessary for them to know the secrets of God, whirh his Father had reserved
in his own power, to fulfil at his own will and pleasure. And thus they continued discoursing and eating together, with great comfort and satisfaction,
occasioned by the presence of their Lord ; yet their comfort was mixed with some grief, by reason of his departure from them. For they loved him so ten
derly, that they could not hear him speak of leaving them without heaviness and sorrow.
And what can we think of his blessed mother! May we not devoutly imagine that, sitting near him, and hearing what he said concerning his departure,
she was moved with the tenderness of her motherly affection ; and that overcome with grief, which suddenly seized, and oppressed hex blessed soul, she inclined her head towards him, and rested it upon his sacred breast ? For, if St. John the Evangelist, at the last supper, took this freedom, with much
more reason may we suppose her to do the same on this doleful occasion. Hence, then, with tears, and many sighs she spoke to him in this manner : "Oh, my beloved son, I beseech thee not to leave me ; but if thou must depart, and return again to thy heavenly Father, take me, thy afflicted mother, along with thee!" But our blessed Lord endeavored to comfort her, and said, " Grieve not, oh, beloved
parent, at my leaving you, because I go to my Father ; and it is expedient that you remain here a short time longer, to confirm in their faith, those that shall be converted, and believe in me, and after
wards I will come again, and take you with me, to be a partaker of my glory." To whom again our Lady replied, "My beloved son, may thy will always be fulfilled in all things, for I am not only contented to remain here during thy pleasure, but to suffer death for love of those souls, for which thou hast so willingly vouchsafed to lay down thy life : this, however, I beseech thee, be thou ever mindful of me." Our Lord then again comforted her, with the disciples and Mary Magdalen, saying, "Let
not your hearts be troubled, nor fear ye anything ; I will not leave you desolate ; I go, but will shortly return again to you, and will remain always with you." At length he bid them remove from thence, and go to Mount Olivet, because from that place he would ascend into heaven, in the presence of them all : saying this, he disappeared,
His holy mother, with the rest of the company, hastened to the said mount, about a mile distant from Jerusalem, as he had appointed, where our Lord again soon appeared to them. Behold on this
day we have two different apparitions of our Lord. Thus being all together, our Lord embraced his holy mother, and she again embraced him in a most tender
manner, taking leave of each other. And the disciples, Mary Magdalen, and the rest falling down to the ground, and weeping with tenderness, kissed his
blessed feet, and he, raising them up, embraced all his apostles most lovingly.
Let us now, pious reader, diligently consider them, and devoutly contemplate all that is here done : and amongst the rest, let us behold the holy Fathers, who being there present, though invisible, joyfully admire, and inwardly praise the blessed virgin, by whom they received so great a benefit as their salvation. They behold, with pleasing admiration, the glorious champions, and leaders of God's
hosts, the apostles, whom our Lord Jesus had chosen from among all others, to conquer and subdue the
world, and bring it over to the belief of his holy doctrine.
At length, when the mysteries were all fulfilled and completed, our Lord Jesus began gradually to raise himself up before them, and to ascend by his
own virtue and power into heaven. And then the Blessed Virgin, with the rest, fell down and devoutly worshipped him. And our Lady said, "O my be loved, I beseech thee to be mindful of me," and
with this she burst forth into tears, not being able to refrain, when she reflected on his departure, yet
was she full of inward joy, to see her blessed son thus gloriously ascend into heaven. His disciples also, when they beheld him ascending, said, "Thou
knowest, O Lord, that we have renounced all things for thee, wherefore, we beseech thee not to forget us, but be ever mindful of us, for whom we have forsaken all." Then our Lord lifting up his hands, with serene and pleasing aspect, crowned with
glory, victoriously ascended into heaven, but first blessing them, he said, "Be steadfast, and fight courageously, for I shall always be with you, even
to the end of the world."
Thus, our Lord Jesus, all glorious and resplendently shining, ascended into heaven, triumphantly leading with him the noble tribe of holy Fathers, and fulfilling that which the prophet Micah had said long before his ascension: "And their king shall pass before them, and the Lord at the head of them." So that they all followed him with unspeakable joy, singing canticles of praises and thanksgiving to him, for their deliverance from all sorrow, and their entrance into all joy, and never-
And Michael, the prince of God's celestial host, going before, carried the joyful tidings of their Lord's ascending, at which the whole heavenly court of celestial spirits came forth to meet their Lord, and with all worship and reverence, they led him with hymns and songs of jubilation, repeating with inexpressible joy, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alle
Having paid their due reverence to the Lord, and ended the joyful canticles, which related to his glorious ascension, the angels and the holy Fathers
began to rejoice together. And what tongue can express, or mind conceive, that which passed between them at this happy, happy meeting? The blessed spirits first began to congratulate them on their arrival, saying in this manner: "Ye princes of God's people, ye are welcome to our eternal habitation, and we rejoice and are glad at your arrival : ye all are gathered together, and wonder fully exalted with our God ; Alleluia. Therefore rejoice, and sing to him who so gloriously ascendeth to heaven, and above the heaven of heavens : Alleluia."
To which the holy Fathers again joyfully replied,
"To you, princes of God's people, Alleluia: Our guardians and helpers, Alleluia : Joy and peace for ever, Alleluia : Let us sing and make mirth to our
king and our Saviour, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Now we joyfully enter into the house of our Lord, Alleluia : to remain forever in the glorious city of God, Alleluia. As sheep of our Lord's pasture we enter his gates, Alleluia : With hymns and canticles, Alleluia : For the Lord of power is with us. Alleluia,
Alleluia, Alleluia." For according to the prophet, "The Lord is ascended in shouts of joy, and the Lord in the sound of a trumpet."
Our Lord Jesus ascended visibly for the greater comfort of his mother and disciples, that they might see him as far as they could. And behold ' ' A cloud
received him out of their sight, and in an instant they were present in heaven !" And as the Blessed Virgin and the disciples were still looking up, two angels stood beside them in white garments, who began to comfort them, telling them not to look longer after
his body, which they saw ascend so gloriously into heaven, for that they should not see him any more in
that form till the Day of Judgment, when he should come to judge the quick and the dead. They bid them return into the city again, and there to expect the coming of the Holy Ghost, as he himself had told them. Our blessed Lady spoke to the angels, desiring them to recommend her to her blessed son ; who profoundly inclining to her, promised gladly to fulfil her commands. And the apostles and Mary Magdalen recommended themselves in the same manner. After this, the angels departing, they went according
as they had been appointed in to the city, unto Mount Sion, and waited there the coming of the Holy Ghost.
Our Lord Jesus, in company with that blessed tribe of holy souls, opened the gates of Heaven, which for a long time had been shut to mankind, and as a
victorious conqueror, triumphantly entered in, and joyfully saluting his father, said, " O holy Father, I return thee thanks for the glorious victory thou hast given me over all our enemies: behold, O eternal Father, I here present to thee our friends, who till this time have been detained in banishment and in prison ! And as I have promised to my disciples and brethren, whom I have left in the world, to send them the Holy Ghost, the comforter, I beseech thee to fulfil
my promise, for to thy care and protection I recommend them." The Father raising him up, placed him on his right-hand, and said, "My blessed son, to thee all power is given in heaven and earth, wherefore concerning all thou hast asked, dispose and order as shall seem most expedient to thee."
After this the angelical spirits and holy Fathers, who remained all the time prostrate before the throne of the most adorable Trinity, arose, and with all
reverence, resumed their Alleluias and spiritual canticles, and sung joyfully to the Lord.
For if Moses and the children of Israel, after they had crossed the Red Sea, sung a song to the Lord, saying, " Let us sing to the Lord," etc., and Mary the
prophetess, Aaron's sister, and other women going out after her, sung to the Lord with timbrels, and with dances, with how much more reason should they do it now, after the victory obtained over all their enemies ? And when David brought the ark of the
Lord to Jerusalem, the whole multitude of the chil dren of Israel sung to the Lord, and David played before him, on all manner of instruments, on harps, on timbrels, on cornets, on cymbals, "and David danced before the Lord with all his might." 2 Kings , 6. With how much more reason did they now do it, when present with their Lord, in the perfect enjoyment of so great happiness ? And if St. John the Evangelist, as we read in the Apocalypse, heard a voice from heaven of a hundred and forty-four
thousand playing on their harps, and singing a new song before the throne of God and the Lamb, what
ever that might represent, I cannot but piously imagine, that it was on this day, more than on any other, fulfilled. They all sing, they all rejoice, and exult with the utmost jubilation, and with shouts of mirth they praise and glorify the Lord, so that the whole heavenly Jerusalem echoes with joyful Alleluias, and canticles of mirth were heard throughout every parti
Never from the beginning of time was there known so solemn a festivity, nor shall ever be again, till after the last and general day of judgment, when all the elect shall meet together in their beautiful and glorious bodies.
And therefore this solemn feast of the ascension, if every circumstance be duly considered, is the greatest of all solemnities, which we shall find to be
true, if we briefly consider the rest. The incarnation of God is a great feast, a day of solemn jubilation to us, but not to him, since he was then confined within the narrow compass of the small enclosure of a virginal womb. His nativity was likewise a great feast, and a day of public rejoicing to us. But he was to be pitied, who was born to such
great poverty, suffering and penury. His death and suffering was a great feast to us, because our sins were then all blotted out ; but as he suffered most cruel torments, and a most vile death, it was not to him, nor ought it be to us, a subject of joy.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus was a most solemn festivity, both to him and to us, because he appeared as a triumphant conqueror over death, and we remained justified, and in the opinion of St. Augustine, was a more holy feast than the rest, which may be understood of those which preceded
it. For the day of the ascension seems still to be more holy and greater than that, for though our Lord rose then from the dead, yet he still remained on earth, the gates of heaven were not yet open,
nor were the holy Fathers the presented to his Father, which was fulfilled on the day of his ascension. And if we consider, whatever God wrought before this, he wrought to this end, without which his work would have been imperfect. For heaven and earth, with all things in them, were made for man ; and man was made only for God, and to enjoy him in his glory : to which glory, no one, though ever so just, could ever attain after sin, till this day. Whence you may, in some measure comprehend how great and wonderful is this day, which may properly he called the solemn and joyful festivity of our Lord Jesus. For on this day was he first
seated in glory, in the humanity he had assumed, at the right hand of his Father, and enjoyed a perfect rest from all his labors.
This day is also a feast of great joy and glory to the blessed spirits of heaven ; for on this day they received a new satisfaction, in the sight of their Lord, whom before they had not seen, under the veil of his sacred humanity. And on this day was begun to be repaired the ruins of their heavenly company occasioned by the fall of their reprobate brethren, some of whose vacancies were filled up by a glorious number of blessed souls, of patriarchs,
prophets, and others, who on this day triumphantly entered the heavenly Jerusalem, and took possession of it as their own right and inheritance.
Wherefore, as we solemnly celebrate the feast of one saint or martyr who departed this life, and entered the glory of heaven, how much more ought we to do the same for so many thousands, who entered together in company with the Holy of Holies, who is far more worthy all praise, honor and glory,
than all the saints and angels together.
This day is likewise a feast of special joy to the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as she beheld her blessed eon Jesus, perfect God and perfect man, crowned with glory and triumph, ascend victoriously to heaven.
LORD JESUS CHRIST.
It is also a feast of joy to us, for on this day was our nature first exalted above the highest heavens ; and had he not ascended we could not have received
the greatest of all gifts, the Holy Ghost, whom he had promised to send us, wherefore he said to his disciples, " It is expedient for you that I go, for if I go not, the Paraclete shall not come to you."
St. Bernard saith, in his sermon on this day, that "The glorious feast of the ascension is the end and accomplishment of all other feasts and solemnities, and a blessed conclusion of the weary pilgrimage of Jesus Christ on earth."
Hence then may you gather, pious reader, that this feast is greater and more solemn than all others, and that soul, which earnestly and truly loves our Lord Jesus, should on this day lift up his mind more fervently towards heaven, and endeavor to receive a
greater plenitude of spiritual comfort and joy than all other festivals of the year. For our Lord said to his disciples: "Truly, if you loved me, you would
rejoice and be glad, because I go to the Father." Whence it appears from his own words, that there was no day in heaven more joyful than this, which
lasted till the following day of Pentecost, and we may devoutly imagine it to have been kept and solemnized in the following manner. The ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus was about~the sixth hour. And although the whole court of heaven made a general rejoicing in a manner beyond all ex
pression, yet from the hour of his ascension to the sixth hour of the next day, we may piously imagine
that the angels more particularly celebrated this joyful festival. And, in the same manner, on the second, the archangels ; on the third day, the vir
tues ; on the fourth day, the powers ; on the fifth, the principalities ; on the sixth, the dominations ; on the seventh, the thrones ; on the eighth, the cheru-
bims ; on the ninth, the seraphims ; which are the nine orders of holy angels, who continued their joyful solemnity till the vigil of Pentecost ; from which time, to the third hour of the day following, which is Whitsunday, the holy Fathers, with the rest of their blessed company, made the same solemn rejoicings. Thus, during the space of ten days before the descent of the Holy Ghost upon earth, they all
continued in an uninterrupted acclamation of praise, glory, and thanksgiving to God, to whom be con
tinued the same by every creature to the end of the world, and forever. Amen.
The Ascension of Our Lord: A Homily by Blessed John Henry Newman
The Ascension: Some Thoughts of the Late Father John Corbon O.P.
Ascension Sunday 2013
Prosper Guéranger: Let Us Follow Our Emmanuel, and See Him as Our High Priest Saturday.
Jesus has gone to heaven, not only that He may reign as King, but also that He may intercede for us as our High Priest.
[…] [T]he gate of heaven remained shut against us, until He threw it open by His own entrance into that sanctuary, where He was to exercise His eternal office of “Priest according to the order of Melchisedech.”
By His Ascension into heaven, His priesthood of Calvary was transformed into a priesthood of glory.
He entered with the veil of His once passible and mortal Flesh, within the veil of His Father’s presence, and there is He our Priest forever.
How truly is He called Christ, that is, “the Anointed!” for, no sooner was His divine Person united to the human Nature, than He received a twofold anointing: He was made both King and High Priest.
[…] Let us, then, follow our Emmanuel, and see Him as our High Priest.
[…] Let us go in thought to the temple of Jerusalem.
[…] Man is banished from the place wherein God dwells; he is unworthy to enter into so holy a presence.
He was created that the he might see God and be eternally happy with that vision of God.
There is a veil between himself and Him who is the his last end; neither can he ever remove that veil.
Such is the severe lesson given to us by the symbolism of the ancient temple.
But there is a merciful promise, and it gives a gleam of hope. This veil shall one day be raised up, and man shall enter within.
[…] As we have already noticed, none was allowed to enter the Holy of holies; there was but one exception, and that was in favour of the high priest, who might, once a year, penetrate beyond the veil….
If he entered without holding in his hands a vessel containing the blood of two victims, previously immolated by him for his own and the people’s sins, he was to be put to death.
If, on the contrary, he faithfully complied with the divine ordinances, he would be protected by the blood he carried in his hands, and might make intercession for himself and all Israel.
How beautiful and impressive are these figures of the first covenant! But how much more so their fulfillment in our Jesus’ Ascension!
Even during the period of His voluntary humiliations, He made His power felt in this sacred dwelling of God’s Majesty.
His last breath on the cross rent the veil of the Holy of holies, hereby signifying to us that man was soon to recover the right he had lost by sin, the right of admission into God’s presence.
Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875): The Liturgical Year @ The Traditional Latin Mass in Michiana (which contains a fuller version of this reflection, in addition to other related and beautifully presented material)
.The Eucharist is...
my source: The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of America
The Eucharist is a procession of the Church following the ascension of Christ.By Fr. Alexander Schmemann
The Eucharist is a mystery, the very mystery of joy, the mystery of all mysteries, the mystery of the Church.
The Eucharist is a joyful gathering of those who are to meet the risen Lord, and they enter with him into the bridal chamber.
The Eucharist is an action, by which a group of people become something corporately, which they had not been as a mere collection of individuals. It is the essential attitude, and the essential act of the Church, which is the new humanity, restored by Christ, one transforming act, and one ascending movement.
The Eucharist is a procession of the Church following the ascension of Christ.
The Eucharist is a journey of the Church into the dimension of the Kingdom.
The Eucharist is a real separation from the world. We always want to make Christianity understandable and acceptable to the mythical modern man on the street, and we forget that the Christ of whom we speak is not of this world, and that after his resurrection, he was not recognized, even by his own disciples. We do not realize that we never get anywhere because we never leave any place behind us.
The Eucharist is an entrance of the Church into the joy of its Lord, and to enter into that joy so as to be a witness to it in the world, is the very calling of the Church, its essential ministry, the mystery by which it becomes what it is. It is an entrance into the risen life of Christ, the very movement of the Church, as passage from the old into the new, from this world into the world to come.
The Eucharist is a manifestation of the Word of God. God will speak to us. His eternal Word will be given to us, and we will receive it.
The Eucharist is a movement, the movement that Adam failed to perform, and that, in Christ, has become the very life of man—a movement of adoration and praise, in which all joy and suffering, all beauty and all frustration, all hunger and all satisfaction, are referred to their ultimate end, and become finally, meaningful. It is real life, a movement of love and adoration toward God, the movement in which, alone, the meaning and value of all that exists can be revealed and fulfilled.
The Eucharist is an offering. It is our offering to him of ourselves, of our life, and of our whole world, “to take into our hands the whole world, as if it were an apple,” said a Russian poet.
The Eucharist is a sacrifice, but it the most natural act of man, the very essence of his life. Man is a sacrificial being. Because he finds his life in love, and love is sacrificial, it puts the value, the very meaning of life, in the other, and gives life to the other, and in this giving, in this sacrifice, finds the meaning and joy of life. It is, indeed, a sacrifice offered on behalf of all, and for all.
The Eucharist is Christ, himself. The Eucharist is his Eucharist, and he is the Eucharist. It is he who offers, and it is he who is offered. Christ is the perfect man, who stands before God. Christ, alone, is the perfect Eucharistic being. He is the Eucharist of the world. In and through this Eucharist, the whole creation becomes what always was to be, and yet, failed to be.
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ. It is the mystery of cosmic remembrance. It is, indeed, a restoration of love as the very life of the world. Remembrance is an act of love. God remembers us, and his remembrance, his love, is the foundation of the world. In Christ, we remember. The church, and its separation from this world, on its journey to heaven, remembers the world, remembers all men, remembers the whole creation, and takes it, in love, to God. We remember his life, his death, his resurrection, one movement of sacrifice, of love, of dedication to his father, and to men. This is the inexhaustible content of our remembrance.
The Eucharist is the lifting up of our offering, and of ourselves. The Eucharist is the ascension of the Church to heaven. We have entered the Eschaton, and we are now standing beyond time and space. It is because all this has first happened to us, that something will happen to bread and wine. It is our ascension in Christ.
The Eucharist is the state of perfect man. When man stands before the throne of God, when he has fulfilled all that God has given him to fulfill, when all sins are forgiven, all joy restored, then there is nothing else for him to do, but to give thanks. When a man stands before God, face to face, when he has been accepted into his presence, when his sins are forgiven, and he has recovered his pristine beauty, the Eucharist, thanksgiving, adoration, worship, is truly the ultimate and the total expression of his whole being. It is the divine element, the image of God in us, the life of paradise, the one essential relationship with God, the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven. It is a new style of life, the only real life, of creation with God, and in God, the only true relationship between God and the world. In sin, man has lost that pure Eucharist. He has directed his life, his love, his care, toward other objects. He has become incapable of Eucharist, thanksgiving, which is the state of man in paradise.
The Eucharist is the breakthrough that brings us to the table in the Kingdom, raises us to heaven, and makes us partakers of the divine food.
The Eucharist is the end of the movement. We are at the Paschal table of the Kingdom, the end of the journey, the end of time. It is the arrival at a vantage point from which we can see more deeply into the reality of the world.
The Eucharist is the mystery of unity and the moment of truth, the very expression and edification of the Church. Here, we see the world in Christ, as it really is, and not from our particular, and therefore, limited, and partial, points of view.
The Eucharist is communion with the whole Church. It is the supreme revelation of the communion of the saints, of the unity and interdependence of all the members of the Body of Christ. It is judgment and condemnation to people who do not see Christ in the Church, but see in it merely human pride and arrogance, selfishness, and the spirit of this world. It is the breaking of the bread, the one source of life that brings all to it, and redeems the unity of all men under one head, Christ, the mystery of forgiveness, the mystery of reconciliation achieved by Christ, and eternally granted to those who believe in him. It is the essential food of the Christian, strengthening his spiritual life, healing his diseases, affirming his faith, making him capable of leading a truly Christian life in this world, the gift of eternal life, an anticipation of the joy, peace and fullness of the Kingdom, a foretaste of its light. It is both partaking of Christ’s suffering, the expression of our readiness to accept his way of life, and sharing in his victory and triumph—a sacrificial meal, and a joyful banquet. His body is broken, and his blood is shed, and partaking of them, we accept the cross. Yet, by the cross, joy has entered the world, and this joy is ours when we are at the Lord’s table. It is given to me, personally, in order to transform me into a member of Christ, to unite me with all those who receive him, to reveal the Church as a fellowship of love.
The Eucharist is the mystery of the Kingdom, the fullness and manifestation of the Church as the age to come.
The Eucharist is our secret joy and certitude, the source of inspiration and growth, the victory that overcomes evil, the presence that makes our whole life, life in Christ.
The Eucharist is the beginning, and things that were impossible are again revealed to us as possible. The time of the world has become the time of the Church, the time of salvation and redemption.