Monday, May 22, 2006


Men of Galilee, we read in the Introit, “why do you stand looking in the sky? The Lord will return, just as you have seen Him ascend, alleluia.” The liturgy for the Solemnity of the Ascension reverberates with the exultation expressed in the 42nd Psalm: “o clap your hands all you nations: shout unto God with the voice of exultation.”

Nothing saddens the human heart more than the death of a loved one. Our pain becomes especially intense at the end of the cemetery prayers. We leave our love ones never to see them again with human eyes. These sentiments, however, are not the ones expressed by the liturgy at the Lord’s Ascension. Rather, the Church rejoices! Why do we rejoice? The Epistle reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us clearly in the words of the “two men dressed in white.” Undoubtedly Angels, the men said: “This Jesus, Who is taken up from you into heaven, shall return just as you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Christ lives with us through His Mystical Body, the Holy, Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, is the Sacrament of our Salvation. Through the saving mystery of the Church, everyone has all of the means necessary to attain eternal life. We have the Priesthood, the Mass, the Sacraments, and the truth of Catholic faith and morality.

At the last Supper, Our Blessed Lord said: “Do not be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions; otherwise, how could I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Yes! There is a “Mansion” prepared for each of us in heaven!

Saint Augustine expresses the Church’s joy at Our Lord’s Ascension along with an admonition: “Our Savior has ascended into heaven, beloved brethren, but let us not on that account be troubled here on earth. If our minds are there, we still have peace here. So let us ascend spiritually with Christ that when His promised day will come, we will follow Him also with our bodies. We must not forget, brethren, that neither pride, nor avarice, nor impurity ascends with Christ; none of our vices will ascend with our Healer. Therefore, if we desire to follow Him, we must necessarily part with our sins and vices. For all such things hold us bound to earth as with fetters.”

The Catholic mind has a healthy longing for heaven. This is not a morbid death wish! Rather, it is a lively desire to be with Our Lord in heaven. Heaven is our final destination and, as Vatican II teaches, we are on our pilgrim journey to be with Christ, Our Lord, for all eternity. Again we recall the words of Saint Augustine in his Confessions: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord. Thus, our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Jesus said: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you and your hearts will rejoice.” Indeed, we are not orphans. Think of what God has done for us! Jesus, the Son of God, is our divine Brother. Our Lord has given us His own dear mother to be our own. Every Catholic can point to Mary and say: “There is my Mother! My Blessed Mother in heaven! Our good mother, with Saint Joseph at her side, waits to greet us in the kingdom of Heaven. There Jesus, her divine Son, has prepared a “Mansion” for us!

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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