Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for May 28, 2006

Although the Liturgical and Scriptural traditions of the Church have customarily placed the Ascension on a Thursday, recent pastoral adaptation for much of the United States has transferred the celebration of this great Solemnity to the following Sunday. Therefore, today is the seventh Sunday of Easter, but we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. This feast recalls the events described in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:3-12. Just as every liturgical feast is more than a simple “remembering,” so to, our celebration of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is more than celebrating an historical event.

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, reminds us that the Liturgical commemoration of history brings us into immediate contact with that reality; in a certain sense the historical event is made present even as we become partakers in the eternal present of God’s action. He writes: “The liturgy is the means by which earthly time is inserted into the time of Jesus Christ and into its present. It is the turning point in the process of redemption” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 61). In a passage that is a bit more obscure, we read “The real interior act, though it does not exist without the exterior, transcends time, but since it comes from time, time can again and again be brought into it. That is how we can become contemporary with the past events of salvation” (ibid., p. 56).

Even though these ideas are somewhat theologically advanced, they are not impossible to penetrate. In our liturgical celebration of the saving events of our redemption – the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ – we truly participate in the eternal action of the Son, even as He acted concretely in history. Because, however, Jesus Christ is a divine person, His actions are not limited to space or time. When we participate in the Sacred Liturgy, we make present those historical realities and are caught up into the eternal worship of the Father by the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension today, our hearts and minds are caught up with Jesus Christ as He ascends to the Father. In some way, we gaze into the heavens along with the Apostles, admonished by the two angels: “Why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We long for the second coming of Christ, but at the same time, know that unless our Lord departs, He cannot send the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom we await at Pentecost (cf. John 16:7).

Through the mystery of the Ascension, we know that we have a home awaiting us in heaven. Each of us is called by the Father to dwell with Him, His Son, and the Holy Spirit for all eternity; this is an amazing call, made more amazing by our Lord’s continual offer of the divine life of grace so that we may achieve this great destiny. We are charged to live out the mystery of the Ascension, not gazing into heaven, but preaching the Gospel with our words and deeds, until we too are called home.

We also celebrate a feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary this week, at the end of the month dedicated to her honor. May 31st is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, recalling her visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Even though Mary herself was pregnant with the child Jesus, she undertook an arduous journey to the hill-country of Judea in order to minister to her cousin during the final months of her pregnancy. Seeing Mary as the new “Ark of the Covenant,” the parallels between Luke 1:39-56 and 2 Samuel 6:10-15 provide an interesting example of “typology,” a traditional way of seeing the unity of Scripture and interpreting the prophetic actions and words of the Old Testament in light of the New.

As we celebrate this Memorial Day with family and friends, may we be inspired by the example of charity given us by the Virgin Mary, and carry the Christ-child with us to our summer holiday destinations. Then we won’t simply gaze into the heavens, longing for our Lord’s return, but we can truly make Him present everywhere we go, through the power of His Spirit. May God bless you!