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  • Sarah Raad

Ascended

“He did not leave heaven when He came down to us; nor did He withdraw from us when He went up again into heaven...” (Saint Augustine).

The Ascension (Salvador Dali)

I have been reflecting on the Second Glorious Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary, where we commemorate the Ascension of Christ into Heaven…


“When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:50-53).


And I have been reflecting on this image of Christ – this REALITY of Christ – being “taken up into heaven”. And as I have been thinking about that, I have been thinking not only about that image of Christ GOING UP, but of His leaving me DOWN HERE – leaving me behind – here on earth…


You see, so many times in my life, I have been troubled. And while it is true that my troubles have been small – relatively speaking – for me, during my troubles, I have felt such a distance from God that at times it felt to me as though God Himself has ceased to be and I am all alone in the universe. And I have been reflecting on this, because if I – who have only been asked to bear such a very little cross – can feel such a chasm between my ascended Lord and me, I wonder how those who bear the greater crosses must feel…

Saint Augustine is considered a doctor of the Church, which means that he has special authority in matters of faith and morals and his teachings have had a significant impact on the Church as a whole, because he was inspired by the Holy Spirit during his life.

In Saint Augustine’s sermon on the Feast of the Ascension, he said, “Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but He still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of His body, have to bear. He showed this when He cried out from above: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ and when He said: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food’. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with Him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to Him?”

And I have been reflecting on that rest that Saint Augustine advises us to find in the Risen Lord. You see, I feel – in some ways – that since the moment of my conversion, which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own, that I can understand a little more of what Saint Augustine spoke in his sermon, when he said, “While in heaven He is also with us; and we while on earth are with Him. He is here with us by His divinity, His power and His love. We cannot be in heaven, as He is on earth, by divinity, but in Him, we can be there by love.”


For, in the moments since my conversion, I have felt a peace that is otherworldly at even the worst of times. And I can only conclude that it – that peace – is the experience of Heaven through His love…


For, “He did not leave heaven when He came down to us; nor did He withdraw from us when He went up again into heaven... No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: He is the Son of Man by His union with us, and we by our union with Him are sons of God.” (Saint Augustine, Sermon on the Ascension).


And I have to stop and give thanks for the God who ascended, so that He could take me with Him…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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