a collection of prayers, quotes, poetry, hymns, and art to use as meditation prompts
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Acts 1:1-11
The Ascension Dome, Italian Mosaic Artist 1150-1200, San Marco, Venice
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
a collect for Ascension Day.
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia. For Christ, your Son and Son of God, has risen as he said, alleluia. Pray to God for us, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. For the Lord had truly risen, alleluia.
Regina Caeli (12th century)
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortlesss, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, in glory everlasting. Amen.
collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day
Stretching Himself as if again, through downpress of dust upward, soul giving way to thread of white, that reaches for daylight, to open as green leaf that it is… Can Ascension not have been arduous, almost, as the return from Sheol, and back through the tomb into breath? Matter reanimate now must reliquish itself, its human cells, molecules, five senses, linear vision endured as Man – the sole all-encompassing gaze resumed now, Eye of Eternity. Reliquished, earth’s broken Eden. Expulsion, liberation, last self-enjoined task of Incarnation. He again Fathering Himself. Seed-case splitting. He again Mothering His birth: torture and bliss.
– Denise Levertov
detail, Ascension, Giotto, c.1300
Salute the last, and everlasting day, Joy at the uprising of this Sunne, and Sonne, Ye whose just tears, or tribulation Have purely washed, or burnt your drossy clay; Behold the Highest, parting hence away, Lightens the dark clouds, which he treads upon, Nor doth he by ascending, show alone, But first he, and he first enters the way. O strong Ram which hast battered heaven for me, Mild lamb, which with thy blood, hast marked the path; Bright Torch, which shin'st, that I the way may see, Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath. And if the holy Spirit, my Muse did raise, Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
-John Donne 1572-1631 from La Corona
I soar and rise Up to the skies, Leaving the world their day, And in my flight, For the true light Go seeking all the way.
-Henry Vaughan from Ascension Day
The Ascension, Master Thomas de Coloswar, 1427
He that hath found some fledged bird's nest may know At first sight, if the bird be flown; But what fair well or grove he sings in now, That is to him unknown.
-Henry Vaughan Last verse of World of Light
Why, since You wounded This heart, don't You heal it? And why, since You stole it from me, Do You leave it so, And fail to carry off what You have stolen?
-John of the Cross from The Spiritual Canticle
Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: “If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.” For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.
...We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.
-Augustine Sermon for the Lord's Ascension
See how the Church invites us, in her liturgy, to celebrate with gladness this exaltation of he Bridegroom, our God and our Redeemer.... "I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to My God and your God." Jesus has but gone before us: He does not separate Himself from us, He does not separate us from Him. If He enters into His glorious Kingdom, it is to "go and prepare a place" for us. He promises to come again one day to take us to Himself, so that, He says "where I am, you also may be." Thus, we are already, participants in the glory and bliss of Christ Jesus; we shall be there one day in reality. Volo, Pater, ut ubi sum ego, et illi sint secum. (Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.) -John 17:24. What power in this prayer, and what sweetness in this promise! Let us then give ourselves up to this intimate and wholly spiritual joy.
-Columba Marmion OSB Christ in His Mysteries
The hour of this glorification has not yet struck for us. But while awaiting our eternal union with the choir of the blessed, we should in mind and holy desires dwell in that heaven where Christ, our Head, lives and reigns for ever. We are upon earth only as strangers and pilgrims seeking our country; as members of the city of saints and the household of God, we may, says St. Paul, already dwell in heaven by faith and hope. (Philippians 3:20)
-Columba Marmion OSB Christ in His Mysteries
Christ's Ascension is therefore also our own, upon the glory of the Head rests the hope of the body. On this holy day, we have received not only the assurance of entering into possession of eternal glory, but we have already entered into the heights of heaven with Christ Jesus.
Leo, Sermon 1 De Ascensione Domini c. iv
It is related in the life of St. Gertrude, that one day, on the festival of the Ascension, when she received the Sacred Host from the hand of the priest, she heard Jesus say to her, “Behold Me: I come, not to bid thee farewell, but to take thee with Me to heaven, and present thee to My Father.
Marmion, citing The Herald of Divine Love
Yet the bride states that she was wounded because she did not find Him. And the soul also declares that she was wounded with love and that He left her thus. The loving soul lives in constant suffering at the absence of her Beloved, for she is already surrendered to Him and hopes for the reward of that surrender: the surrender of the Beloved to her. Yet He does not do so. Now lost to herself and to all things for the sake of her loved One, she has gained nothing frm her loss, since she does not possess Him.
-John the the Cross The Spiritual Canticle
The Ascension, Gherarducci, Gradual 2, 1395
Alleluia! Not as orphans are we left in sorrow now; Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how: though the cloud from sight received him, when the forty days were o’er, shall our hearts forget his promise, "I am with you evermore"?
William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) Second verse of Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (#460-461, 1982 Hymnal)
Lord beyond our mortal sight, Alleluia raise our hearts to reach thy height, Alleluia there thy face unclouded see, Alleluia find our heaven of heavens in thee, Alleluia.
Charles Wesley 1707-1788 (3rd verse of Hail the day the sees him rise...)
He who was nailed to the cross is Lord and the ruler of nature; all things created on earth sin go the glory of God:
Daily the loveliness grows, adorned with the glory of blossom; heaven her gates unbars, flinging her increase of light:
God the Creator, the Lord who rulest the earth and the heavens, guard us from harm without, cleanse us from evil within: Jesus the health of the world, enlighten our minds, thou Redeemer, Son of the Father supreme, only begotten of God:
Spirit of life and of power, now flow in us, fount of our being, light that dost lighten all, life that in all dost abide:
Praise to the Giver of good! Thou Love who art author of concord, pour out thy balm on our souls, order our ways in thy peace: Hail thee, festival day! blest day that art hallowed for ever, day when the Christ ascends high in the heavens to reign.
Venantius Honorius Fortunatus - c540-c600 tr. The English Hymnal, 1906 (#216 The Hymnal 1982)
See the Conqueror mounts in triumph; see the King in royal state, riding on the clouds, his chariot, to his heavenly palace gate! Hark! The choirs of angel voices joyful alleluias sing, and the portals high are lifted to receive their heavenly King.
He who on the cross did suffer, he who from the grave arose, he has vanquished sin and Satan; he by death has spoiled his foes. While he lifts his hands in blessing, he is parted from his friends; while their eager eyes behold him, he upon the clouds ascends.
Thou hast raised our human nature on the clouds to God's right hand: there we sit in heavenly places, there with thee in glory stand, Jesus seigns, adored by angels; Man with God is on the throne; mighty Lord, in thine ascension, we by faith behold our own.
Christopher Wordsworth 1807-1885
The Ascension, Monaco Lorenzo, antiphonary, c.1410
The Ascension, Russian, Novgorod School
Ascension, 18th century, Yaroslavl Museum of Russian Art
The mandorla, a circle within circles, evokes in a two dimensional image the mystery of multi-dimensions. Above, the dark mandorla emphasizes the mysterious and unknowable. On the left, Jesus enters the sphere of God in a mandorla of cloud. To the right, fiery multi-eyed seraphim wings upon a chariot supports the Great Entrance. Both fire and cloud as well as darkness symbolize the Presence of God.
Often the iconographer creates a sense of ambiguity as to whether Jesus is coming or going.