Thursday, May 10, 2018

Solemnity of the Ascension

Back in December we were taking our leave of others with the words, Merry Christmas, or Blessed Christmas, or the sooooo politically correct, government, and university approved, Have a Happy Holiday.  Forty days ago we wished others a Happy and Blessed Easter.  What about the Solemnity of the Ascension? I’ve yet to see a card celebrating the Ascension or hear any kind of greeting.   

There is something odd about how the arc of what is called “the glorification event”--the trajectory of Jesus' life--has been disrupted.  The glorification event is comprised of Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.  None of these moments in Jesus’ life happened in a vacuum, in splendid isolation, or unrelated to the others. No event in Jesus' life can stand alone. 

Jesus’ birth is the most problematic when it comes to standing alone.  Too many isolate Jesus’ birth from all that followed, and indeed, from all that preceded it. Christmas is not a stand-alone episode.  Were it not for the events of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and the Ascension, what we call “the Christmas Story” would make no sense. It would be nothing more than a charming story featuring a cute kid, a story without meaning or relevance, if there were any story at all.  Hammarskjold wrote a haiku that I quote frequently.  It is a perfect synopsis of the arc of Jesus' life, from birth to passion and death, using only seventeen syllables.   

"On Christmas Eve, Good Friday
was foretold them
in a trumpet fanfare"

Similarly, Jesus’ resurrection and ascension are of a piece.  The late Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow put it well when he wrote, "We must beware of isolating discrete moments in what is one continuous event in the revelation of God.  He who is born of Mary is he who dies on the cross, is he who rises from the dead, returns to the Father who sent him, and sends his Holy Spirit on all who confess him as Lord and Son of God.”  

The Easter Season will end in ten days with the Feast of Pentecost.  The Church will return to ordinary time. Ordinary time will continue throughout the spring, summer, and most of autumn. It will end on 2 December 2018 when we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent and prepare to recall and experience the glorification event—Jesus’ birth, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension—yet again.  

May you all have a Happy Ascension Thursday and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost with great joy. 

Oftentimes on Solemnities and Feast Days rather than preaching on the readings I will focus on the solemnity or feast.  The Boston Archdiocese is one of the few in the U.S. that continues to celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on Thursday rather than transposing it to Sunday.  Thus, I celebrated this morning at St. Patrick Manor.  

I was at the charterhouse over the weekend.  Had a lot of time on Sunday and less so other days to shoot.  Still getting adapted to the new camera.  One of the older lenses is balky and a bit unpredictable.  Is getting better but there is still some work to be done. 

The books in place for the night office.

The large crucifix in the small visitor's chapel.  Very dramatic angles for shooting.  Can't decide if I prefer the black and white or the color. 

 One of my favorite decorating accents, though it is quite outdated by current standards, is glass block.  There is a small glass block window.  The hall in which I was standing was dark and very narrow.  The room it overlooks is quite large and fairly bright.  

 A set of weathered stairs. 

Three small stained glass windows in the back of the church.  They are embedded in a gray concrete wall.

 One of the lakes at sunset.

A red dock with a fishing pole at the ready.  Needed:  One worm.

Birch trees.  Love 'em. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ

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