|The Feast of the Ascension|
he Acts of the Apostles, i. 1-11. The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up: to whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard, saith He, by my mouth: for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. They therefore who were come together asked Him, saying: Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But He said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in His own power. But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when He had said these things, while they looked on, He was raised up: and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen Him going into heaven.
For forty days after His resurrection, Jesus remained with His disciples, to convince them of the truth of His resurrection, to teach them in regard to His kingdom, that is, His Church, and their vocation; and as they were still thinking of an earthly kingdom to be established by Christ, He referred them to the instruction of the Holy Ghost, and then ascended to heaven, whence He shall come to be our judge.
Rejoice over the instructions which are preserved for you through the Church; but rejoice especially that Jesus has taken possession of the glory gained by His most profound humiliations, for now He is there an intercessor for you; there He prepared for you a mansion; there is now your home. Today look up to heaven where Christ is, hope, suffer, love, and pray.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Mark, xvi. 14-20. At that time, as the eleven were at table, Jesus appeared to them and He upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart: because they did not believe them who had seen Him after He was risen again. And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached every where: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.
"Let us," says St. Augustine, "in spirit, ascend with Christ, that when the time comes we may follow Him in body also. But we must know, dear brethren, that neither pride, nor avarice, nor impurity can ascend with Christ, our Lord, for pride does not keep company with the teacher of humility, nor wickedness with the source of all good, not impurity with the Son of the Virgin."
O King of glory! Who didst on this day ascend victoriously above the heavens, leave us not orphans, but send us, from the Father, the Spirit of truth Whom Thou hast promised, and receive us all into Thy glory.
Why, on this day, is the Easter-candle extinguished and carried away after the gospel?
It is done in remembrance of the hour in which Christ, Who is typified by the Easter-candle, left this earth.