Today Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. “Let our hearts ascend with Him,” wrote Saint Augustine.
Traditionally, and still in many dioceses of the world, the Church celebrates Ascension Thursday this day, 40 days after the Resurrection. For 40 days, our Risen Lord dwelt with Mary and His Apostles in a glorified and mysterious way. He ate and drank with them, traveled with them, yet also walked through locked doors, disappeared here and reappeared there. This was an intense time of revelation and an unveiling of the fulfilled promise of Redemption.
The Ascension of Our Lord took place on Thursday, the same day of the week as the Last Supper, where Jesus transformed bread and wine into His Body and Blood and ate with His Apostles, instituting a new covenant and a new sacrament. Sacrament comes from the Greek word, “mysterion”, where we also get our word, “mystery.” This profound mystery of God’s presence with us, and even in us, becomes the backdrop for Jesus ascending to the Father. On that day, His human Body was no longer to be seen walking on this earth, but His real Body and Blood are still with us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
At the Ascension, Jesus was teaching us to depend on His presence with us in the Eucharist – this covenant and promise of union with Him. In the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “You must always be Eucharistic souls in order to be authentic Christians”.
On this glorious, Eucharistic day of May 13, we the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist also celebrate our community feast day, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (in addition to the feasts of Our Lady of Fatima and our Dominican sister Blessed Imelda Lambertini!).
Our Blessed Mother understood mystery and sacrament better than any other creature. During the days leading up to the Ascension, and also as the Apostles entered into the holy 9-day “novena” in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Mary was a bedrock of faith and adhesion to His Presence. Honor Our Lady through her song “O Sanctissima”.
Sr. Mary Bethany, O.P. is with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.