Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: Greenville, Texas
|Posted: Sat May 10, 2008 1:20 pm Post subject: Ascension of Our Lord 2008
|Ascension of Our Lord 2008
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
May 4, 2008
Jesus said to them, “All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me; go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptize them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe everything I have commanded you and know that I Am with you always until the end of time.”
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Yesterday I was able to do something I have been waiting four and a half years to do. I went to Blessed Sacrament in Dallas, my former parish, and I offered the 4 pm Mass. After four and a half years of being away, it was great to offer a Sunday Mass there at a Church that I served for ten and a half years, and to see people I am familiar with and, who over the years grew very dear to me. The parish is dear to me for many reasons but one of the dearest reasons is that my father spent the last six months of his life there. When he wasn’t at the hospital he was at the rectory with me.
There is a window high on the wall at Blessed Sacrament and in the window is a lattice. From the other side the window can be opened. When my father was in the rectory and was able, he would walk from his room down the hall, which connected to the Church. He would sit in a chair behind that window and attend Mass. When it was time for Communion, I would walk up the stairs and take my father Holy Communion, come back down, and continue Mass. After Mass my father could just walk back to his room. So, it was very special to be there again after four and a half years. I was invited by the priest at Blessed Sacrament after I attended the funeral of Fr. O’Rourke, the former Pastor here at St. William’s.
Friday was the Feast of St. Athanasius, who was the Bishop of Alexandria, which is at the mouth of the Nile River where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. He live not long after the Apostle, St. John, who is on the cover of the bulletin. He died in the year 373 and was bishop at a very young age, serving forty-five years as bishop. At the time St. Athanasius the world was falling apart, the Roman Empire was falling apart, and the Church was falling apart. There were many difficult situations and problems occurring at the time of this saint. I would say that the greatest is that so many bishops, priests, and laypeople believed not as Christ teaches through His Church, but began to listen to the error of a man named Arius. This is called the Arian Heresy, which is traced back to Arius.
We are told that Arius was a bishop and a very likable kind of guy, the kind of guy you might like to go and have a beer with. His influence convinced many bishops to side with him and even the emperor was attracted to that error. Arius taught that Jesus is not God and not divine. So, you can see what a terrible effect that this could have on the Church. Many times St. Athanasius was exiled from his beloved Diocese, so much so that they could have easily put in a revolving door for him. He would be sent away and sent back repeatedly.
Terrible things were said about St. Athanasius. Once at Council of Bishops, they were throwing everything they could at St. Athanasius to do him in. One guy accused him of having killed a brother bishop and if that wasn’t enough, he was accused of cutting off his hand. You can just hear the collective gasps of those in attendance. The following day the allegedly dead bishop was produced alive and with both hands. Again, this was just another example of how this saint suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
St. Athanasius taught that Jesus is True God and true man. That coincides perfectly with what Jesus says before He ascended into Heaven. His last words were,
All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
He showed us that this was true. After saying these words He ascended into Heaven. The same things you and I are bound by, didn’t bind Him. He ascended into Heaven. All power had been given to Him and is His.
Today we celebrate the Ascension. The New Testament tells us that the Ascension is forty days after Easter. That would be last Thursday. It is sad to say that because so many people refuse to attend Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation it is moved to a Sunday. So, today is Ascension Thursday Sunday…if you can follow that. We must see the Ascension as such a pivotal moment in the life of Christ and the Church that it helps us as well.
The cover of the bulletin shows St. John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos. He wrote the last Gospel and the Book of Revelation, which is attributed to him. The picture depicts a vision he was given. You can see Christ in glory and the animal that is leaning on him is not his Labrador, but a lamb. This is symbolic; Jesus is the Lamb of God. You see the Twelve Apostles, the four living creatures around the throne, and an angel at the bottom of the circle; he has incense. If you look between all of that and St. John you see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. If you follow the horsemen from left to right you see two figures, two men entering a cave. We hear in the Book of Revelation that things will get so bad that men will actually enter caves and go beneath the earth and cry out to have the hills fall on them. They will do this out of fright because terrible things will happen. Listed on the side of the picture are some things that will happen. All of this is based on the Book of Revelation.
You see how the Book of Revelation is a vision given to St. John and terrible things are predicted. The world is going to fall apart. This is very different from what we are taught by the world. The world tells us that this life is solid. Father knocks on wood and says, You can depend on this because it is real and there is nothing after this life, the world tells us. So, eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Yes, everything is so permanent. You go into a Cracker barrel or Chili’s and you see all those treasured family portraits looking down on you as you are eating. When those people died, these family heirlooms were not taken with them but put into a garage sale. Sorry Women’s Guild! But that is where they end up, right? These things that seem so treasured and permanent end up in someone else’s restaurant. That is totally contrary to what the world tells us, that this is so permanent, and yet what Christ tells us is that everything has been given into His hands and the prayers of the Mass, the Ascension tells us that where He has gone we hope to follow.
I mentioned the death of my father earlier. Anytime you lose someone when they move away and you never hear from them again, that is a kind of death and then there is the actual physical death of a friend, relative, child, parent or sibling. These are deaths that we experience and they shake us up, and like the Book of Revelations notes, it is cataclysmic and so much so that we have to focus on what is enduring. In fact, our loved ones who have gone before us may be in Heaven or are on their way to Heaven. Where they are starts to tug on our hearts so that this world and its grip starts to loosen because we have this yearning to follow where Christ has gone.
In your bulletin there is a quote that I mentioned last week. I know it is hard to listen to someone read to you. It wasn’t long so I printed it this week. It is from the book, “Lukewarmness, The Devil in Disguise.” I have added another quote from another author concerning the devil in disguise.
| ”But Our Lord tells us, seeds will not grow in every soil, but only in the soil of Christian culture, and so the soul must be made ready to receive the seed. Restoration of the culture, he [John Senior] writes, ‘demands the cultivation of the soil in which the love of Christ can grow, and means we must...rethink priorities.’...First he [John Senior] says, ‘smash the television set,’ to free ourselves from the enormous cost in time and money devoted to this degrading slavery.” |
You have an idea of how much the world has a hold on you by the powers of time you dedicate to television. I would just like equal time. For example, if you spend 16 hours a day watching TV then I think that you should spend 16 hours a day praying. Wait a minute. I think that is more that 24 hours. But, you see where I am going with this. It has such a hold on some people and they can’t function because they are in slavery. I like the way John Senior writes about it because it represents a view, that this movie is so permanent that it is more permanent than the life hereafter. Yet, all of these things, as attractive as they are and as attractive as they can be presented to us, are passing away. When death enters our life, or a mini-death, like St. Athanasius experienced in exile from his beloved diocese, help us to focus our attention not on the clatter of the coming apocalypse but on Jesus. He is true God and true man and every power on Heaven and earth has been given to Him and these are indeed the final words of our Savior to us lest we become paralyzed by these events.
A few weeks ago we heard in St. John’s Gospel that Jesus said He would not leave us orphans. He has not left us orphans!
I Am with you always until the end of time.”
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit