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Header-Meditations on the Ascension

—Taken from The Mystical City of God
by Ven. Maria de Agreda*

 

Having fulfilled all that had been written and prophesied concerning His coming into the world, His Life, Death and the Redemption of man, He (Our Lord Jesus Christ) sealed all the mysteries and hastened the fulfillment of His promise, according to which He was, with the Father, to send the Paraclete upon His Church after He himself should have ascended into heaven (John 16:7).

Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into HeavenIn order to celebrate this festive and mysterious day, Christ Our Lord selected as witnesses the hundred and twenty persons, to whom, as related in the foregoing chapter, He had spoken in the Cenacle. They were the most holy Mary, the eleven Apostles, the seventy-two disciples, Mary Magdalen, Lazarus her brother, the other Marys' and the faithful men and women making up the above-mentioned number of one hundred and twenty.

 

A Privileged Procession

With this little flock, our divine Shepherd Jesus left the Cenacle, and, with His most blessed Mother at His side, He conducted them all through the streets of Jerusalem. The Apostles and all the rest in order, proceeded in the direction of Bethany, which was less than half a league over the brow of mount Olivet. The company of angels and saints from limbo and purgatory followed the Victor with new songs of praise, although Mary alone was privileged to see them.

The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was already divulged throughout Jerusalem and Palestine. Although the perfidious and malicious princes and priests had spread about the false testimony of His being stolen by disciples, yet many would not accept their testimony nor give it any credit. It was divinely provided, that none of the inhabitants of the city, and none of the unbelievers or doubters, should pay any attention to this holy procession, or hinder it on its way from the Cenacle.

Mt Olivet in Israel today[T]hey all ascended mount Olivet to its highest point. Then the most prudent Mother prostrated Herself at the feet of Her Son worshipping Him with admirable humility, She adored Him as the true God and as the Redeemer of the world, asking His last blessing. All the faithful there present imitated Her and did the same. Weeping and sighing, they asked the Lord, whether He was now to restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). The Lord answered that this was a secret of the eternal Father and not to be made known to them. For the present, it was necessary and befitting, that they receive the Holy Ghost and preach in Jerusalem, in Samaria and in all the world, the mysteries of the Redemption of the world.

 

The Heavens Open

Our Lord Ascending into HeavenJesus, having taken leave of this holy and fortunate gathering of the faithful, His countenance beaming forth peace and majesty, joined His hands and, by His own power, began to raise Himself from the earth, leaving thereon the impression of His sacred feet. The Savior Jesus drew after Him also the celestial choirs of the angels, the holy Patriarchs and the rest of the glorified saints, some of them with body and soul, others only as to their soul. All of them in heavenly order were raised up together from the earth, accompanying and following their King, their Chief and Head.

The new and mysterious sacrament, which the right hand of the Most High wrought on this occasion for His most holy Mother, was that He raised Her up with Him in order to put Her in possession of the glory which He had assigned to Her as His true Mother and which She had by Her merits prepared and earned for Herself. The divine power enabled the Blessed Mother miraculously to be in two places at once (bilocation); remaining with the children of the Church for their comfort during their stay in the Cenacle and at the same time ascending with the Redeemer of the world to His heavenly throne, where She remained for three days.

Amidst this jubilee and other rejoicings exceeding all our conceptions, that new divinely arranged procession approached the heavens. Between the two choirs of angels and saints, Christ and His most blessed Mother made their entry. All in their order gave supreme honor to each respectively and to both together, breaking forth in hymns of praise in honor of the Authors of grace and of life. Then the eternal Father placed upon the throne of His Divinity at His right hand, the incarnate Word, and in such glory and majesty, that He filled with new admiration and reverential fear all the inhabitants of heaven.

 

Mary Greeted by the Trinity

On this occasion the humility and wisdom of our most prudent Queen reached their highest point; for, overwhelmed by such divine and admirable favors, She hovered at the footstool of the royal throne, annihilated in the consciousness of being a mere earthly creature.

Coronation of the Blessed Virgin MaryProstrate She adored the Father and broke out in new canticles of praise. Again the angels and saints were filled with admiration and joy to see the most prudent humility of their Queen, whose living example of virtue, as exhibited on that occasion, they emulated among themselves. Then the voice of the eternal Father was heard saying: “My Daughter, ascend higher!” Her divine Son also called Her, saying: “My Mother rise up and take possession of the place, which I owe Thee for having followed and imitated me. The Holy Ghost said: “My Spouse and Beloved, come to my eternal embraces!”

Immediately was proclaimed to all the blessed the decree of the most Holy Trinity, by which the most blessed Mother, for having furnished Her own life-blood toward the Incarnation and for having nourished, served, imitated and followed Him with all the perfection possible to a creature, was exalted and placed at the right hand of Her Son for all eternity. None other of the human creatures should ever hold that place or position, nor rival Her in the unfailing glory connected with it; but it was to be reserved to the Queen and to be Her possession by right after Her earthly life, as of one who pre-eminently excelled all the rest of the saints.

 

The Greatest Sacrifice of All

In fulfillment of this decree, the most blessed Mary was raised to the throne of the Holy Trinity at the right hand of Her Son. At the same time, She, with all the saints, was informed, that She was given possession of this throne not only for all the ages of eternity, but that it was left to Her choice to remain there even now and without returning to the earth. For it was the conditional will of the divine Persons, that as far as They were concerned, She should now remain in that state.

In order that She might make Her own choice, She was shown anew the state of the Church upon earth, the orphaned and necessitous condition of the faithful, whom She was left free to assist. This admirable proceeding of the divine Providence was to afford the Mother of Mercy an occasion of going beyond, so to say, even Her own self in doing good and in obliging the human race with an act of love similar to that of Her Son in assuming a passible state and in suspending the glory due to His body during and for our Redemption.

The most Blessed Mother imitated Him also in this respect, so that She might be in all things like the incarnate Word. The great Lady therefore, having clearly before Her eyes all the sacrifices included in this proposition, left the throne and, prostrating Herself at the feet of the Three Persons, said:

“Eternal and almighty God, my Lord, to accept at once this reward, which thy condescending kindness offers me, would be to secure my rest; but to return to the world and continue to labor in mortal life for the good of the children of Adam and the faithful of Thy holy Church, would be to the glory and according to the pleasure of thy Majesty and would benefit my sojourning and banished children on earth. I accept this labor and renounce for the present the peace and joy of Thy presence. Well do I know, what I possess and receive, but I will sacrifice it to further the love Thou hast for men. Accept, Lord and Master of all my being, this sacrifice and let Thy divine strength govern in the undertaking confided to me. Let faith in Thee be spread, let thy holy name be exalted, let thy holy Church be enlarged, for Thou hast acquired it by the blood of thy Only Begotten and mine; I offer myself anew to labor for thy glory and for the conquest of the souls, as far as I am able.”

Virgin in the CloudsSuch was the sacrifice made by the most loving Mother and Queen, one greater than ever was conceived by any creature, and it was so pleasing to the Lord, that He immediately rewarded it by operating in Her those purifications and enlightenments necessary to the vision of the Divinity. Thus elevated She partook of the beatific vision and was filled with splendor and celestial gifts, altogether beyond the power of man to describe or conceive in mortal life.

 

Back on Earth

In order to finish this chapter, and with it this second part, I return to the congregation of the faithful, whom we left so sorrowful on mount Olivet. The most holy Mary did not forget them in the midst of Her glory. As they stood weeping and lost in grief and, as it were, absorbed in looking into the aerial regions, into which their Redeemer and Master had disappeared, She turned Her eyes upon them from the cloud on which She had ascended, in order to send them Her assistance. Moved by their sorrow, She besought Jesus lovingly to console these little children, whom He had left as orphans upon the earth.

Moved by the prayers of His Mother, the Redeemer of the human race sent down two angels in white and resplendent garments, who appeared to all the disciples and the faithful and spoke to them: “Ye men of Galilee, do not look up to heaven in so great astonishment, for this Lord Jesus, who departed from you and has ascended into heaven, shall again return with the same glory and majesty in which you have just seen Him” (Acts 1:11). By such words and others which they added they consoled the Apostles and disciples and all the rest, so that they might not grow faint, but in their retirement hope for the coming and the consolation of the Holy Ghost promised by their divine Master. 

Two Angels

 



St Maria of Agreda* Mary of Agreda was born at Agreda in Spain in 1602, of noble parents.

In her seventeenth year Mary entered the convent of Poor Clares of the Immaculate Conception at Agreda.

She received special revelations concerning the life of the Virgin Mother of God, which she recorded in a book called The Mystical City of God.

Mary died on Pentecost morning, May 24, 1667. Her body remains incorrupt to this day.

 


Text adapted by Tonia Long

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 5, 2020

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do...

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July 5

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.
We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence,
but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Her goodness went as far as raising her husband’s illegiti...

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St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth of Portugal known as “The Holy Queen” was born Isabel of Aragon in Zaragoza, Spain, the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon and Queen Constanza of Naples. She was named after her great aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

From childhood, having received a most Christian upbringing, she learned to practice self-discipline, mortification of wayward tendencies, the avoidance of sin and the pursuit of virtue, prayer and union with God’s holy will.

Beautiful, talented and good, she was sought in marriage by several European monarchs, and was ultimately betrothed by proxy at the age of thirteen to King Dinis of Portugal.

A year and a half later she arrived in Portugal to assume her responsibilities as queen. Although he was an able ruler, her husband had an irate temper and sinful habits. While he respected and revered his queen, he was unfaithful to her and had several illegitimate children.

Elizabeth bore the conjugal betrayal with exquisite patience and heroic magnanimity, praying continuously for her wayward spouse. She and Dinis had two children: Constanza and Alfonso.

The young queen started her day with Mass and prayer, and then proceeded to see to the governance of her palace. In the free moments she sewed and embroidered with her ladies for the poor, and personally tended to their needs. Afternoons were dedicated to the care of the elderly, the poor or anyone else in want.

Amazingly talented, Elizabeth mastered several languages, sang beautifully, and enjoyed a remarkable understanding of engineering and architecture. She herself designed and oversaw the building of several churches, monasteries and hospitals, developing her own “Elizabethan Style.”

One day while inspecting a construction site, a girl approached and gave her a bouquet of flowers. The queen then distributed the flowers, one to each of the workers saying: “Let’s see if today you will work hard and well for this pay.” The men reverently placed their flower each in his own satchel, only to find, at the end of the day, a gold coin in place of the flower.

In her city Elizabeth built hostels for the poor, a hospital, a house for repentant wayward women, a free school for girls, and a hospice for abandoned children. She built bridges in dangerous places, visited and procured doctors for the ill, and endowed poor girls for the convent or for marriage. She kept a beautiful tiara and wedding dress to lend to poor brides so they could “shine” or their special day. Her goodness went as far as raising her husband’s illegitimate children.

A great devotee of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy centuries before the dogma was declared; she obtained from the bishop of Coimbra the establishment of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, which was afterwards observed with great solemnity throughout the whole country.

A constant peacemaker, the holy queen ironed out many a conflict between bellicose rulers and nobles. Twice she reconciled her husband and son, on one occasion, even interposing her person between them in the battlefield.
In the end, Dinis died a most repentant man. In one of his poems he left his ultimate tribute to his ultimate queen:

God made you without peer
In goodness of heart and speech
As your equal does not exist,
My love, my lady, I thus sing:
Had God so wished,
You’d made a great king.  

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth took the habit of a Franciscan Tertiary and retired near a convent of Poor Clares which she had built, dedicating herself to the sick and the poor.

The saintly queen died at age sixty-five invoking Our Lady, and was canonized in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII who had vowed not to canonize anyone during his pontificate. He made the exception for Elizabeth at being promptly healed of a serious illness after praying to her.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. N...

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A Young Man and His Lady Love

In twelfth century England, a group of young men had gathered and were bragging of their various feats, as young men have done since the beginning of time.

The lively conversation went from archery to sword fighting to horsemanship, each trying to outdo the accomplishments of the others.

Finally, the young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

Thomas of Canterbury meant the most holy Virgin as the object of his affection, but afterwards, he felt some remorse at having made this boast. He did not want to offend his beloved Lady in any way.

Seeing all from her throne in heaven, Mary appeared to him in his trouble, and with a gracious sweetness said to him: "Thomas, what do you fear? You had reason to say that you loved me, and that you are beloved by me. Assure your companions of this, and as a pledge of the love I bear you, show them this gift that I make you."

The gift was a small box, containing a chasuble, blood-red in color. Mary, for the love she bore him, had obtained for him the grace to be a priest and a martyr, which indeed happened, for he was first made priest and afterwards Bishop of Canterbury, in England.

Many years later, he would indeed be persecuted by the king, and Thomas fled to the Cistercian monastery at Pontignac, in France.

Far from kith and kin, but never far from his Lady Love, he was attempting to mend his hair-cloth shirt that he usually wore and had ripped. Not being able to do it well, his beloved queen appeared to him, and, with special kindness, took the haircloth from his hand, and repaired it as it should be done.

After this, at the age of 50, he returned to Canterbury and died a martyr, having been put to death on account of his zeal for the Church.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

The young men began to boast of some foolish love affairs. Not to be outdone by his peers, a noble youth named Thomas declared that he, too, loved a great lady, and was beloved by her.

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