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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

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DAILY QUOTE for December 9, 2019

Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained b...

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December 9

 

Happiness is secured through virtue;
it is a good attained by man’s own will.

St. Thomas Aquinas


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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

Inspired by a sermon on the virtue of chastity, they mutuall...

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St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

Juan Diego was born in Cuautlitlán – today part of Mexico City – in the year 1474 and given the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" or "Eagle that speaks". He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced indigenous groups living in the Anáhuac Valley.

In 1524, at fifty years of age, Juan Diego was baptized with his wife Maria Lucia by one of the first Franciscan missionaries to arrive in Mexico, Fray Pedro de Gante. His religious fervor, his simple artlessness, and his respectful but gracious demeanor are among his defining characteristics. It is said that after their baptism, he and his wife, inspired by a sermon on the virtue of chastity, mutually decided to embrace this evangelical counsel by living celibately afterwards. After the 1529 death of his wife, Juan Diego moved to be near his aged uncle Juan Bernardino in Tolpetlac. Thereafter, the pious widower was in the habit of walking to the Franciscan mission at Tlatelolco for religious instruction and to perform his religious duties. His frequent journeys took him close by the hill at Tepeyac.

At daybreak on Saturday, December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass as usual, when he suddenly heard the exquisite sound of many birds singing. The beautiful melody came from higher up the hill, and thinking himself transported to heaven, his whole being attracted by the sound, he let it draw him up the Tepeyac. When the birdsongs suddenly ceased, he heard his name called in his native Náhuatl language and he beheld a beautiful young maiden. She called him to come closer and Juan Diego, “filled with admiration for the way her perfect grandeur exceeded all imagination,” prostrated himself in her presence. With unutterable sweetness, she revealed her identity to him “… the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.” She asked him to go to the bishop in Mexico City, Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga, and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out abundant graces upon those who invoked her.

After some difficulty in gaining admission to the bishop, the humble messenger recounted the marvels he had witnessed and delivered the lady’s message. However, the prelate’s response was discouraging and Juan Diego left downcast and disappointed.

The Queen of Heaven was waiting for him at the top of Tepeyac on his return that evening, and casting himself down he told her of his heart’s sorrow at meeting with incredulity on the part of the bishop and adds: “I beg you, my Lady, Queen, my little girl, to have one of the nobles who are held in esteem, one who is known, respected, honored, [have him] carry, take your dear breath, your dear word, so that he will be believed. Because I am really [just] a man from the country, I am a [porter’s] rope … a man of no importance: I myself need to be led, carried on someone’s back. That place you are sending me to is a place where I’m not used to going or spending any time in, my little Virgin, my Youngest Daughter, my Lady, Little girl.”

With great gentleness, she tells him that he is the one that must carry out this commission. And Juan Diego promises that he will return to the bishop the following day with her request.

Despite the obstacles posed by the bishop’s attendants, Juan Diego was again admitted into his presence. Don Juan de Zumárraga questioned the Indian kneeling before him thoroughly but remained unmoved by the man’s account. Not on his word alone would he believe, he told him, a sign must be given to prove that the apparition was indeed from heaven.

Undaunted by the prelate’s request, he returns to Tepeyac to convey it to Our Lady, who asks him to return in the morning that she might give it to him. During the night, however, Juan Diego’s sick uncle worsens and it is clear that he is dying. Shortly after midnight, his nephew sets off for Tlatilolco to summon one of the priests that he might confess and prepare for death.

Not wanting to meet the beautiful Lady, who would surely want to send him to the bishop with the “proof” he had requested, he hurried along, set on his task. But the Queen of Heaven came down to meet him and gently chiding him she asked, “What is happening, youngest and dearest of all my sons? Where are you going, where are you headed?” Humbling himself before her, he told her of his uncle’s grave illness and his need for a priest to assist him. She assured him that the illness was not grave and that he had nothing to fear on that account. Her solicitude filled him with joy and consolation: “Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you; do not let your uncle’s illness pressure you with grief, because he will not die of it now. You may be certain that he is already well…” And, as they later found out, his uncle became well at that very moment.

Full of confidence, Juan Diego begged her to send him immediately to the bishop with the sign she had promised. The Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find there. He obeyed, and although it was winter time and the frost at that time of year was very harsh, he found flowers of many kinds, in full bloom. Astonished, he cut and gathered the fragrant blossoms and took them to Our Lady who carefully arranged them in his mantle – the rough-woven “tilma” worn by his people – and told him to take them to the bishop as "proof". When he opened his tilma to show the bishop the profusion of blooms, the flowers fell to the ground, and there remained impressed upon his cloak an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Mexico City and canonized by him on July 31, 2002.

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Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee...

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Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.

Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.

Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.   Amen

By Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

 

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