Meditations on the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ
—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).
In 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.
[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
Jesus, 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.
Prostrate 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.”
Such 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.
* 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
DAILY QUOTE for April 19, 2021
SAINT OF THE DAY
St. Alphege of Canterbury
In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others.