Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ascension Thursday


Let us reflect on the Lord’s Ascension to the right hand of the Father today. Let us pray that as Mary prayed for and with the apostles during the first novena, anticipating Pentecost, so may she pray for and with the missionaries of the world today. This reflection is from a sermon Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, gave on the Second Sunday of Advent in 2011.

One can say that Mary was the first cloistered nun of the Church. After Pentecost, she entered as if into a cloister. Through the letters of the Apostles we come to know innumerable persons and also many women of the primitive Christian community. Once we find mentioned one called Mary (cf. Romans 16:6), but this is not her. Of Mary, the mother of Jesus, nothing. She disappears in a most profound silence. But what must it have meant for John to have her by his side while he wrote the Gospel and what it might mean for us to have her close while we proclaim the Gospel! "First amongst the Gospels," writes Origen, "is that of John, the profound meaning of which cannot be understood by any who has not rested his head on the breast of Jesus and has not received Mary from Him as his proper mother."

Mary has inaugurated in the Church that second soul, or vocation, which is the hidden praying soul, together with the apostolic or active soul. It marvelously expresses the traditional icon of the Ascension, of which we have a representation to the right of this “Redemptoris Mother” chapel. Mary stands with open arms in an attitude of prayer. Around her the Apostles, all with a foot or hand elevated, that is to say in movement, they represent the Church active, missionary, which speaks and acts. Mary is motionless beneath Jesus, in the exact point from where he ascended into heaven, almost as if to preserve a living memory of Him and keep alive the hope of his return.

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