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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Fr. Campbell, “Looking up to Heaven” (Acts 1:11)

Fr. Campbell, “Looking up to Heaven” (Acts 1:11)

Today the Paschal Candle disappears from the sanctuary until the Easter Vigil in 2019. On the Feast of the Ascension the Paschal Candle is extinguished after the Gospel, to remind us that Jesus has ascended to the Father, and will no longer be seen on this earth, until He comes again to judge the living and the dead. But He has not left us alone and desolate. He has sent us another Advocate, the Holy Ghost, Whom we call the Paraclete, the Consoler. 

 

In spite of being companions and disciples of Jesus for three years, the disciples were not yet prepared to go out and preach the Gospel to the whole world. They did not yet have the courage of their convictions. But after they prayed the Church’s first novena of nine days, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, beginning on this day of Our Lord’s Ascension, they received Power from on high, the Holy Ghost, with His abundant gifts. With the challenges to our Faith we see these days, we have never been more in need of this Power from on high for whom the disciples waited in the Upper Room.

If we want to stand up for what we believe and hold dear in the face of the most difficult dangers and challenges, we must unite in spirit with the Church today as she begins her Novena to the Holy Ghost, which leads up to the feast of Pentecost.

The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, does not draw attention to Himself, but to the Second Person, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who promised His Church:

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you… [W]hen… the Spirit of truth has come, he will teach you all the truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he will hear he will speak, and the things that are to come he will declare to you. He will glorify me, because he will receive of what is mine, and will declare it to you” ((Jn.14:26; 16:13-15).

But the Son, in turn, attributes nothing to Himself: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever he does, this the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself does” (Jn.5:19,20).

From the Father and the Son, loving one another, a Third Person appears, the Spirit of Love, the Holy Ghost. This is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, three Persons in One God, loving one another in perfect self-giving. If we truly love God, we are also made sharers in this love, and become channels of God’s love towards our neighbors. This is why St. Peter, the first Vicar of Christ, says in the Epistle today:

“Beloved: Be prudent and watchful in prayers. But above all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves; for charity covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without murmuring. According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as with words of God. If anyone ministers, let it be as from the strength that God furnishes; that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ our Lord” (1Pet.4:7-11).

St. James adds his words of advice:

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient until it receives the early and the late rain. Do you also be patient; strengthen your hearts; for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain against one another, brethren that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge is standing at the door. Take, brethren, as an example of labor and patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call them blessed who have endured” (Jas.5:7-10).

St. James again:

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been tried, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him” (Jas.1:12).