"He Ascended into Heaven . . ."

In celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, Catholics proclaim the great promise of Christ: Our final end, if it is to be with God, will not be as mere souls, but as souls reunited with our bodies—then glorified.

After all, to be human means to have a body and a soul. To be fully human in Christ does require us to choose being one or the other. Christ, the firstfruits, shows us His promise for the human race in his own Resurrection and Ascension: The reunification of body and soul, joined in perfection.

This is why we Catholics do not reject the material world. We don’t see it as something from which we must escape. From the beginning, the Church has fought tendencies that would spiritualize the faith. The material world means something, because God Himself brought it into existence.

For the Catholic ecologist, the Ascension is a time to reflect with renewed vigor the importance of creation, and our need to nurture and steward it.

As the opening prayer at the Vigil Mass said so clearly this evening,

God our Father,
make us joyful
in the ascension of your Son Jesus Christ.
May we follow him into the new creation,
for his ascension is our glory and our hope.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And so, onward we go in the hope of being part of that new creation. Our duty, as the Gospel for this Feast reminds us, is to “Go” and make disciples, knowing that Christ will be with His church always, until the end of time. This means we can not wait idly for Christ’s promised return. We must be active in this world, in this fallen created order, so that by whatever grace-filled efforts we may offer, we can invite into this great drama as many souls as we can. And while we’re at it, we must also steward and nurture as much of God’s green earth that we can—that is, the ecosystem that he bothered to create in the beginning.

Because all things begin with prayer, here are two favorites for this Feast from the New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book

O Lord,
Your Ascension into heaven
marks the culmination of the Paschal Mystery,
and it contains an important teaching for us.
May we live life as an earthly reality
and develop our human potential to the fullest.
May we make use of the results of science
to achieve a better life on this planet.
But in our best moments
we know that there must be more
than all of this,
a transcending Reality.
As Christians, we know that this Reality
is Your loving Father
Who awaits us with You and the Holy Spirit.
Where You have gone,
we ultimately will come - if we are faithful.
O Lord Jesus,
I adore You,
Son of Mary,
my Savior and my Brother,
for You are God.
I follow You in my thoughts,
O firstfruits of our race,
as I hope one day by Your grace
to follow You in my person
into heavenly glory.
In the meantime,
do let me neglect the earthly task
that You have given me.
Let me labor diligently
all my life
with a greater appreciation for the present.
Let me realize
that only by accomplishing
true human fulfillment
can I attain Divine fulfillment
and ascend to You at the completion of my work.

If you like Catholic Ecology,
you’ll love…

A Printer's Choice

The sci-fi novel with a Catholic twist.

A Printer's Choice

Learn more

About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.