Eastertide

The Great 50 Days [after Easter] (originally called the Pentecost) were at first far more important than the 40 days of Lent. It is perplexing why modern Christians concentrate on Lent, the season of sorrow, rather than on Easter, the season of joy. Augustine tells us, “These days after the Lord’s resurrection form a period, not of labor, but of peace and joy. That is why there is no fasting, and we pray standing, which is a sign of resurrection. This practice is observed at the altar on all Sundays, and the Alleluia is sung, to indicate that our future occupation is to be no other than the praise of God.”

—James F. White, Introduction To Christian Worship, 61-62

Another Comforter (6)

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Amen.

Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you.

—prayers attributed to St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

Ascended on High! (2)

This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His nativity would have come to nothing… and His passion would have borne no fruit for us, and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.

—Augustine

TODAY is Ascension Day

This Sunday the event will be celebrated in many churches, but today is the day! (40 days after Easter) Too often we rush past Easter and neglect this crucial, climactic, culminating event in the earthly ministry of Jesus (and transition to His continuing ministry).

The ascension of Jesus is His going back to the Father to prepare a place for us. It is His being enthroned as King of kings at the Father’s right hand. The ascension is Jesus’ exaltation above every name that is named. The ascension is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as our eternal High Priest and mediator. The ascension is Jesus’ mandatory leaving so He can send a Comforter. The ascension is Jesus’ real absence so that he can be with us to the end of the age. It is paradoxical, it is mind-blowing, it is huge.

–Jay Wright

This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His nativity would have come to nothing… and His passion would have borne no fruit for us, and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.

–Augustine

 Completely prodigal in His love for us, the Son spent all He had. He faced complete humiliation and the dereliction of being cut off even from the sense of his Father’s presence on the cross. Then, in the ascension, He returned home, ragged from His sojourn with us. The Father embraced Him with joyful relief and acceptance, enfolding the Son’s humanity into the robes of His presence.

–Gerritt Dawson

The Wonder of the Incarnation

He it is by whom all things were made,
And who was made One of all things.

Who is the Revealer of the Father,
The Creator of the mother.

The Son of God by the Father without a mother,
The Son of man by the mother without a father;

The Word who is God before all time,
The Word made flesh at a fitting time;

Ordering all the ages from the bosom of the Father,
Hallowing a day of today from the womb of the mother;

Remaining in the Father,
Coming forth from the mother;

Author of the heaven and the earth;
Sprung under the heaven out of the earth;

Unutterably wise,
In his wisdom a babe without utterance;

Filling the world,
Lying in a Manger.

–Augustine

Resurrection

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion. Where is death? Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.”

— Augustine, from Sermon 233