Engaging Faith | Fri, May 22, 2009
Ascension of the Lord
Thursday, May 21, or Sunday, May 24, 2009
[depending on your diocese or country]
Ephesians 1:17-23 or Ephesians 4:1-13 or Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
May 22: International Day for Biological Diversity http://www.cbd.int/idb/2009/
May 25: Memorial Day Observed in the United States
May 31: Pentecost
The true apostle is first of all a person who is "tuned in," a servant ready for God's action.
John Paul II Athens, May 5, 2001
Look about you with Christ's eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? ... We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.
Benedict XVI, Address to Young People and Seminarians, 19 April 2008
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.
Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes
Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God's plan. .... A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.
John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte
We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus - in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming us and the world.
Miriam Therese Winter, MMS
Thoughts for your consideration
In the first reading the followers of Jesus look toward heaven.
The angels ask them "Why?" It is as if the angles are saying:
"Why don't you just look around and see?"
Look around and you will see the presence of Christ.
Look around and you will hear the call of God.
Look around and you will know the Power of the Spirit.
Look around and you will be empowered.
Look around and you will be filled with a new vision.
You will see Christ in the people of the world.
You will be involved in the struggle for justice and peace.
You will be led into life and grace.
God dwells in the world.
The Ascension experience ultimately sends the followers of Jesus into the world to "find God in all things." The spirituality of Christ is not a spirituality that looks to get out of the world and its challenges. The spirituality of Christ is a spirituality connected to the world around us - the world of people and nature - a world with rich and poor, men and women, young and old, nature and grace, conflict and reconciliation, war and peace, -- a world that struggles with difficult questions - the war on terrorism - the policy questions about immigrants - the quest for an end to violence in the Darfur region or Afghanistan or Haiti - the challenge of providing excellent educational opportunities for all of our children - the desire for justice tax policies - the need to pay all workers a living wage - the challenges of dealing with the recession.
The disciples are sent out not with a rigid ideology or a fully spelled out set of rules, but rather with a spirit - a spirit of openness - a spirit that proclaims "repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations' - a spirit that seeks to bring justice and peace to the world.
Even though our world today is different than the world of 2000 years ago, Christ can still be found. Christ is still alive and present. The Ascension is the key that allows all this to happen. As Jesus says: "It is better for you that I go, for if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will sent him to you." (John 16:7) Catholic Social Teaching affirms and supports our involvement with all the richness, diversity, and mystery of human life. We can "find God in all things." We can put out faith into practice in the midst of the world today. We have something to say wherever there are challenges and struggles for what is right and good.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
How have you been surprised by the presence of God today? In your life history, in what situation did you most powerfully experience the surprising presence of God?
What is the Spirit saying to us as we deal with the economic issues of our world? What is the spirit saying to us as we deal with unemployment and the slowing economy?
Actions - Links
The organization Women Thrive Worldwide is advocating for reform in the use of our foreign aid, especially in how it impacts women and their families.
Investing in women and girls is one of the most efficient use of our foreign assistance dollars and best ways to make the world more peaceful and prosperous. Decades of research and experience prove that women are more likely to invest their income in food, clean water, education, and health care for their children, creating a positive cycle of change that lifts entire families, communities and nations out of poverty. Simply put, when women thrive, we all do.
Over a billion people worldwide live on a dollar a day or less - and women are most likely to be among them. This is a problem that affects all of humanity - when women are poor, entire communities suffer because they are not free to earn an income, feed their families, or protect themselves and their children from violence.
Learn more and sign their petition at:
The Alliance for Excellent Education reports that "Over a million of the students who enter ninth grade each fall fail to graduate with their peers four years later. In fact, about seven thousand students drop out every school day." http://www.all4ed.org/files/GraduationRates_FactSheet.pdf
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Come Holy Spirit, guide us on the road to justice.
For the grace to find God in the challenges and problems of life, we pray....
For immigrants and refugees who have come to our nation, we pray....
For the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Darfur, Haiti, and other troubled lands, we pray....
For the people of our nation who are without productive work or adequate income, we pray....
For children who grow up in poverty, we pray....
For women around the world who are often the people most harmed by of economic recession, we pray....
For our political leaders, that they may always seek the common good and the needs of the poor, we pray....
Prayer - Meditation
The following prayer for the Feast of the Ascension is from the "This is Church" website:
Christ, let me see You in others
Christ, let others see You in me
Christ, let me see.
You are the caller,
You are the poor,
You are the stranger
At the door.
You are the wanderer,
You are the homeless
With no bed.
You are the man
You are the child
Crying in pain.
You are the other
Who comes to me.
Open my eyes that
I may see.
The feast of the Ascension reminds us to "find God in all things" and not just stare up to heaven to find God in some other place. Along these lines you might find "Examen of Consciousness: Finding God in All Things, A popular Method of Prayer from St. Ignatius and his Followers" by Phyllis Zagano to be helpful. The article from the Catholic Update Series can be found at: http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0303.asp