Friday, May 25, 2012

The Ascension: A Good Response

Dear Parish Faithful,

We bow in worship before Thy Passion;
we honor Thy Resurrection! 
We glorify Thy glorious Ascension!
O Lord, have mercy on us! 
(stichera - Vespers of Ascension)

A Good Response

The Vesperal Liturgy yesterday evening for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord was effective, in that there were about forty members of the parish faithful present.  And just about everyone present received Holy Communion.  This resulted in a “festal” service that was only appropriate for such an awesome feast commemorating the Lord ascending in glory.  The Afterfeast will continue through this Sunday and all the way until the Leavetaking on Friday, June 1.  As we are celebrating the Ascension we are also preparing for the Pentecost – the last and great day of the paschal-pentecostal season.

The scriptural readings for Ascension are:  The Acts of the Apostles (1:1-12); and The Gospel According to St. Luke (24:36-53).  These two passages bear a close reading if you have not read them yet.  Our focus at Sunday’s Liturgy will be the account found in the Acts of the Apostles.

I would also highly recommend an article that has become a “classic” of Orthodox theology since it was written about sixty years ago, simply entitled “The Ascension of our Lord.”  This was written by the great 20th c. theologian, Fr. George Florovsky (+1979).  It first appeared in the St. Vladimir’ Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1954.  It is now posted on our parish website here.  Or, from the parish homepage you simply click on the icon of the Ascension, and scroll down to the second article posted there. This is an article that you may even want to print and study carefully.

A scriptural passage that profoundly captures the meaning for us of the Lord’s Ascension in found in the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians.  Here the Apostle incorporates the resurrection, the ascension, the Parousia (the Second Coming of Christ), together with the effect of our baptism into Christ and ultimate glorification:

If you then have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (COL. 3:1-4)

I hope that everyone has a blessed Feast Day of the Ascension!

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