On May 29, throughout the archdiocese, we will commemorate Our Lord’s ascension into heaven.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 665-667) says, “Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11). Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
Catholic families have a number of ways to celebrate in their domestic churches.
“When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
Lay out a picnic blanket and read Acts 1:6-12. It’s short enough that even the smallest kids will be able to handle it, and this will prepare them for Mass. (This is the first reading for the Solemnity.) Invite your older kids to participate in a Lectio Divina of sorts, placing themselves into the story as they stare up into the sky.
If your children are more interested in creative outlets than contemplative ones, encourage them to show you what they think they would have seen at Jesus’ ascension. Simple drawings will do, but puffy paint or cotton balls make for great clouds.
Jump and reach for the sky
Melanie P. has an idea for those with rambunctious saints: “Have them dress like Jesus, get a trampoline and whoever jumps highest, wins.”
Attend Mass or spend time in Adoration on Thursday, May 26
The Ascension takes place 40 days after Easter, which is always a Thursday. In 1999, The USCCB decreed that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. However, if you can spend some time with Our Lord truly present on that 40th day, Adoration will always provide you with extra graces. A list of parishes with Adoration available can be found at https://www.archmil.org/Parishes/Find-a-Devotion.htm.
Take some time to reflect on the glorious mysteries. If your children are too wiggly to make it through the whole five decades, skip to the second mystery: the Ascension. When reflecting on the Ascension, we are called to meditate on our desire for heaven. End your decade with the following: “Lord, we desire union with you in heaven. May we lead one another to your Sacred Heart.”
Begin a Novena
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Blessed Mother and the disciples waited together and prayed for nine days, after which the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost. We commemorate this time of prayer and waiting by asking the Holy Spirit to bless Our Church and us as individuals. Formal options are available through PrayMoreNovenas.com (https://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit), EWTN.com (https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/novena-to-the-holy-spirit-for-the-seven-gifts-309), and the Hallow app. Young children can simply pray a “Glory Be” each day for nine days or use the following prayer:
O Holy Spirit, who descended upon the Apostles and filled them with power and wisdom, watch over me and guide me in all my thoughts and acts. Never let me forget to call on you whenever I need help. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, come into our hearts, shed the brightness of your light on all nations, that they may be one in faith and pleasing to You.
From: “All Day With God” by Blanche Jennings Thompson
Visit Holy Hill and bring a picnic
Our Lord was taken up from the Mount of Olives, so it is traditional to have a picnic lunch on a hill in many European nations. To further drive home the theme of Ascension, many will eat poultry — some vegetarians will eat bread shaped like birds. Bring a picnic lunch with you or order from the Holy Hill cafe. If you’re not too afraid of heights, take a trip up the scenic tower.