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Faithfully Celebrating Ascension Thursday

Ascension Thursday is a significant feast day in our Catholic faith that commemorates the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. It is our belief as Christians that after His resurrection, Jesus spent forty days appearing to His disciples and others, teaching them about the kingdom of God. On the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, Jesus ascended into heaven in the presence of His disciples.

The significance of Ascension Thursday lies in several aspects.  It is the completion of Jesus' earthly ministry. His work of redemption, which began with his incarnation, continued through his death, resurrection, and culminated in His ascension into heaven.

It is the assurance of the Holy Spirit.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to empower and guide them. This promise was fulfilled on Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, emboldening them to spread the message of Jesus throughout the world.

The Ascension represents the exaltation of Jesus Christ. It signifies His return to the Father and His taking His rightful place at the right hand of God. This event highlights Jesus' divinity and His victory over sin and death.

The Ascension is the continuation of Jesus' presence.  Though Jesus physically ascended into heaven, Catholics believe that He remains present with His Church in a spiritual sense. He continues to guide, protect, and intercede for His followers from His place in heaven. And as we journey through this time of Eucharistic Revival, let us also remember that Jesus is always truly with his-- body, blood, soul and divinity-- in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. 

The Ascension also emphasizes the mission of the Church to continue the work of Jesus Christ on earth. Just as Jesus entrusted His disciples with the task of spreading the Gospel, Catholics see the Ascension as a call to continue proclaiming the Good News and making disciples of all nations.

We can faithfully observe Ascension Thursday by attending Mass.  Additionally, we can spend time reading and meditating on the biblical accounts of the Ascension, particularly in the Gospels of Luke (Luke 24:50-53) and Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:6-11). Let us consider the meaning and implications of Jesus' ascension into heaven for your faith and life.  May we be thankful for Jesus' victory over sin and death and for his ongoing presence in your life and in the world. Let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the mission of the Church.

In response to Jesus' command to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), consider ways to actively participate in the mission of the Church by engaging in acts of charity and service that reflect the love and compassion of Christ to those in need.

Although Ascension Thursday marks the conclusion of the Easter season, may the joy of the Easter season continue to inspire and sustain our faith throughout the year.

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