This coming Thursday is Ascension Day, normally a Holy Day of Obligation. So, this week we will reflect on what this great day means for us. Below you will find reflections and prayers for every day.

Sunday / Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday

Ascension of Christ, Fresco by Andrea di Bonaiuto, Spanish Chapel in Santa Maria Novella Principal Dominican church in Florence, Italy

Sunday
(The apostles said) “Lord, has the time now come…”

The longest account of the Ascension itself is found in the Acts of the Apostles. You can read this in Acts 1, verses 6-11. It begins with the disciples asking the risen Christ whether or not he would restore the kingdom to Israel. In other words, they want to know what God has in mind for the future. Jesus rebukes them and tells them it’s none of their business! This desire to know what the future holds is something we all find ourselves doing now and again. We think it would make life so much easier if we knew what was coming. But this is not the way God works. God gives us the strength to cope with the present, but the future is in his hands and he asks us to trust him enough to look after us when it comes. As Jesus says, “Do not worry…each day has enough troubles of its own.” (You can find this as part of a longer passage about not worrying in Matthew chapter 6, verse 34).

Ponder: How do you view the future? Is it with fear, worry, or with a degree of calmness? (Take your time over this)

Pray: that God will grant you the faith to commit the future to him with full confidence.

Pray: for all those who are so afraid of the future that they fall to live fully in the present.

You might like to say (or sing) this prayer of praise to our ascended Lord every day this week:

Prayer for the week

Praise my soul the King of heaven,
To his feet your tribute bring,
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore his praises sing,
Praise him, praise him,
Praise the everlasting King.

Monday
(Jesus said,) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

Having ticked off the disciples for asking about the future, Jesus does what he so often does, he restores them with a word of reassurance and promise. In this unknown future they will not be alone. He promises that the power of the Holy Spirit will be with them. As we walk into the future we do not do so alone. The power of the Holy Spirit will be with us too, just as that same Spirit has led us and been with us in the past.

Ponder: Are you conscious of the Spirit at work in your past? In what way? What does this tell you about how you face the future? (take your time over this)

Pray: that you may know the power of the Spirit more fully.

Pray: for all those who have to make decisions that will affect the way we live during this pandemic, that the Spirit will guide them to make the right choices.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Tuesday
“You will be my witnesses.”

In our liturgical year, Ascension time marks the movement from Easter to the coming of the Spirit which we will celebrate soon at Pentecost. The apostles also move now from following the physical Jesus they travelled with over the years to following the risen, ascended Lord they cannot see but who calls them to continue his work and witness to him. We too are called to do this in all sorts of small but important ways, every day of our lives, both by what we say and what we do.

Ponder: how do you respond to the words “You will be my witness”? (take your time over this)

Pray: that you will do this with sincerity and faithfulness in whatever place you are.

Pray: for all those who witness to their faith in the face of difficult or dangerous situations.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Wednesday
“And a cloud took him from their sight.”

This reference to a cloud is not just descriptive. Wherever we read about clouds in the Scriptures it is almost always something to do with the awesome presence of God. For instance, Moses goes up Mount Sinai, meets with God, and the mountain is covered with cloud. Jesus himself at his transfiguration is shrouded by a cloud. So here, the cloud is a reference to the presence of God whose glory is such that it cannot be fully seen. Jesus, by entering that cloud is, therefore, returning to that glory which he had before time began. We too sometimes get glimpses of this glory, a foretaste of the glory to which God calls us.

Ponder: Where do you see signs of the glory of God. Reflect on any experience you have had when it seemed that the glory of God was so great that you could not encompass it. (take your time over this)

Pray: that you will recognise God’s goodness and glory around you.
Pray: for all those who are struggling with depression or lack of hope at this time
.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Thursday, Ascension Day
(The Angels say,)”Why are you looking into the sky?”

(Today, if you can, watch Why The Ascension Matters — Bishop Robert Barron on YouTube. It lasts about 15 minutes). Bishop Robert stresses that the Ascension, far from taking Jesus away from us, actually enables him to be closer to us because, taking our humanity with him, he unites the realm of God (heaven) and the realm of humanity (earth). This is why the angels say, “Don’t stand there looking into heaven.” God is with us.

Ponder and pray: look at the picture…

Look at the figures. Can you identify with any of them? If so why? What are they doing that resonates with you in your own friendship with Christ?

If not, what would you be doing if you were in this picture?

Speak to the Lord about this.

Pray: for Christians throughout the world as we all celebrate this feast today.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Friday
“He will come in the same way as you have seen him go”.

The Church’s year, Advent, starts not with reflection on the first coming of Jesus as the child of Bethlehem, but on his second coming as the Lord of history. The account of the Ascension which finishes the record of Jesus’ earthly life also has a reference to his coming again. What does this mean? This is about the Lord who is ruler of history. Despite all appearances to the contrary in a world of so much violence and pain, God is in control. Evil does not, and will not, have the upper hand. Our belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus helps us to live in this new reality. Evil will not have the upper hand. The kingdom of God is here, we live within it, and the second coming of Jesus will bring it to fullness.

Ponder: when you look at the world where do you see signs of the Kingdom coming? (take your time over this)

Pray: for strength to see and do what God wants from you, so that, in whatever little ways, God’s love may be seen in you.

Pray: for all those who are doing the will of God through their care of the sick or isolated during this time.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Saturday
“With one heart they joined constantly in prayer.”

A couple of verses further on from the end of the account of the Ascension, we read that the disciples remained constantly in prayer. Our reflections on the Ascension might be summarised by the phrase “going home”. Jesus goes home to the Father and he does so taking our humanity with him. We look forward to our “homeland” when, with all the saints, we shall praise God forever in the glory of his presence. But we are also called to “come home” every day to the living Christ who dwells within us so that, strengthened by the Spirit, we can be who we are truly are and doing whatever God calls us to do. This coming home is sustained by prayer, by keeping close to the Lord of history.

Ponder and pray: How is your prayer life going? Be honest! Speak to the Lord openly about your relationship with him. (take your time over this)

Pray: For the homeless and those who are separated from loved ones at this time.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Ascension
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