INSTRUCTION ON THE FESTIVAL OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR
At the Introit the Church
sings the words which were spoken by the angels to the apostles and
disciples, after the Ascension of our Lord:
INTROIT Ye men of Galilee, why wonder
you, looking up to heaven? allel.: He shall so come as you have seen
him going up into heaven. Allel., allel., allel. (Acts I. 11.), Oh,
clap your hands, all ye nations; shout unto God with the voice of
joy. (Ps. XLVI. 2.) Glory be to the Father, etc.
COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, O
Almighty God, that we who believe Thy only‑begotten Son, our
Redeemer, to have this day ascended into the heavens, may ourselves
also in, mind dwell amid heavenly things. Through the same
LESSON (Acts I. 1-11.) The former
treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do
and to teach , until the day on which, giving commandments by the
Holy Ghost to the apostles ,whom he had chosen, he was taken up: to
whom also he showed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs,
for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of
God. And eating together with them, he commanded them that they
should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the
promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my
mouth: for John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be
baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. They, therefore,
who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this
time restore the kingdom to Israel? But he said to diem: It is not
for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in
his own power; but you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost
coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and
in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the
earth. And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he
was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And
while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold, two men
stood by them in white garments, who also said: Ye men of Galilee,
why stand yon looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from
you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into
This gospel of St. Luke addressed to Theophilus, a Christian
of note in Antioch, contains an account of the life, sufferings, and
death of Jesus up to the time of His ascension into heaven. The
Evangelist continues his account in the Acts of the apostles,
in which he describes in simple words that which Jesus did during
the forty days following His Resurrection, and the manner in which
He ascended into heaven in the presence of His apostles. Rejoice
that Christ today has entered into the glory gained by His
sufferings and death, and pray: I rejoice, O King of heaven and
earth, in the glory Thou bast this day attained in heaven. Sing to
God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord: sing ye to God,
who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east. Give ye glory
to God for Israel, his magnificence and his power is in the clouds.
God is wonderful in his saints, the God of Israel is he who will
give power and strength to his people, blessed be God. (Ps.LXVII.
XVI. 14-20.) At that time, Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were
at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness
of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after
he was risen again. (And he said to them: Go ye into the whole
world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth
and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be
condemned: And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my
name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues;
they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly
thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon
the sick; and they shall recover.) And the Lord Jesus after he had
spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right
hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere, the Lord
working withal, and confirming the word with signs that
The part of this gospel
which is within the marks of parenthesis, is the gospel for the
feast of St: Francis Xavier.
Why did Christ
say to His apostles: Go ye into the whole world and preach the
gospel to all creatures?
To show that no one is to
assume the office of preaching, but must look for his mission
from the lawful pastors of the Church. And when Christ sends His
apostles into the whole worlds to all nations without exception, He
shows His willingness to save all men. If the designs of God are not
fulfilled, the blame is not to be attributed to God, but to man, who
either does not accept the doctrine of the gospel, or accepting,
does not live in accordance with it, or else renders himself by his
obduracy in vice, unworthy of the gospel.
without good works sufficient for salvation?
No, faith that is not active
in love, not fruitful in good works, and therefore not meritorious,
(Gal. V. 6.) is not sufficient for salvation. "Such faith,"
says St. Anselm, "is not the faith of a Christian, but the faith of
the devil." Only he who truly believes in Christ and His doctrine,
and lives in accordance with it, will be saved.
Is ours then
the true faith since all the faithful do not work miracles; as
Christ has predicted?
St. Gregory very beautifully
replies to this question: "Because the Redeemer said that true faith
would be accompanied by miracles, you must not think that you
have not the faith, because these signs do not follow; these
miracles had to be wrought in the beginning of the Church, because
faith in her had to be increased by these visible signs of divine
power." And even now when such signs are necessary for the
propagation of the faith, and victory over unbelief, God gives His
faithful power to work them.
wrought now in the Catholic Church?
Yes, for there have been at
all times saints in the Church, who, as seen from their lives, have
wrought miracles, on account of their faith, which even the heretics
cannot deny; for instance St. Francis Xavier, who in the sight of
the heathens, raised several dead persons to life. In a spiritual
manner all pious Catholics still work such miracles; for, as St.
Chrysostom says, "they expel devils when they banish sin, which is
worse than the devil; they speak new tongues when they converse no
longer on vain and sinful things, but on those which are spiritual
and heavenly." "They take up serpents," says St. Gregory, "when by
zealous exhortations they lift others from the shame of vice,
without being themselves poisoned; they drink deadly things without
being hurt by them, when they hear improper conversation without
being corrupted or led to evil; they lay their hands upon the sick
and heal them, when they teach the ignorant, strengthen by their
good example those who are wavering in virtue, keep the sinner from
evil, and similar things." Strive to do this upon all occasions, O
Christian, for God willingly gives you His grace and you will thus
be of more use to yourself and others, and honor God more than by
working the greatest miracles.
Where and how
did Christ ascend into heaven?
From Mount Olivet where His
sufferings began, by which we learn, that where our crosses and
afflictions begin which we endure with patience and resignation,
there begins our reward. Christ ascended into heaven by His own
power, because He is God, and now in His glorified humanity He sits
at the right hand of His Father, as our continual
presence did Christ ascend into heaven?
In the presence of His
apostles, and many of His disciples, whom He had previously
blessed, (Luke XXIV. 51.) and who, as St. Leo says, derived
consoling joy from His ascension. Rejoice, also, O Christian foul,
for Christ has today opened heaven for you, and you may enter it, if
you believe in Christ, and live in accordance with that faith. St.
Augustine says: "Let us ascend in spirit with Christ, that when His
day comes, we may follow with our body.
Yet you must know, beloved
brethren, that not pride, nor avarice, nor impurity, nor any other
vice ascends with Christ; for with the teacher of humility pride
ascends not, nor with the author of goodness, malice, nor with the
Son of the Virgin, impurity. Let us then ascend with Him by
trampling upon our vices and evil inclinations, thus building a
ladder by which we can ascend; for we make a ladder of our sins to
heaven when we tread them down in combating them:"
ASPIRATION O King of glory! O powerful
Lord! who hast this day ascended victoriously, above all heaven,
leave us not as poor orphans; but send us, from the Father, the
Spirit of truth whom Thou hast promised. Alleluia.
Why is the paschal candle
extinguished after the gospel on this day?
To signify that Christ, of
whom the candle is a figure, has gone from His disciples.
INSTRUCTION ON MIRACLES
And these signs shall
follow them that believe.(Mark XVI. 17.)
What is a
A miracle, as defined by St.
Thomas of Aquin, is anything beyond the ordinary, fixed state
of things that is done through God. Thus when the sun stands still
in his course, when thousands are fed with five loaves and two small
fishes, when by a word or simple touch the dead are raised to life,
the blind see, and the deaf hear, these are things contrary to
nature, and are miracles which can only be performed by God or those
persons to whom God has given the power.
That God can work miracles,
cannot be denied. God has made the laws of nature, and at any time
it pleases Him, He can suddenly suspend them, and that God has at
times done so, we have more solid and undeniable proofs, than we
have for the most renowned and best authenticated facts of history,
far more witnesses testify to miracles, the whole world has believed
them, and been converted by them; more than eleven millions of
martyrs have died to confirm and maintain their truth; no one gives
up his life for lies and deceptions; the Jews and pagans have
admitted them, but ascribed them to witchcraft and the power of
demons rather than to God; by this they proved and acknowledged the
truth of miracles, because in order to deny them, they were driven
to false and absurd explanation of them.
Can men work
No; only God works miracles
through man to whom He gives the power. The history of the Christian
Church in all ages bears testimony, that men have wrought miracles
in the name of Jesus, as, for example, the apostles and the
Can miracles be
worked by the relics of saints, pictures, &e.?
The Church, in the Council of
Trent, solemnly declares, that we are never to believe that there is
in any picture or relic any hidden power by which a miracle can, be
worked, and that we are not to honor or ask any such thing of them.
Therefore no miracle can ever be worked by them, but God can perform
miracles through them, and He has done so, as the holy Scriptures
and the history of the Church of Christ both prove. But when through
certain pictures (usually called miraculous pictures) miracles do
take place, that no deception may occur, the Church commands that
such a picture shall not be exposed for the veneration of the
faithful, until the truth of the miracles performed is by a rigorous
examination established beyond doubt; she then causes such pictures
to be respectfully preserved as monuments of the goodness and
omnipotence of God.
Why are there
not so many miracles in our ties as there were in the first days of
Because the Church is no
longer in need of such extraordinary testimony to the truth of
her teachings. Thus St. Augustine writes: "He who in the face of the
conversion of the world to Christianity demands miracles, and
strives to doubt those which have been wrought in favor of this most
wonderful change, is himself an astonishing miracle of irrationality
and stupidity;" and St. Chrysostom says: "The question is sometimes
asked: How happens it there are not so many miracles now‑a‑days? The
answer is, because the knowledge of Christ is propagated all over
the earth, and the Church is like a tree which, having once taken
deep root and grown to a certain height, no longer needs to be
carefully watered and