This coming week brings a liturgically packed schedule. According to our beautiful Roman tradition we have the Minor Rogation Days and we have feast of the Ascension and its Vigil.
The Minor Rogation Days, which involve processions about the boundaries of parishes and towns with the singing of litanies, invokes God’s protection against disasters as well as His continuing blessings. The practice started in France after a series of earthquakes and other calamities. Apparently, it worked. Pope St Leo III (d 816) incorporated these days into the Roman calendar.
The Ascension of our Lord – which ought to be celebrated on Thursday – should put us on our knees to raise our thoughts to the indestructible bond that now exists between God’s divinity and our humanity. What Our Lord took to Himself in the incarnation will never not be also His own.
Speaking of Pope Leo but another Leo, “the Great” Leo and the first of His name (d 461), here is a part of a sermon on the Ascension of the Lord (s. 73.3-4) which he preached in St Peter’s Basilica:
It was certainly a great and indescribable source of joy when, in the sight of the heavenly multitudes, the nature of our human race ascended over the dignity of all heavenly creatures. It passed the angelic orders and was raised beyond the heights of archangels. In its ascension, our human race did not stop at any other height until this same nature was received at the seat of the eternal Father. Our human nature, united with the divinity of the Son, was on the throne of His glory. The ascension of Christ is not elevation. Hope for the body is also invited where the glory of the Head preceded us. Let us exalt, dearly beloved, with worthy joy and be glad with a holy thanksgiving. Today we not only are established as possessors of paradise, but we have even penetrated the heights of the heavens in Christ.
The indescribable grace of Christ, which we lost through the ill will of the Devil, prepared us more fully for that glory. Incorporated within Himself, the Son of God placed those whom the violent enemy threw down from the happiness of our first dwelling at the right hand of the Father. The Son of God lives and reigns with God the Father almighty and with the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
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