THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Sunday after the Ascension
24 May 2020
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Our faith has taken us from the humbling Incarnation to the glorious Ascension of Jesus. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary when God became Man. Again, we see that angels were present when the Apostles saw Jesus ascend into Heaven.
During Our Lord's human life on this earth, He humbled Himself, setting aside the Divinity and taking up our humanity. God allowed Himself to be seen, to be heard, and to be touched by those in the world. In the Gospels, a great part of the time we see that He is proving over and over that He is truly Human He is real flesh and blood.
After we come to the faith in Jesus' humanity, He begins to physically withdraw from us, so that we might grow and mature spiritually. There appears to be a common defect in men. When physical things are easily available to us they lose much of their attractiveness. If we have one coin it is precious to us, but when we have a thousand coins the one is not so dear to us. The same effect, a kind of inflation and devaluation, happens to us in the spiritual realm. When Jesus physically walked this earth, the people of Jerusalem had no appreciation for Him. They saw Him as the carpenter's son. They knew His mother and His relatives. He was too familiar to them. It seems the more they knew of His physical Being, the less they understood of His Spiritual Being.
The Apostles and the Disciples were given ample proofs of His Humanity, but not allowed to become so familiar as to lose respect and reverence for Him. Jesus has gradually distanced His Humanity from them so that He might draw even closer to them in His Divinity.
It must be the same with us. In our spiritual infancy, the Faith comes to us in very physical or material ways. We come to know God through the physical creation all around us. As we mature in the Faith we begin to see the reflection of God in His creatures. We appreciate the reflection of God in them as well as in ourselves. The simply material view of the world and all that is in it soon yields to the view and understanding of the beauty, the order, the harmony, the wisdom and power hidden within the material creation. This leads us to the better contemplation and understanding of God. Gradually the physical perceptions and pleasure fades away to give way to increasingly spiritual perceptions and pleasures.
We might witness this spiritual growth by observing our prayers and what we pray for. In the beginning of our faith, we pray for increase in material things, health, money, power, reputation. If we advance, we begin to beg God for happiness, peace, the courage to carry our cross willingly and cheerfully. Then we might ask for greater love, greater consolation in our prayers. Ultimately, God would have us forget this world, or as St. Paul tells us to use the things of this world as if we did not use them. To let go of all attachment to the things of this world even to ourselves. We no longer seek to receive from God. Everything is already taken care of. God gives us what we need. In both times of plenty and in times of scarcity, we are given what we need by a loving Father in Heaven. In our souls the height of our prayers or even the point of perfection, is when we no longer seek to receive, but rather, to give. God would have us advance in our prayers to the point when we offer ourselves to Him without any reserve.
Mary gives us the perfect example in her "Fiat." Be it done to me according the Thy Word. When we understand and believe that we are to give ourselves over completely to God. We are His creatures; we must put ourselves at His disposal. Yes, we will find true happiness and peace in denying ourselves and conforming ourselves to His Will, but this is not even our pursuit or goal. Having died to ourselves and our desires, we must live only for Him.
As we stand with the Apostles watching Jesus disappear from our physical view, we must also, like them, seek an increasing vison or understanding of His Divinity as well as our own spirituality. When we can forget ourselves to think only of Him, when we die to this world to live only for Him, when we sacrifice our wills for His Holy Will; then, we truly begin to live the life we have been created to live. We are then truly alive, our wills are then not dead or imprisoned but are now really free.
The saints in Heaven behold the Divinity and true reality. The physical world is good and beautiful, but it is only a reflection or a sample of what exists in the spiritual realm. This is what Jesus taught us and is leading us to, if we will only follow Him. It is hard to daily deny ourselves, to take up our crosses, and follow Him because we are still infants or children in our understanding and faith. Our spiritual life has not yet fully developed in any significant way. Denying our own wills to do the Will of God should be as easy and painless as it would be to exchange a penny for a hundred dollars. Who would hesitate to make this exchange? Who would ever regret it? Who would ever look back to reconsider it?
Now is the season for us to put away the things of children and advance in the ways of maturity. We must outgrow the need of material things we can see, touch, and hear with our physical bodies, and seek out the invisible God. The eternal living God is the Creator of this material world, but even greater than this; He is the Creator of the Spiritual world. As the eyes of our bodies grow dim and our physical hearing fades, and the pleasures of the flesh dull, it is time to see with the eyes of our souls, to hear with the ears of True Faith, and experience the true pleasures of the soul. It is time lovingly to lose ourselves in Him.
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