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Archbishop Viganò: Homily on the Ascension of the Lord - Printable Version

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Archbishop Viganò: Homily on the Ascension of the Lord - Stone - 05-10-2024

Homily on the Ascension of the Lord

Taken from here.

Et inimici domini domestici ejus.
And the master’s family will be his enemies. Mt 10:36

Too often, we look at this world with the attitude and hopes of those who consider it a place of permanence rather than a passage to the heavenly goal, while we know that our pilgrimage on this earth has eternity as its inescapable destination: an eternity of bliss in the glory of Paradise or an eternity of damnation in the despair of the flames of Hell. And because of our inclination to believe in an illusory Hic manebimus optime, we consider the Ascension of Our Lord almost as an anomalous event, an abandonment on the part of the Savior who leaves us alone just forty days after His Resurrection.

The flame of the Paschal Candle that is extinguished after the chanting of the Gospel – signifying precisely the return of the Incarnate Son to the right hand of the Father – seems to us, so to speak, in contradiction with what we asked the divine Majesty a few days ago, through the Rogations: to grant, preserve and bless the fruits of the earth, to spare us from the scourge of earthquake, to ward off lightning and storm, pestilence, famine, and war.

It is difficult – we must admit this – to be able to pass through a place that we would like to be happy and prosperous, fertile and generous, serene and free of conflicts. It is even more difficult when, looking up to the sky, we often see it furrowed by trails with which evil and ruthless men poison the air we breathe, pollute fields and springs, rot or dry up crops, and even go so far as to obscure the sunlight. The inimicus homo does not only scatter the weeds where the wheat grows: he wants the weeds to be sown and cultivated, and the wheat to be uprooted and thrown into the fire; vice to triumph and virtue to be trampled underfoot; death and sickness to be celebrated, and life – even in the shrine of the womb or in the innocence of children and the weak – to be struck, scarred, amputated, and tampered with.

We remain incredulous and shocked in the face of this subversion, because we do not want to accept the idea that in addition to the hostile nature that began to exist after our fall, there has now been added the further snare of homo iniquus et dolosus, which that nature manipulates, replicates, and imitates through grotesque artificial surrogates, transgenic foods, and soulless imitations of Creation, because of the hatred that Satan nurtures towards the Creator of such gratuitous perfection.

The Lord rises from this valley of tears, ascends to heaven in jubilatione et in voce tubæ, as if the angelic hosts were happy to see the Son of God return to his place of origin, to that eternal and immutable dimension in which the Most Holy Trinity is the Only Beginning and End of the chosen spirits. But He ascends to it after He too descended propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem, becoming incarnate in the virginal womb of Mary Most Holy, taking on human nature and flesh, facing the Passion and Death on that Cross which raised Him as Pontifex futurorum bonorum (Heb 9:11), High Priest of future goods, halfway between earth and heaven, to create a mystical bridge between us and God. And that humanity assumed by Our Lord in the Incarnation is borne as the insignia of triumph of the Victor Rex in the presence of the Eternal Father, and that is why His Most Holy Body still bears the Wounds of Redemption shining.

This should help us understand two extremely important concepts. First: the meaning of our earthly life, which is a pilgrimage to eternity, an exile that we hope with God’s grace will be temporary, before returning to our true homeland. And with this conviction, we must also understand that the goods of this earth – riches, success, power, pleasures – are ballast that we must get rid of if we are to be able to ascend upwards, to soar as the biblical eagle flies towards the Divine Sun. Second: the need to treasure this exile, this pilgrimage in the desert towards the Promised Land, using the gifts and making fruitful use of the talents that the Lord has given us, not to make the distance from Heaven more comfortable and lasting, but to accumulate those spiritual treasures that neither moth nor rust consume,  and that thieves do not break in and steal (Mt 6:20).

This does not mean despising the life that Providence has given us, but rather using it for the purpose it has: the glory of God, to be obtained through our own and others’ sanctification in obedience to His will: fiat voluntas tua – we recite in the Our Father – sicut in cœlo et in terra, that is, in the perspective of the eternity that awaits us,  and in the temporality of the passing of days.

Thus, while the divine harmony of the cosmos marks the days and seasons in which the years of our earthly life unfold – and for this reason we invoke blessings from Heaven upon our harvests – in the supernatural order we have the rhythmic cadences of the Liturgy, which allow us to contemplate the divine Mysteries and to enjoy a glimpse of that eternity in which the Immaculate Lamb celebrates the heavenly Liturgy, surrounded by the hosts of Angels and Saints.

Today our soul is called to look to the Lord who goes before us to Paradise. Tomorrow, resurrected in our bodies and led to the Judgment, we will see Him return in glory: Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in cœlum, sic veniet quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cœlum (Acts 1:11) – This Jesus, who was taken up from among you into heaven, will return one day in the same way as you saw him go into heaven, say the two Angels to the Disciples. And it will be a return in which time, as we know it, will cease to be and will enter into divine eternity precisely because the consummatum est pronounced by the agonizing Savior on the Cross on Good Friday 1,991 years ago will also be valid for the world and for the whole of humanity, when it has reached the end of trial, exile, and earthly pilgrimage.

The Paschal Candle represents, as the Deacon instructs us in the solemn hymn of the Exsultet, the Lumen Christi, Christ the true Light: as the pillar of fire that preceded the Jews in crossing the Red Sea, so He also precedes us in our passage through this world, and in our flight from the wicked who pursue us. Let us pray that we may be found worthy to reach safety, lest we be swept away by the waters like Pharaoh’s soldiers. May the Most Holy Eucharist be our Viaticum, and may the Immaculate Virgin be our Star. And so may it be.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop

May 9, 2024
In Ascensione Domini