It was only after having read Fr. Rolheiser's book, “The Holy Longing" that I was able to have a more real practical understanding of The Feast of The Ascension. He points that the Ascension is another stop along the road to a fuller understanding of what the Paschal Mystery really means for you and I. I just love the way he describes the three days of The Tridium and beyond. He says .."the Paschal cycle might be diagrammed as follows;
I Good Friday....."the loss of life ---real death"
2. Easter Sunday.... "the reception of new life"
3. The Forty Days...... " a time for readjustment to the new and for grieving the old"
4. Pentecost..............." the reception of new spirit for the new life that one is already living"
Put into a more colloquial language and stated as a personal, paschal challenge for each of us, one might recast the diagram this way:
1... "Name your deaths"
2.....”Claim your births"
3.....”Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality"
4......”Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessings"
5......"Accept the spirit of the life you are in fact living.'
This cycle in NOT something that we must undergo just once, at moment of our deaths, when we lose our earthly lives as we know them. It is rather something we must undergo daily, in every aspect of our lives. ...The paschal mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it. ...Our happiness, peace, and maturity depend upon appropriating properly this mystery in our lives. Unless we die in infancy, we will have many deaths in our lives and within each of these we must receive new life and new spirit."
What an awe-full, wonder-full concept those words are. They are so full of hope. There are also words of warning, our happiness depends on us embracing the reality of The Paschal Mystery, in the reality of our daily living. On this feast of The Ascension what are the things of yesterday, or of all the yesterdays, that we need to let go of. The risen Christ took with Him the wounds of His crucifixion. What are the wounds we are carrying that need to be united with the wounds of Christ ,and allowed to ascend into Heaven. WE must not hang on to what has been. We must take the time to grieve. This is not what we do very well grieve. We want it over and done with. We know now grieving is a PROCESS, and it does not only demand days and weeks, but months and years. Words are poor vehicles to describe the pain and sorrow I have seen in people’s lives because the process was not embraced. There is a horrible price to be paid, and I am sad to say, many have paid that price. It was not necessary, but it has happened and will happen to all who deny the this process.
Again the choice between life and death is placed before us. Fullness of life is guaranteed, to us, as we embrace the reality of the mystery, that our many, many deaths are our present day participation in the dying and rising of Christ. We have died, and are dying with Christ will rise with Him. We will experience a new way of seeing, new way of living. Why? We have allowed ourselves to name the deaths, and claim the births. Our wounds are now in the presence of Our God, in the person of His beloved son. In the naming of the death, the embracing of the pain of emptiness we are creating the space for the new spirit which is on the way. More about that next week.
"Every time there are losses there are choices to be made. You choose ti live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment or you choose to let theses losses to be the passage to something new, something wider and deeper." (Henri Nouwen )