By: Sister Anita Mary, O.C.D.
Some years ago, we had the privilege of having Bishop Robert Barron at our Motherhouse on the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption. At Mass, he began his homily by describing how Christians tend to think of the feasts of the Assumption and the Ascension. We celebrate these events by which Our Lady and Our Lord were taken “up, up, and away” from us. He asserted that this could not be further from the truth. Our Lady was assumed into Heaven and took her place in eternity as Queen of Heaven. Our Lord, at His Ascension, took His place at the right hand of the Father. Far from being “away” and distant from us, they are closer to us than they were during their earthly life.
Our Lord, by His Resurrection, is no longer bound by space and time. He is near us, yes, each of us, at every moment. And not only near us but within us by grace! And, having ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, He, as our holy mother St. Teresa says in her treatise on the Our Father, cannot reside in a soul without bringing with Him all of Heaven:
“Do you suppose, daughters, that He is alone when He comes to us? Do you not see that His most holy Son says: “Who art in the Heavens”? Surely such a King would not be abandoned by His courtiers. They stay with Him and pray to Him on our behalf and for our welfare, for they are full of charity.”
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity speaks similarly: “It seems to me that I have found my heaven on earth, because my heaven is you, my God, and you are in my soul.”
Yet, in this valley of tears, Heaven can seem so distant. We know of so much sorrow and pain. Our pilgrimage to the homeland may often feel without end or relief, and some forms of suffering may be more unspeakable than others. The reality is that the most unbearable wounds are simply our own because no one else can experience them. And this may be among the most difficult experiences – to feel abandoned by the One knows us through and through, who alone can and will bear our burdens.
In faith, we are invited to celebrate! He who has ascended has not left us alone but has indeed drawn nearer to us while simultaneously taking our wounds into His. The One who sits at the right hand of the Father says to you, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). Trust in His promise that when you join Him, you will see your wounds revealed in His radiant glory.