A Message from Father William

This weekend, as we prepare for the Solemnity of Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity
of the Ascension of the Lord (this past Thursday, May 13th, was the 40th day after
Easter and the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. However, the Church allows for
the Diocese of Madison and other dioceses to transfer the celebration to the following
Sunday, May 16th this year). Preparing for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Saint Leo
the Great (400-461 A.D.) reflected on the Ascension: “Today we are not only made
possessors of Paradise, but with Jesus Christ we have ascended, mystically but also
really, to Heaven, and have won through Christ a grace more wonderful than the one
we had lost.” The Ascension of Jesus strengthens and nourishes our hope of attaining
Heaven (Father Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God) – it invites us always
to lift up our hearts, as we state in the preface of the Mass, and seek the things that are
above, to have great hope because Jesus Christ has gone to prepare an eternal dwelling
place of love, peace and joy for us (John 14:1-6; Luke 24:46-53).

Jesus is in Heaven in His glorified Body, with the signs of His redemptive sacrifice,
the marks of His Passion (Revelation 5:6) – marks that Thomas could see and touch,
marks that have brought about our salvation. Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death
and awaits us in Heaven, for we are “citizens of Heaven” (Philippians 3:20) – and at the
same time we’re citizens of this earth, in the midst of difficulties, pandemics, challenges
and sorrows, but also in the midst of joy and serenity that comes from knowing that
we are children of God. Along the way, let us seek the consoling help of Jesus’ Mother,
Mary, as the Apostles did… “They returned to Jerusalem… and they prayed with one
mind… together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1-2; Saint Josemaría Escrivá,
Christ is Passing By, #126).

The hope of Heaven should fill our days with joy! Likewise, attending Mass in
person, as we’re getting past the pandemic, should fill our hearts with joy, especially
since the celebration of Holy Mass is an actual glimpse into Heaven! Jesus ascends,
yet He also wills to remain close to each of us (Matthew 28:16-20): in prayer, in His
Church, Word and Sacraments; through the communion of saints; by virtue of our
baptism, as the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwells in us; in
the Holy Eucharist, as He is substantially present in every Catholic parish tabernacle
(20 of our children made their First Holy Communion this year; please keep praying
for them and 15 of our young people who received the Sacrament of Confirmation
last Sunday, as they grow in their love for Jesus Christ and His Church). May we go
to Jesus by going to church to pray – and when we’re at work, school or home, may
we go to Him with our heart and mind by thinking of the tabernacle at church and
asking Him to sanctify and help us in our daily duties. By witnessing to His love,
mercy, peace and teachings, in our words and deeds, may we also make Him known
to others. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (May
23rd this year), may we unite in prayer to God, praying with the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Saint Joseph, Saint Clement, Saint Raphael and all the saints, striving by God’s grace,
by the strength of the Holy Spirit, to live the virtues of faith, hope and love, with great
joy. Amen. Alleluia!
With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William