"Consider not only that God your benefactor is present but also that He acts continuously in all His creatures. And for whom is this continual action, this work of God in nature? For you. Thus, He lights you by the light of day; He nourishes you with the productions of the earth; in a word, He serves you by each one of the creatures that you use; so that it is true to say that at every moment the bounty, the wisdom and the power of God are at your service and are exercised in the world for your wants or pleasures. This conduct of God toward man should be the model of your conduct toward God. You see that the presence of God in His creatures is never idle; it acts incessantly, it preserves, it governs. Beware, then, of stopping at a sterile contemplation of God present in yourself. Add action to contemplation; to the sight of the Divine presence add the faithful accomplishment of the Divine will."
—The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius p. 182
Living the Ascension Life based on Luke 24:50-52
“50And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Luke 24:50-52 ESV)
Did you ever notice we live in an upside down world? Musicians and bands want to be on the top of the charts. Elevators and escalators go up and down. People want to live in the penthouse on the uppermost floor. Students want to be at the top of their class. When the stock market rises we celebrate and when it goes down we worry and fret. I could go on and on with similar examples. The reality is that we want to live ascended lives. We want to break free from the things that hold us down, the things that bind us to the lowest level. We want to rise above it all, don’t we? There is something in us that knows that we are more than earthbound creatures. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Colossians. He said, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1 ESV). Therefore, let us never settle for a mere earthbound self-ascension, but set our minds on a Christ centered ascension.
Jesus’ ascension reshapes our understanding of what we seek. Through Jesus we are raised to new life. Through His ascension we are able to reach new heights. An Irish prayer attributed to Saint Patrick puts it this way, “As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Amen”. When we live as this prayer describes, we live the ascended life. Living an ascended life means that we ascend every day to share in Jesus’ divinity as He humbled Himself to share in our humanity, He in us and we in Him.
The Ascension life is about letting go, releasing the ups and downs of our self made world. It’s about breaking the chains of fear and doubt. It’s about breaking the chains of uncertainty. It’s about breaking the chains of resentment. If we expect to ascend with Christ, then we must first break free of our earthbound chains. Jesus can break these chains and set us free. Our participation in Jesus’ ascension begins not by looking upward, but by looking inward. As the shadows of Easter give way to the brightness of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, let us once more examine our lives and set our hearts above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.