Sunday, May 20, 2012

Meditation for the Ascension

From the lessons for the office of matins for the Sunday after Ascension:

From the Sermons of St Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. 2nd 07i the Ascension.
Dearly beloved brethren, our Saviour is gone up from us into heaven, but let us not be troubled on earth. Let only our heart be there with Him, and we shall have peace here. Let us in heart thither ascend with Christ in the meanwhile, and when that glad day which He hath promised cometh, our body will follow. But we must know, my brethren, that there are some things that cannot ascend with Christ: pride cannot, nor covetousness, nor brutishness; no one of our diseases can ascend thither where our Healer is. And, therefore, if we would follow our Healer, we must needs leave our diseases and sins behind us. All such things tie us down, as it were, with bands, and hamper us in the meshes of a net of sins but, with God's help, we will say with the Psalmist "Let us break their bands asunder”, that we may be able honestly to say to the Lord "Thou hast loosed my bonds I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving". 

The Resurrection of the Lord is our hope the Ascension of the Lord is our glorification. Today we keep the solemn holiday of the Ascension. If, therefore, our keeping of this holiday is to be a right, faithful, earnest, holy, godly keeping, we must in mind likewise ascend, and lift up our hearts unto the Lord. When we ascend we must not be high-minded, nor flatter ourselves with our good works, as though they were our own. We must lift up our hearts unto the Lord. When man's heart is lifted up, but not unto the Lord, such lifting-up is pride; to lift up the heart unto the Lord, is to make the Most High our Refuge. Behold, my brethren, a great wonder. God is high, but if thou art lifted up He fleeth from thee, whereas, if thou humblest thyself, He cometh down to thee. Wherefore? "The Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly; but the proud He knoweth from afar." To the lowly He hath respect, that He may raise them up; the proud He knoweth from afar, that He may thrust them down.

Christ arose again, to give us hope that this mortal will yet put on immortality He hath assured against an hopeless death, and against the thought that death endeth life. We were troubled, even as touching the soul, but Christ, arising from the grave, hath assured to us the resurrection of the body also. Believe therefore, that thou mayest be made pure. First it behoveth thee to believe, if by faith thou wouldest in the end worthily see God. And wouldest thou see God Give ear to His own words: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). Think first, then, how to purify thine heart; take from it whatsoever thou seest in it which displeaseth God.

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