On the Ascension and the Holy Mysteries

Bede the Venerable ca. 673-735

When Elijah was raised up to the heavens, he let the cloak with which he had been clothed fall to Elisha.

When our Lord ascended into heaven, He left the mysteries of the humanity He had assumed to his disciples, to the entire Church in fact, so that it could be sanctified by them, and warmed by the power of His love.

Elisha took up Elijah’s cloak and struck the waters of the river Jordan with it; and when he called upon the God of Elijah, the waters were divided and he crossed over.

The Apostles and the entire Church took up the Sacraments of their Redeemer that had been instituted through the Apostles, so that, spiritually guided by them, and cleansed and consecrated by them, they too learned to overcome death’s assault by calling upon the name of God the Father, and to cross over to undying life, spurning the obstacle of death.

Let us the, with all devotion, dearly beloved brothers, venerate this glory of the Lord’s Ascension, which was first expressed by the words and deeds of the prophets, and was afterward brought to fulfilment in our Mediator himself.

And that we ourselves may become worthy of following in his footsteps and ascending to heaven, let us in the meantime become humble on earth for our own good, always mindful that, as Solomon says, Humiliation follows the proud, and honor follows the humble in spirit (Prov. 29:23).

Behold we have learned in our Redeemer’s Ascension whither all our effort should be directed; behold we have recognized that the entry to the heavenly fatherland has been opened up to human beings by the ascension into heaven of the Mediator between God and human beings.

Let us hurry, with all eagerness, to the perpetual bliss of this fatherland; since we are not yet able to be there in our bodies, let us at least always dwell there by the desire of our minds.

In accord with the words of the great preacher, let us seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God; let us savor the things that are above and not those that are upon the earth (Col. 3:1-2).

Let us seek him and be strengthened; let us seek Him by works of charity, and be strengthened by the hope of finding Him.

Let us seek His face always, so that when He who ascended peacefully returns terrifying, He may find us prepared, and take us with him into the feasts of the city on high. (Homilies on the Gospels, 2:8)

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