“Lift up your hearts.” “We lift them up to the Lord.”

Ascension of the Lord – May 28, 2017

By Father Thomas McCabe

Mass is an upward surge of the heart, mind and voice as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in offering ourselves to our heavenly Father through Christ. This is the essence of prayer: raising our hearts and minds to God.

Mass is the holiest prayer whereby Christ and the Holy Spirit are uniquely present to perfect the prayers and souls of those who worship in spirit and truth; and where Christ and the Holy Spirit are so too is the Mother of Christ and the spouse of the Holy Spirit – Mary.

Since God called Mary to be the Mother of his divine Son, her will has always been conformed to God, and her heart has always been united to her Son, Jesus. The connection between the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus can never be separated. Just as Jesus was always united to God the Father and the Holy Spirit throughout eternity as God the Son, in analogous way through a special grace in time, Mary is always united to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

We can see this unity of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary in the doctrine of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven and Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Mary shared in Jesus’ Ascension bodily because it was from Mary that the Eternal Word of God took our bodily form, our human nature.

Every time we celebrate Mass, the Paschal Mystery, we are celebrating the redemptive action of Christ principally found in his Passion, death, Resurrection and Glorious Ascension into heaven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “‘The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.’ It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God.” 1073

This upward movement of Holy Mother Church in the liturgy, “the font from which all her power flows”, is symbolized in the incense used at Mass as it drifts to heaven as a pleasing fragrance for the Lord. This symbolism is captured in Psalm 141: “Let my prayer come like incense before you…”

We read in the New Testament, The Book of Revelation: “Another angel came in holding a censer of gold. He took his place at the altar of incense and was given large amounts of incense to deposit on the altar of gold in front of the throne, together with the prayers of all God’s holy ones. From the angel’s hand, the smoke of the incense went up before God, and with it the prayers of God’s people.” Revelation 8:3-4

This upward movement of the heart opens us up to God, who then pours forth his graces into us that we might go into the world as Christ’s people. To continue this through Jesus and Mary you can enthrone an image of their hearts in your home. Contact The National Enthronement Center at (508) 999-2680 and ask for a $10.00 enthronement kit which includes prayers and images. You can bring an image of the sacred hearts to Mass with you on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, Friday, June 23, to be re/blessed: 7:30 am at St. Michael, or 7:00 pm at St. Albert. Look for available times if you wish a priest to be a part of that blessing.

God bless you, Fr. Thomas McCabe


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