Today is Ascension Sunday in most dioceses. I can only imagine the feelings of the apostles as Jesus reminds them He will be with them always, that He will send the Holy Spirit but then leaves them again. They watched Him suffer and die, He appeared to them after rising from the dead. He taught them and then He was gone again.
I read a reflection this morning, from Conception Abbey, for Ascension Sunday, in which Fr. Martinez shares a connection between the Ascension and the anniversary of his mother’s passing. He shares that he and his siblings came to understand that their mother was always with them if they lived as she had raised them. I think we probably have all had that kind of experience after losing someone we loved.
I will always remember the first time I was going to start planting a garden, the Spring after my dad’s passing. I said “Ok Dad, let’s do this”. I got all my holes dug, tomato plants lined up and knelt down to begin the task of putting them in. I heard, as clearly as if he was standing behind me, “You forgot the MiracleGro!”. I laughed out loud, got up and headed to the garage and proceeded to plant them “correctly” as I watched him do for so many years!
Fr. Martinez concludes that the apostles, and us, as children of faith, do the same if we listen to and follow the ways of Jesus. I am sure the apostles heard Jesus’ voice in their hearts and minds at times after the Ascension, just as clearly as I heard my Dad’s voice in the garden. It is the spirit of our loved ones that lives with us and keeps them alive, always with us, in our hearts. It was with the coming of the Holy Spirit that the disciples were able to go on and be witnesses to Him throughout the world, to be the new body of Christ. The same is true for us.
During the Mass of the Ascension of our Lord, the Easter candle is extinguished. Jesus has ascended to the Father and the Easter season has concluded. The sanctuary light, by the tabernacle in every Catholic Church, reminds us that Jesus remains with us, in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I have seen people walk in a church and genuflect toward the windows, the altar, and a variety of other directions. In newer church designs, it may be that they don’t know where the tabernacle is, so they are just kneeling toward the front which has the altar used for Mass. In other cases, it perhaps reflects that they don’t understand that we are kneeling, in reverence, to our Lord, present to us at all times in the Blessed Sacrament.
If you walk in a church and don’t know where the tabernacle, with Jesus is, just look for the red sanctuary candle. It burns at all times, until after The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday when Jesus is removed during the holy days of Triduum, until Easter Vigil. My aunt, a Franciscan sister, used to make the sign of the cross as my Mom would drive by a church between my house and my other aunts home, during her visits with us. I thought she was doing so because it was a church. It wasn’t until I understood my faith more and learned that she was doing so because Jesus was present in that church, as He is in all Catholic Churches, in the Blessed Sacrament, in the tabernacle.
My essential oil classmate, Pat Brockman Iannone, shared this beautiful photo from her trip to Jerusalem, that I am using today with her permission, from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. She wasn’t sure if there was a tabernacle by the hanging candle, but I did research to learn that there is an Orthodox tabernacle in the Church at the altar of Golgotha. Her photo reminds me of the older beautiful hanging sanctuary lights that were used in churches in Europe or older, more traditional design churches. Regardless of the style, the sanctuary lights remind us that Jesus said “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
I still have a preference for Ascension on Thursday, old-fashioned I guess. It provides an opportunity to savor the 10 days of waiting for Pentecost. My team at work decided to take this time for a “mini-retreat” and pray a novena between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost with prayers to the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and minds as we continue discernment and work toward the official launch of Ignatian Ministries as a non-profit and our new website. This week, how might you reflect on the ways that Jesus is always with you and prepare for a deeper union with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.
Photo by Patricia Brockman Iannone. Pat is also an essential oil educator and practitioner. Her website is gingkotreehealing.com. GingkoTree Healing is also on Facebook.
Concluding Prayer of the Divine Praises: May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.
3 thoughts on “I am with you always”
Thank you, Deena. This was so meaningful to me today especially. Today I returned to church which I have not been going since Mom passed away. The Mass intention was for my mom. I needed these words added to the wonderful experience of being back in church. Thank you.
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Cheri, you are welcome and I am so happy that my words were meaningful to you. I am so happy also that you felt ready to return to Mass, especially since it was for your Mom on Ascension Sunday! ❤️
It was so good to be back in church. I’m struggling at trying to accept life in my world without mom. I’m sure you can relate.