Meditating on the Ascension and Our Lady’s Role

Saint of the Day, May 18, 1966

 By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

“A Roman and Apostolic Catholic, the author of this text submits himself with filial devotion to the traditional teaching of Holy Church. However, if by an oversight anything is found in it at variance with that teaching, he immediately and categorically rejects it.”

 The words “Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution” are employed here in the sense given to them by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, the first edition of which was published in the monthly Catolicismo, Nº 100, April 1959.



Ascension (Fra Angelico)

Tomorrow is the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Saint Ignatius of Loyola prescribes; we should recompose the ambience and place to meditate upon the mysteries of Our Lord.

Because of this, we should see what the Ascension means and try to recompose the place and the ambience for a proper meditation. To do that, we need to take this concrete fact into consideration: The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ has an aspect of a farewell to men after having lived His earthly existence. Of course, His earthly existence somehow ended with His death; but after His resurrection, He was often among men and appeared several times so that He still had a social convivium with them.

However, from the moment Our Lord ascended into Heaven, this convivium became extremely rare, sporadic, taking place so to speak in private and extra-official revelations whereas His presence among men during the period between Easter and the Ascension still had the character of an official presence and therefore contained an official revelation.

So the Ascension constituted His final farewell: Men would no longer see Him. True, He remained always present in the Blessed Sacrament; present, but through not though the senses; and that farewell had more to do with appearances and sensibility than with the profound reality unperceived by the senses.

So by ascending into Heaven, the figure of Our Lord as He could be seen, heard and admired through men’s senses was bidding goodbye. It was therefore a closure and a farewell, but at the same time, a glorification.

It was a glorification because Our Lord was going to the Eternal Father; His mission was completely closed because it was perfectly completed. He was going to receive the manifestations of triumph, honor and glory due to those who excel in fulfilling a very sublime and extremely arduous mission perfectly.

Therefore, Our Lord was going to be glorified by the Eternal Father. In other words, the Ascension would take place in such a way that men would see Our Lord’s entire glory. At the same time He would leave the world and be received in Heaven in triumph by all the angels, taking with Him to Heaven the just who had died and were waiting for Him to rise to enter Heaven with Him and reign with the angels for all eternity.

Our Lord Bids farewell to His Disciples is His Glorification

So we should imagine the moment Our Lord said goodbye as a glorification, an immensely glorious farewell, and with it, a glorification of all the aspects of Our Lord’s infinite moral perfection and sanctity. At that point, all the most singular virtues that Our Lord displayed in His earthly existence, all the unfathomable virtues that He manifested, all the charm of His personality, every aspect of His infinite perfection would now shine with an extraordinary brilliance and glory as never before. This was precisely how He said goodbye to each one and at a certain moment, He ascended to heaven entirely alone.

We can imagine Our Lord ascending and how His glory became more and more resplendent as He ascended until men lost sight of His gaze and understood that His glory had mixed with the splendors of the Eternal Father and gone out of sight.

We can imagine how that moment might have been: Our Lord walks toward the mount from which He will ascend to heaven. Just as on His way to the Garden of Olives, the Apostles became saddened and more distant from Him. On this second march He went filled with an ever greater joy and glory. He then addressed them with a few words, bid farewell, and began to ascend.

Each One Sees Our Lord according to His Primordial Light

At the same time then, in a marvelous synthesis, all of His qualities began to appear. Therefore, each individual soul would naturally observe, that which it should see according to his primordial light.

So we can conjecture that while the Ascension was equally seen by all, each person noticed something completely different from the others. To some souls Our Lord appeared as a King resplendent with glory, rising to heaven and shining with sacred power. To others, He may have been seen like a most wise Master Who took all wisdom with Him. Yet to others, as a most powerful miracle worker or a most loving Shepherd, and others may have been especially touched by Our Lord’s charm and loving tenderness as He rose.

If one would dare say so, Our Lord made Himself small for the small, tender for the tender, accessible to the timid and rose to heaven in the glorification of His infinite kindness, goodness, affability and mercy.

Someone might have seen Him rise with that tremendous power of Divinity, that fearsome majesty He manifested when they asked for Him and He answered: Ego Sum, and everyone fell to the ground unable to move.

Others might have seen Him rise in a way that His most tender and affectionate words toward men appeared truly magnificent. Above all, everyone saw everything; but while witnessing this extraordinary event, each saw something more apt to do good to his soul.

And so we can also imagine that as He rose the skies took on different shades of gold and various colors; marvelous chants were heard and extraordinary things were felt by the senses as He rose, echoing heaven’s glorification and the concert of angels descending to earth to announce the triumph prepared for Him in heaven.

We can imagine that all these things took place simultaneously. Of course, this is all conjecture because history has recorded no details. It is nevertheless undeniable that something like this happened. But this is undoubtedly the effect it should have had on souls, and in this way, Our Lord impressed all souls according to how they should have seen His Divinity.

We can thus make a hypothetical re-composition of the place and imagine Our Lord rising and His glory enthralling the bystanders more and more as the event unfolded. Thus, we can look at the crowd of faithful on their knees contemplating the Ascension of Our Lord. That multitude completely ravished and enthusiastic with what they were seeing, with an enthusiasm full of recollection, veneration and love that was the seed of the nascent Catholic Church. Even if we did not see the Ascension, by looking at that pious multitude on their knees and seeing the state of those souls we could accurately imagine how the Ascension took place. And naturally, in the center of the crowd was Our Lady, surrounded above all by Saint Peter and the Apostles.

As the Ascension Ends, Marian Devotion Begins

According to the plans of Divine Providence Our Lady was the image of Christ that remained with men. She was the Mediatrix that reassured the faithful by Her presence in the Church, that the immense distance now separating Our Lord from men was not an abyss or a hiatus but it was the contrary. She was that something that continued uniting them because she was precisely the all-powerful Mediatrix who was the sacred union between Heaven and earth; God and men.

Anne Katherine Emmerich tells us, and this is quite understandable, that after Our Lord’s Ascension, during Our Lady’s presence on this earth she did not appear so clearly to the Apostles and early Catholics in the splendor of her privileges.

Of course they saw something, but not everything. This was to mae way for the Person of Our Lord to occupy everything. But from the moment that He left by rising to Heaven, and even more so after Pentecost they began to note more and more everything that she was, all her similarity with Him, and everyone’s fervor toward her grew enormously. From that moment began what some writers call the “Mission of Mary.”

This sublime “Mission of Mary” was precisely Our Lady’s earthly mission before being assumed into Heaven, was somehow to make Our Lord’s sensible presence felt even after His Ascension.

So from that moment on, Marian veneration becomes clearer. A special veneration for Our Lady takes shape, and she begins her work in the Church just as the moon appears when the sun sets. Although the moon is by no means the sun, it has its own tenderness, beauty and a truly marvelous charm. By this analogy, it is easy to see that Our Lady’s mission began with the Ascension of Our Lord that lasted until the end of her days on earth.

Our Lord thus goes but leaves His Real Presence and His Most Holy Mother with us. Every one of those scintillations that could be seen on the Ascension, started to be noticed later while keeping all due proportion, in the person of Our Lady. It was with this event that the great mission of Our Lady in the Church began.

With this you are able to make a meditation by asking yourselves: “If I had been there, how would I have seen it? How could I imagine it according to my primordial light?” This would be fine as long as you understand that you are dealing with a mere hypothesis which has a certain substratum of reality in its symbolic aspect, but not in its historic one.

So using that moment, one can make a re-composition of a place as Saint Ignatius Loyola recommended; and then one has the possibility of making a very fruitful meditation about the Ascension.

A Prayer to Our Lady Present at the Ascension

We have here commentaries about the Ascension taken from Dom Guéranger’s Année Liturgique, the text of a prayer to Our Lady from the Greek-Catholic liturgy:

“Lord, after fulfilling by Thy kindness the mystery hidden for centuries and for so many generations, Thou hast come to the Mount of Olives with Thy disciples. Thou hadst with Thee the One Who placed Thee in this world, Thou the Creator and maker of all things.

Indeed, was it unbecoming for the One Who in Her capacity as Mother suffered during Thy Passion more than anyone else to experience a joy surpassing any joy as Thy flesh is glorified?

As we too partake in this joy, we glorify Thy Ascension to Heaven and the great benefit Thou hast made us.”

Here it is saying that Our Lady was present with Our Lord at the Garden of Olives and was the first one with Him at the hour of glory because she had been the first one with Him at the hour of sorrow. This glorification, this joy is something for which we too must give thanks, and not only Our Lady. The prayer continues:

“Thou hast placed in the world, O Immaculate Sovereign, the Lord of all things.”

Our Lady gave birth to the Child Jesus.

“…the Lord of all things voluntarily suffered His Passion and rose to the Father, from Whom He had taken no distance by becoming incarnate. O unfathomable marvel! How, full of divine grace, Thou containest in Thy bosom the incomprehensible God, Who begged for [a body of] flesh and now rises to Heaven in such great glory?”

Here the prayer glorifies Our Lady because she gave Our Lord His flesh, with which He now rises to Heaven. And so she is His Mother who receives an incomparable glory.

“Behold Thy Son, O Mother of God, after having defeated death by His Cross…”

Our Lord, by dying on the Cross, defeated the death of sin.

“…resurrected on the third day, and after having appeared to the disciples, returned to Heaven. We unite ourselves with Him in veneration [to Thee] and sing and glorify Thee throughout the ages…”

By this phrase, we unite ourselves to Him in our veneration for Our Lady and glorify her throughout the ages.

“Hail Mother of God, Mother of Christ God, the One Whom Thou gavest the world and glorifiest on this day watching Him rise with the Angels.”

The idea is that Our Lady saw Our Lord rise to heaven by His own power, followed by a cohort of angels, and she contemplated her God and the infinitely holy Son she had given the world, Who at that moment was the object of such immense glory. This is the greatest, most magnificent meditation Our Lady made on the Ascension.