Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who believe that your Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer,
ascended this day to the heavens,
may in spirit dwell already in heavenly realms.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Readings and Commentaries
Only one verse in the entire New Testament makes chronological reference to the ascension. In Acts 1:3, Luke states that Jesus continued to appear to the disciples for forty days after his resurrection. He goes on to present his account of Jesus being taken up into heaven.
In spite of this ancient witness, the first testimony to the celebration of “Ascension Thursday” in Rome does not appear until around the year 500. Originally the fifty days of the Easter season were celebrated as a single unit culminating in the feast of Pentecost. Gradually, however, this unity broke down until the season was divided between the forty days leading to Ascension, and the ten days from there to Pentecost. Pentecost itself became a separate feast with an octave.
Since Vatican II we have largely recovered the initial unity of the Easter season. But not quite, because the document governing the liturgical year still refers to the weekdays between Ascension and Pentecost as a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In Australia Luke’s chronology is not taken literally; the Ascension of the Lord is transferred to the following Sunday.
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 1:1−11
In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’
As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’
Responsorial Psalm Ps 46:2−3, 6−9
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy:
a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth. R.
God goes up with shouts of joy;
the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.
Sing praise for God, sing praise,
sing praise to our king, sing praise. R.
God is king of all the earth.
Sing praise with all your skill.
God is king over the nations;
God reigns on his holy throne. R.
A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians 1:17–23
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of
what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of
him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that
you can see what hope his call holds for you, what
rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and
how infinitely great is the power that he has
exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the
strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used
it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at
his right hand, in heaven, far above every
Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any
other name that can be named, not only in this age,
but also in the age to come. He has put all things
under his feet, and made him as the ruler of
everything, the head of the Church; which is his body,
the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.
Almighty and all-merciful God,
lover of the human race, healer of all our wounds,
in whom there is no shadow of death,
save us in this time of crisis;
grant wisdom and courage to our leaders;
watch over all medical people
as they tend the sick and work for a cure;
stir in us a sense of solidarity beyond all isolation;
if our doors are closed, let our hearts be open.
By the power of your love destroy the virus of fear,
that hope may never die
and the light of Easter, the triumph of life,
may shine upon us and the whole world.
Through Jesus Christ, the Lord risen from the dead,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Holy Mary, health of the sick, pray for us.
St Joseph, guardian of us all, pray for us.
(Most Rev. Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane)
We give thanks anew for your providence and presence.
We prayerfully seek your grace, amidst COVID-19 here and overseas.
We pray for those in need of healing.
We pray for your peace with those who are anxious or grieving.
We pray you will continue to strengthen and sustain
all those who are serving in response.
We pray for your Holy Spirit’s discernment
amidst the many choices and decisions
facing our national, community and medical leaders.
We pray we each might see quickly what more we can do
to help those who are vulnerable.
This prayer for our nation in the family of nations,
with all that is on our hearts,
we gather now and pray
through Jesus Christ our Lord.