Step 32: The Ascension

 

Each prayer session will be structured as it follows:

We go to our place of prayer quiet down a short while and begin with some prayer. After the opening prayer and asking the grace we want to receive in this step then read one of the given Scripture passages then we spend some time with silent prayer. At the end we jot down a diary about the experience of this meditation and share with our companion about it. Finish always with a short prayer. Each session should take at least half an hour and not more than one and the half hour. We remain with the material as long as we feel that it is fruitful in insights and feelings and add more prayer sessions to prolong the time spent with this step, which can take usually one or two weeks if we do it in our daily life with one prayer session a day. The “Orientation” below gives help for how to arrange the sessions of this Step.

 

Opening Prayer:

We place ourselves in the presence of God and pray that everything we do would serve the good for us and for all.

 

Asking what we want:

As St. Ignatius says: “Here it will be to ask for the grace to be glad and rejoice intensely because of the great joy and the glory of Christ our Lord” [221].

This grace what we ask in the Fourth Phase is part of the general goal of identification with Christ and with his ideals throughout the Exercises. With other words, the joy asked now is a “unitive” grace as the compassion, shame and sorrow were in the Third Phase. And is a gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we saw it in the file “Fourth Phase Introduction”. Besides this generous joy with Christ we can be glad also for what the resurrection of Jesus means for us, for the hope of our own life now and of our future resurrection.

 

Orientation:

The risen Jesus appeared first to the women and then to his disciples whom he chose as witnesses of his new existence and taught them of his “spiritual” presence - the word “spiritual” in the Bible always means  “in the power of the Holy Spirit”.

The apparitions tangibly show that the Son of God chose to remain human forever, prove that humanity is destined to enter eternal life, a fact that should lead to a new appreciation of the dignity of each human being.

The ascension marks the end of the period of apparitions, when the risen Jesus gave instructions and consoled these witnesses. It takes place on the Mount of Olives near Bethany and mountains in the biblical writings mean in general a place of revelation. Now he tells them to wait for the “promise of the Father”, Holy Spirit, in whose power they will go to the “ends of the earth” to proclaim the presence of Kingdom of God. As he disappears the disciples know that he will be always present in the Spirit. They learn also of the parousia, that Jesus will return “in the same way” as the ascension took place but that the time of this is not revealed to no human being.

 

For this as for all contemplations of the Fourth Phase  we take as model the first appearance of the risen Jesus to his mother in Step 28.

Read with attention also the [226-229] “Notes on how to proceed”  for the Fourth Phase.

 

Scripture passages:

Luke gives us two accounts of the ascension, the first Lk 24:50-53 in connection with the apparition in verses 36-49 and the second in Acts 1:1-12 placing it forty days after Easter (forty is a symbolic number in the Bible to express wholeness).

 

Final Prayers:

In the Fourth Phase the companions can end the contemplations with a prayerful dialog or choose the threefold prayer as in the previous phase. After some sharing and jotting in their diary they close with an Our Father…

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