The Solemnity of the Ascension
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - May 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Now that we’re still in various forms of quarantine, it’s timely to keep heaven in mind. The Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us good occasion for this consideration, actually a crucial one if we don’t want to lose our proper bearing here on earth.

The simple reason is that heaven is where we all came from, since we all came from God, and where we’re meant to be in our definitive state of life for all eternity. That’s how God, our Creator and Father, wants it. He made us his image and likeness.

For this reason he endowed us with the capacity to know and to love, and gave us his grace so that what we cannot attain through our natural powers, not to mention the dragging effects of our sinfulness, we can still manage to attain through his supernatural power to which we have to correspond as best we can.

That is why St. Paul tells us very clearly: “Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth.” (Col 3) It’s not that we disdain earthly things, but we have to learn how to relate everything to heaven, and not get entangled in our earthly and temporal affairs. Everything is meant to start and end with God.

We’re supposed to be always aware that we’re in a journey toward heaven. Our earthly sojourn is just a test to see if we also would like to be with God in heaven. He wants us to also choose him freely, to love him. Our earthly life is actually a test of love.

This test of love is truly a big challenge, since we have to learn how to be both in the world and yet to have our mind and heart in heaven. We cannot enter heaven without going through our test here on earth.

St. Augustine gives us an idea how to go about this task. It’s a matter of growing in our desire for heaven while here on earth. “Such is our Christian life,” he said. “By desiring heaven we exercise the powers of our soul. Now this exercise will be effective only to the extent that we free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with this world.”

We should always rectify our intentions in all our earthly and temporal affairs. We should see to it that whatever we may doing, even if in the end, what we do could be considered wrong or deficient in some sense, should be done out of faith and love for God and for others.

This is to live out what St. Paul once said: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10,31) It’s in this way that we can somehow live with the great mystery of heaven. This is how we can set our hearts on heaven while still grounded here on earth.

We should then realize deeply that we need to develop the virtue of hope. Hope gives us the bigger picture of our life—the ultimate dimensions and parameters of our life, our ultimate goal and the means, energy, and impulses to be used.

Our present condition that involves an increase of pressure, confusing knowledge overdrives, increasingly sophisticated challenges and difficulties, require that we need to seriously cultivate this virtue. There’s no other way. It’s either that or we get into a free-fall toward disorder, chaos, and desperation.

Thus, we have to make a regular monitoring and accounting of all the developments in our life to see if we are still on track.

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