Weird and Wonderful: the Essence of the Ascension

It’s time, once again, to reflect upon the Ascension of Jesus Christ…

Okay, it’s true, Catholics believe some radical things.  Like the Ascension. We profess that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but also went bodily to a supernatural place that we call Heaven. His risen body is glorified, we believe, able to eat, walk, withstand probing, and all the other things that a normal body can do – but also able to pass through walls and bear a deadly wound without death or bleeding. And, now, Jesus, in all that he is, both human and divine, abides bodily… somewhere… some where that isn’t exactly here… or there… somewhere from which he will return… somewhere which we hope to be. This is the Catholic Christian faith. And it does rather seem all too fantastic to be true.

But, then again, have you heard about quarks? Dark matter? Dark energy? The world which we take to be solid and true is too wonderful to comprehend in its entirety or even in the entirety of its smallest part… for what is its smallest part? We would know nothing of the existence of, say, subatomic particles if a privileged few people hadn’t “seen” them and then told us about them. Tales of whitedwarfs and blackholes sound like mere tall tales indeed, but the small percentage of our population, called scientists, are intelligent and fervent in their telling of them. And we accept. We have not seen the proof and, even if we did, most of us would not be able to understand the “proof” – but, we believe.

Life is profoundly complex and marvelously weird. We would be arrogant to think that everything in existence can fit into our limited brains. There is so much more than what we know, so much more than what we can imagine…. The myriad clusters of stars and sweep of galaxies in the night sky are as beautiful to my eyes as the exuberant profusion of blue forget-me-nots in the garden beneath my window. Sometimes, I may think that the superabundance of suns and planets in the universe renders the specially-intended and divinely-loved existence of human beings into a myth. Yet… is it a myth, a fairytale, that the superabundance of apple blossoms blooming only rarely yield forth a tree? From countless seeds come not countless plants – all that is required, all that is hoped for, is but one.
DSCN8106

This is how God creates. For this is how God loves. Profusely, limitless, overgenerous in creative exuberance and abundant forgiveness… what goodness there is now is only the smallest part of what will be.

So, yes, I believe. Jesus, our savior and Lord, is fully where he promised to be, where he will call us to join him one day. Although we may not know “where” that is, we know the way… the way of  Christ, of pure and self-giving love without limits. Just so, though we may not know the exact purpose and workings of the plethora of stars and flowers, we know the beauty… the wonder and awe-inspiring beauty of life…

– of life loved exuberantly into being.

© 2016 Christina Chase
originally posted 2015

photo© 2015 Dan Chase

The Essence of the Ascension – Weird and Wonderful

Okay, it’s true, Catholics believe some radical things. Take the Ascension, for one. We profess that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but also went bodily to a supernatural place that we call Heaven. His risen body is glorified, we believe, able to eat, walk, withstand probing, and all the other things that a normal body can do – but also able to pass through walls and bear a deadly wound without death or bleeding. And, now, Jesus, in all that he is, both human and divine, abides bodily… somewhere… some where that isn’t exactly here… or there… somewhere from which he will return… somewhere which we hope to be. This is the Catholic Christian faith. And it does rather seem all too fantastic to be true.

But, then again, have you heard about quarks? Dark matter? Dark energy? The world which we take to be solid and true is too wonderful to comprehend in its entirety or even in the entirety of its smallest part… for what is its smallest part? We would know nothing of the existence of, say, subatomic particles if a privileged few people hadn’t “seen” them and then told us about them. Tales of whitedwarfs and blackholes sound like mere tall tales indeed, but the small percentage of our population, called scientists, are intelligent and fervent in their telling of them. And we accept. We have not seen the proof and, even if we did, most of us would not be able to understand the “proof” – but, we believe.

Life is profoundly complex and marvelously weird. We would be arrogant to think that everything in existence can fit into our limited brains. There is so much more than what we know, so much more than what we can imagine…. The myriad clusters of stars and sweep of galaxies in the night sky are as beautiful to my eyes as the exuberant profusion of blue forget-me-nots in the garden beneath my window. Sometimes, I may think that the superabundance of suns and planets in the universe renders the specially-intended and divinely-loved existence of human beings into a myth. Yet… is it a myth, a fairytale, that the superabundance of apple blossoms blooming only rarely yield forth a tree? From countless seeds come not countless plants – all that is required, all that is hoped for, is but one. DSCN8106This is how God creates. For this is how God loves. Profusely, limitless, overgenerous in creative exuberance and abundant forgiveness… what goodness there is now is only the smallest part of what will be.

So, yes, I believe. Jesus, our savior and Lord, is fully where he promised to be, where he will call us to join him one day. Although we may not know “where” that is, we know the way… the way of pure and self-giving love without limits. Just so, though we may not know the exact purpose and workings of the plethora of stars and flowers, we know the beauty… the wonder and awe-inspiring beauty of life…

– of life loved exuberantly into being.

© 2015 Christina Chase

First Friday and the Will of St. Francis

In a shadowy recess of the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, I caught sight of a dimly lit bas-relief and felt myself drawn to it… and even changed by it.

Before I get to that, shortly – below the carving is a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi taking the body of Jesus off of the Cross. Of course, it is historically inaccurate. But, great art depicts the truth within and beyond facts. The artwork is meant to convey the love and life of Francis, who was so utterly devoted to God-Incarnate suffering in this world that he even developed the Stigmata, signs of Christ’s wounds on his own body. Francis’s arms are therefore shown to be encircling the body of Christ as he is ready to lift up his beloved Savior and catch him in embrace.

St. Francis Jesus Cross Ste. Anne de Beaupré

Francis is on tippytoe in his innocent eagerness, gazing upward in adoration, his hand curved and held in gentle wonder.

And I ask myself: do I want to embrace Christ this much?

Am I eager to carry the weight of his beaten and bloody body? Do I hold him in wonder and affection close to my heart? I wasn’t there when they crucified my Lord, but I am here, now, when the dying are crying out in pain and loneliness, and the abused are losing hope that anyone will carry them to safety. Is my heart suffering with theirs in true compassion, ready to do whatever I can to help – not to hesitate, but to give generously in love? Whatever I do for the least, I do for Christ.

As I wrote in the beginning of this post, it was the bas-relief above the statue that most deeply moved me. I had to look up at it a long while before I could discern the figures and details. While realizing what I was seeing, I felt the cords of my heart being so sweetly touched that the exquisite song of joy spread all through me. Below is the image, the image which I am taking as my Faith Facilitator for this First Friday:

St. Francis bas-relief Ste. Anne de Beaupré

At first, I saw Jesus with his arms open wide, crucified. And Francis, in front of Jesus like a child, held his arms open wide in imitation, looking back and up at his Savior as though asking, “Like this?” Christ, the patient teacher, and Francis, the willing student. But, then… I saw that there were wings depicted behind Jesus, signifying Christ Resurrected, Christ Glorified and Ascended in Paradise. And I knew that Christ Jesus was teaching his beloved child… with open arms, a living Cross… how to fly….

Prayer:

Oh, my Lord and my God,

teach me to be little,

your little child,

so that I may grow big and strong like you.

Amen.

[This is part of the First Friday Faith Facilitator series, for the month of November 2014.]

© 2014 Christina Chase