On the Feast of the Ascension, Thoughts on the Kingship of Christ

The Ascension of Christ, 1496-98, Oil on panel, 342 x 263 cm. Musée Municipal des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

As we celebrate Christ’s Ascension today, we cannot but think of the mission of the Church and establishing the Reign of Christ the King. Here is an excerpt from The Kingship of Christ According to the Principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Rev. Denis Fahey.

. . .When an organism perishes and corrupts, it is because it had ceased to be under the action of the causes which had given it its form and constitution. To make it healthy and flourishing again it is necessary to restore it to the vivifying action of those same causes. So society, in its foolhardy effort to escape from God, has rejected the divine order and revelation; and it is thus withdrawn from the salutary efficacy of Christianity, which is manifestly the most solid guarantee of order, the strongest bond of fraternity, and the inexhaustible source of all public and private virtue. This sacrilegious divorce has resulted in bringing about that trouble which now disturbs the world. Hence it is the pale of the Church which this lost society must re-enter, if it wishes to recover its well-being, its repose, and its salvation.

“Just as Christianity cannot penetrate into the soul without making it better, so it cannot enter in public life without establishing order. . . .If it has transformed pagan society. . .so, after the terrible shocks which unbelief has given to the world in our days, it will be able to put that world again on the true road, and bring back to order the States and people of modern times. But the return of Christianity will not be efficacious and complete if it does not restore the world to a sincere love of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Savior, the daughter and heiress of His Redemption.”

Rogation Monday

litany-of-saintsSome excerpts from Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Year:

WE need so much penance, and we do so little! If we are truly in earnest, we shall be most fervent in doing the little that is left us to do.

The object of the Rogation days is to appease the anger of God, and avert the chastisements which the sins of the world so justly deserve; moreover, to draw down the divine blessing on the fruits of the earth. The litany of the saints is sung during the procession, which is followed by a special Mass said in the stational church, or if there be no Station appointed, in the church whence the procession first started.

The litany of the saints is one of the most efficacious of prayers. The Church makes use of it on all solemn occasions, as a means of rendering God propitious through the intercession of the whole court of heaven. They who are prevented from assisting at the procession, should recite the litany in union with holy Church: they will thus share in the graces attached to the Rogation days; they will be joining in the supplications now being made throughout the entire world; they will be proving themselves to be Catholics.

Let us pray

O God, whose property it is always to have mercy and to spare: receive our petitions: that we, and all thy servants, who are bound by the chain of sin, may, by the compassion of thy goodness, mercifully be absolved.

Hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy suppliants, and pardon us our sins, who confess them to thee; that of thy bounty, thou mayst grant us pardon and peace.

Out of thy clemency, O Lord, show us thy unspeakable mercy; that so thou mayst both acquit us of our sins, and deliver us from the punishment we deserve for them. 

O God, who by sin art offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of thy people, who make supplications to thee; and turn away the scourges of thy anger, which we deserve for our sins.

O almighty and eternal God, have mercy on thy servant N., our chief Bishop, and direct him, according to thy clemency, in the way of everlasting salvation; that, by thy grace, he may desire those things that are agreeable to thee, and perform them with all his strength…

Rogation Days this Week

Rogation Days Q and A
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week are the Rogation Days that precede Ascension Thursday. Historically the Catholic Church has encouraged the faithful to undertake processions on these days, asking God to bless the fields, so that farmers may have good harvests. In modern times we have tended to lose that connection. However, current events are bringing the farmer’s work back to the forefront of our concerns. There are readings and prayers for each day. You may find them and more on the history and explanation of the Rogation Days here.

This Hour of Shadow Over Our Easter: The Greater Litanies

Greater Litanies

Tomorrow, the feast of St. Mark, is also a day set aside for a penitential procession and was designated so long before St. Mark’s festival was instituted. As Dom Gueranger says in his history of the Greater Litanies,

Laden as we are with the manifold graces of this holy season, and elated with our Paschal joys, we must sober our gladness by reflecting on the motives which led the Church to cast this hour of shadow over our Easter sunshine. After all, we are sinners with much to regret and much to fear; we have to avert those scourges which are due to the crimes of mankind; we have, by humbling ourselves and invoking the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, to obtain the health of our bodies and the preservation of the fruits of the earth; we have to offer atonement of divine justice for our own and the world’s pride, sinful indulgences, and insubordination. Let us enter into ourselves, and humbly confess that our own share in exciting God’s indignation is great; and our poor prayers, united with those of our holy Mother the Church, will obtain mercy for the guilty, and for ourselves who are of the number.

The great feature of the day is the procession with the singing of the Litany of the Saints, followed by several versicles and prayers. You may want to recite them at home if you do not have a procession available to you. Find them here.

Here is a link to Dom Gueranger’s history and explanation of this day. You will find it by scrolling down to the heading, “St. Mark’s Procession”. The link also provides a bounty of information on St. Mark.