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The Ascension of the Lord took place 40 days after Easter, which this year, is celebrated on Ascension Thursday, May 18. However, in most dioceses in the Unites States, including the Diocese of Little Rock, the celebration of this solemnity and holy day of obligation is transferred to the following Sunday, May 21. The Ascension of the Lord is detailed in the Scriptures and in our creeds. Every Sunday, we profess it in the Nicene Creed: “(Jesus) ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” Jesus’ ascension concluded his work on earth to bring about our redemption that he began on Good Friday.
The Significance of the Ascension
In “Recovering the importance and the lessons of the Ascension,” Father Jeff Kirby elaborates on the significance of this feast day. “When Christ ascended into heaven, he did not leave his human nature behind. He brought that nature, our human nature, into heaven with him. The Son of God did not leave us orphans. He still has his human nature, and still bears the wounds of his passion in the kingdom of heaven. By bringing his human nature into heaven, Jesus Christ opened paradise for the human family. With a glorified human body and a human soul, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity sits at the right hand of God the Father for all eternity. This incorporation of the human and the divine makes him our presence in eternity and the mediator between God and humanity.
“This is the pressing and inspiring lesson of the ascension. It touches the core of the Christian faith, our own dignity as human beings, and the life available to us after death. It is a strong reminder to us of how greatly we are loved and how intensely God desires fellowship with us.”
The Feast of Pentecost
The Ascension of the Lord is followed 10 days later by the feast of Pentecost. In fact, it was Christ’s ascension that made Pentecost possible. “It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you,” Jesus told his disciples. (John 16:7) But he promised: “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) To help you prepare for the feast of Pentecost, consider praying a novena to the Holy Spirit that can be prayed daily from the Friday after Ascension Thursday to the vigil of Pentecost.
73 Prayer Practices in 2023
In the year 2023, there are numerous prayer practices that you can incorporate into your spiritual life. These practices can help deepen your relationship with God and enhance your overall well-being. Here are 73 prayer practices that you can explore and incorporate into your daily life in 2023:
1. Morning Prayer
Start your day with a prayer of gratitude and surrender. Offer your day to God and ask for His guidance and blessings throughout the day.
2. Evening Prayer
Before going to bed, take a few moments to reflect on your day and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings you received. Ask for forgiveness for any shortcomings and seek God’s peace and protection as you rest.
3. Intercessory Prayer
Pray for the needs of others. Lift up those who are suffering, sick, or in need of comfort. Ask God to intervene in their lives and provide them with the support and healing they need.
4. Contemplative Prayer
Set aside time for silent prayer and meditation. Focus on being present with God and listening to His voice. Allow yourself to be still and open to His guidance and love.
5. Lectio Divina
Engage in the ancient practice of lectio divina, which involves reading and meditating on Scripture. Choose a passage that speaks to you and take time to reflect on its meaning and how it applies to your life.
Pray the Rosary, a traditional Catholic prayer that involves meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary. Use the beads to guide you through the prayers and reflections.
7. Liturgy of the Hours
Join in the universal prayer of the Church by praying the Liturgy of the Hours. This prayer practice involves praying Psalms, hymns, and other readings at different times throughout the day.
Spend time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Visit a church or chapel where the Eucharist is exposed and spend time in quiet adoration and worship.
Participate in a novena, a nine-day prayer devotion, to seek the intercession of a particular saint or to pray for a specific intention. Follow the prescribed prayers and readings for each day of the novena.
10. Prayer Journaling
Write down your prayers, reflections, and experiences in a journal. Use this practice to deepen your understanding of yourself and your relationship with God.
These are just a few examples of the many prayer practices that you can explore and incorporate into your spiritual life in 2023. Each practice offers a unique way to connect with God and deepen your faith. Find the ones that resonate with you and make them a regular part of your prayer routine. Remember, prayer is a personal and intimate conversation with God, so find what works best for you and be open to the ways in which He may be calling you to grow and deepen your relationship with Him.