May 14, 2015 </br>Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

May 14, 2015
Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The feast of the Lord’s Ascension always falls on a Thursday, on the fortieth day after Christ’s resurrection. This is one of the principal feast days of our Lord and therefore, has a post-feast of nine days. It celebrates the memory of Christ’s Ascension into heaven and underscores its significance for Christ and for us. St. John Chrysostom, in his homily on the Ascension says: ‘‘Today the human race is completely reconciled with God. The ancient battle and enmity have disappeared. We, who were unworthy to live even on earth – are now lifted up to heaven. Today we become heirs to the kingdom of heaven, we, who do not even deserve earth, we ascend to heaven and inherit the throne of the King and Lord.

Human nature, against which the cherubim guarded paradise, is now raised up above all the cherubim.”

Sources of the first three centuries do not speak of this feast. Not even the writer Origen (+251) mentions it, although he lists the Christian feasts in the eighth book of his work “Against Celsus.” Liturgical experts are of the opinion that in the first three centuries the celebration of this feast was combined with that of the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). Silvia Egeria does not call this feast the “Ascension,” but only “the fortieth day after the resurrection of Christ.”

In the fourth century the feast of the Lord’s Ascension became a universal feast, celebrated everywhere. The Historian Socrates (+c.440) calls it a “general feast” (History of the Church, 7,26).

The feast of the Ascension was highly extolled in the sermons of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Epiphany of Cyprus, Leo the Great and others. In the fourth century, Queen Helena erected a church at the place of Christ’s Ascension in honour of this feast.

The spirit of the services of this feast, as a whole, is uplifting and joyful. The Church rejoices at the glory of Christ (God and Man), who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. He ascended into heaven, in order to send us the Comforter – the Holy Spirit – and to “prepare a place for us “ (John 14,2) as he promised.

“The Lord ascended into heaven,” we sing in the first stichera of the Great Vespers service of the feast of the Ascension, “in order to send the Comforter to the world. Therefore, heaven prepared a throne for him and the clouds assisted him in his ascent. The angels wonder as they see a man more exalted than they. The Father receives into his bosom him, who is eternally with him. The Holy Spirit command all his angels: “Lift up your gates’ lintels, O princes; all you nations clap Your hands; for Christ has ascended whither He was before.” (from A Byzantine Liturgical Year by Fr. Julain Katrij, OSBM)


GREAT VESPERS

At Psalm 140

In Tone 6

10. The Lord ascended into heaven
to send the Comforter into this world.
The heavens prepared His throne and the clouds were His ladder;
the angels marvelled at the sight of a man more exalted than themselves.
Today, the Father receives again in His bosom
the One who was in Him from all eternity,
and the Holy Spirit gives a command to all the angels:
Lift up your lintels, O you gates!
O you nations of the earth, clap your hands,
for Christ ascends to the place
where He had been from all eternity.

9. The Lord ascended into heaven
to send the Comforter into this world.
The heavens prepared His throne and the clouds were His ladder;
the angels marvelled at the sight of a man more exalted than themselves.
Today, the Father receives again in His bosom
the One who was in Him from all eternity,
and the Holy Spirit gives a command to all the angels:
Lift up your lintels, O you gates!
O you nations of the earth, clap your hands,
for Christ ascends to the place
where He had been from all eternity.

8. O Lord, the Cherubim were amazed at Your Ascension;
they were seized with wonder as they beheld You, O God, rising upon the clouds,
for You are the One who is seated above the clouds.
We sing a hymn of praise to You:
Glory to You for Your tender mercy.

7. O Lord, the Cherubim were amazed at Your Ascension;
they were seized with wonder as they beheld You, O God, rising upon the clouds,
for You are the One who is seated above the clouds.
We sing a hymn of praise to You:
Glory to You for Your tender mercy.

6. O Christ, splendour and glory of the Father,
when we behold Your Ascension on the holy mountain,
we sing a hymn of praise to the beauty of Your countenance.
We bow down to Your Passion,
we venerate Your holy Resurrection,
and we glorify Your noble Ascension.
O Lord, have mercy on us!

5. O Christ, splendour and glory of the Father,
when we behold Your Ascension on the holy mountain,
we sing a hymn of praise to the beauty of Your countenance.
We bow down to Your Passion,
we venerate Your holy Resurrection,
and we glorify Your noble Ascension.
O Lord, have mercy on us!

4. O Lord and Giver of Life,
when the apostles saw You ascending upon the clouds,
a great sadness overcame them;
they shed burning tears and exclaimed:
O our Master, do not leave us orphans;
we are Your servants whom You loved so tenderly.
Since You are most merciful, send down upon us Your all-holy Spirit
to enlighten our souls, as You promised.

3. O Lord and Giver of Life,
when the apostles saw You ascending upon the clouds,
a great sadness overcame them;
they shed burning tears and exclaimed:
O our Master, do not leave us orphans;
we are Your servants whom You loved so tenderly.
Since You are most merciful, send down upon us Your all-holy Spirit
to enlighten our souls, as You promised.

2. After fulfilling the mystery of the plan of salvation, O Lord,
You took Your apostles and went up with them to the Mount of Olives,
and there You passed beyond the firmament of heaven.
You humbled Yourself and were clothed in our humanity,
and now You return to the place which You did not leave.
Send down Your all-holy Spirit to enlighten our souls.

1. After fulfilling the mystery of the plan of salvation, O Lord,
You took Your apostles and went up with them to the Mount of Olives,
and there You passed beyond the firmament of heaven.
You humbled Yourself and were clothed in our humanity,
and now You return to the place which You did not leave.
Send down Your all-holy Spirit to enlighten our souls.

Glory… Now…

O loving Jesus, while You lived on earth,
You were God inseparable from the Father,
and yet You truly shared our humanity.
Ascending in glory today from the Mount of Olives,
through Your great love, You lifted up our fallen nature
and enthroned it with the Father on high.
Therefore, the bodiless Powers were amazed and filled with awe
at seeing Your great love for all.
Together with them, we who live on earth
glorify your condescension to us
and Your Ascension away from us.
Now we implore You, saying:
Through Your Ascension You have filled Your apostles and Your Mother
with a joy that surpasses every other joy,
and through their intercession
make us worthy of the joy of Your elect,
for You are rich in mercy.

Readings
(1) Isaiah 2:2-3; (2) Isaiah 62: 10-12 and 63: 1-9; (3) Zechariah 14: 1, 4, 8-11

Lytia

In Tone 1

By going up again into heaven from which You had descended,
You did not leave us orphans, O Lord.
Show to all Your people the works of Your power,
that Your Spirit may come down upon us
and bring peace to the world,
O Lord and Lover of Mankind.

You ascended, O Christ, to Your eternal Father,
even though You were not removed from His bosom;
and the Powers could not contain their praise of the Trinity.
Even after the Incarnation
they recognize You as the only Son of the Father.
In the abundance of Your goodness, have mercy on us!

Your angels, O Lord, said to the apostles:
Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?
Christ our God, who by leaving you ascended into heaven,
will come again
in the manner by which you have seen Him leave.
Therefore, serve Him in justice and holiness.

In Tone 4

When You came to the Mount of Olives, O Christ,
completing the favourable plan of Your Father,
the angels in heaven were moved with wonder,
and the demons trembled beneath the earth.
The apostles were filled with both fear and joy
when You were speaking with them.
A cloud was prepared before You as an awaiting throne;
heaven opened its gates, shining with beauty;
and the earth uncovered its deep abyss
to show the fall of Adam and his rising up to You again.
As an unseen power raised You from the earth,
You gave Your blessing in a loud voice;
the cloud carried You away, and heaven opened to receive You.
Such is the great work that is beyond words, O Lord,
that You accomplished for the salvation of our souls.

You have renewed in Yourself, O Lord,
the human nature which had fallen, in Adam,
into the very depths of the earth.
On this day You are raised far above
the Principalities and Powers of heaven.
Having so loved human nature,
You granted that it may be enthroned with You;
in Your compassion You united it with Yourself;
in union with it You have suffered;
and by Your Passion You glorified it, O God, beyond all suffering.
Now the bodiless Powers are saying:
Who is this man clothed in majesty?
He is not only a man, but is indeed the God-Man,
for He possesses the appearance of both.
And the angels, arrayed in splendid garments, encircle the apostles, saying:
As Jesus the God-Man is separated from you,
in His divine humanity He shall come again
to judge both the living and the dead;
and He grants to all the faithful
forgiveness of sins and great mercy.

When You were raised up in glory, O Christ our God,
in the sight of Your disciples,
the cloud carried Your body away.
The gates in heaven were opened;
the choir of angels exalted and danced with joy;
the Powers on high cried out, saying:
Lift up your lintels, O gates,
that the King of glory may enter.
As for the disciples, they were seized with fear and said:
Do not leave us, O Good Shepherd,
but send down upon us your most Holy Spirit.

Glory… Now…

O Lord most merciful,
after fulfilling the mystery hidden from all eternity,
You, the Creator and Master of all,
went up to the Mount of Olives with your disciples and your Mother.
For the one who, at the sight of your Passion,
had suffered more than anyone else in her motherly heart,
had more than anyone else the right to share the joy that fills us
as we witness your ascending into heaven.
We glorify your infinite mercy overflowing upon us.

Aposticha

In Tone 2

O our God, You were born in a manner of your own choosing;
You appeared and suffered in the flesh as You willed;
You crushed Death through Your Resurrection and ascended into glory,
and You sent down the divine Spirit upon us.
Therefore, we sing a hymn of praise and glorify Your divinity.

All peoples, clap your hands; cry to God with shouts of joy!

O Christ, when the Powers of heaven
beheld Your Ascension from the Mount of Olives,
they wondered and exclaimed: Who is He?
And they heard the reply: He is the mighty Conqueror;
He is the mighty One in battle;
He is indeed the King of glory.
And why are His clothes crimson?
Because He comes from Bosor, which is the flesh.
As for You, O Christ, since You are God,
You are enthroned at the right hand of God the Father;
and You send down upon us the Holy Spirit
that He may enlighten us and save our souls.

God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.

O Christ, You ascended in glory
on the Mount of Olives in the presence of Your disciples;
You fill all things with Your divinity;
You were enthroned at the right hand of the Father
and sent down upon Your disciples the Holy Spirit
who enlightens, strengthens, and saves our souls.

In Tone 6, Glory… Now…

God goes up with shouts of joy,
the Lord goes up amid trumpet blast,
in order to raise up the fallen image of Adam
and to send down upon us the Holy Spirit,
the Comforter who will sanctify our souls.

Troparion

In Tone 4
You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* giving joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit,* and assuring them through Your blessing* that You are the Son of God,** the Redeemer of the world. (3)


DIVINE LITURGY

First Antiphon
Clap your hands, all you nations;* shout to God with the voice of joy.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour, save, us.
For the Lord most high is awesome,* a great king of all the earth.
Through the prayers…
He has subdued peoples to us,* and nations under our feet.
Through the prayers…
God ascended amid shouts of joy;* the Lord at the sound of the trumpet.
Through the prayers…
Glory… Now… Only-Begotten Son…

Third Antiphon
Hear these things all you nations, give ear, all inhabitants of the world.
Troparion, Tone 4: You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* giving joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit,* and assuring them through your blessing* that You are the Son of God,* the Redeemer of the world.
Both lowly-born and offspring of the privileged, rich and poor alike.
Troparion, Tone 4: You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* giving joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit,* and assuring them through your blessing* that You are the Son of God,* the Redeemer of the world.
My mouth shall speak wisdom and the meditation of my heart understanding.
Troparion, Tone 4: You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* giving joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit,* and assuring them through your blessing* that You are the Son of God,* the Redeemer of the world.

Entrance
God ascended amid shouts of joy;* the Lord at the sound of the trumpet.

Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 4: You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* giving joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit,* and assuring them through your blessing* that You are the Son of God,* the Redeemer of the world.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.

Kontakion, Tone 6:When you had fulfilled Your plan for us* and united things on earth with those in heaven,* You ascended in glory, O Christ our God,* in no way distant, but remaining in separable,* You cried to those who love You:* I am with You and there is none against you.

Prokeimenon, Tone 7
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;* above all the earth be Your glory.
verse: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. I will sing and make music in my glory.

Epistle
Acts 1:1-12

Alleluia, Tone 2
verse: God ascended amid shouts of joy; the Lord at the sound of the trumpet.
verse: Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with the voice of joy.

Gospel
Luke 24: 36-53

Hymn to the Mother of God
O my soul, magnify the Lord who in glory ascended bodily into the heavens.
O Mother of God,* you transcended both mind and word,* and in time, ineffably bore the Timeless One:* it is you who, with one accord,* we, the faithful, magnify.

Communion Hymn
God ascended amid shouts of joy;* the Lord at the sound of the trumpet.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia.

 

Notes:

Instead of We have seen the true light and Let our mouths be filled we sing: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, above all the earth be Your glory.

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