Happy Feast of the Ascension!!! Forty days after our Lord's Resurrection, He ascends to heaven and He will return in the same manner! I was looking for pictures and stumbled across Ad Imaginem Dei: Iconography of the Ascension, Part III of IV -- The Disappearing Feet. Can you see the footprints left behind? I don't have a foot fetish (except for babies' feet that I love to nibble on), but what delight to seeing His Feet. We follow in His footsteps and where He is, there I will go! And I want to bring as many people with me as possible :) We begin our novena to the Holy Ghost in preparation for Pentecost!
from the Egmont Breviary
Dutch (Utrecht), 1435-1445
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who have taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
I simply cannot get over all the graces that have been pouring down upon us this Easter season. God is so good to us. We have much to celebrate--Dagny's graduation (magna cum laude) from Ave Maria University, reunions, birthdays, feast days. The Baccalaureate Mass was so lovely. The bishop reminded us the purpose of Catholic education, which is to declare the Lordship of Christ. Our lives are to be Christ-centered, to let Him reign in our homes, our work, our communities, but especially in our hearts, minds, souls. We are to be light and salt. The world today rejects Christ, thinking Him as a myth. They challenge the Resurrection. But it really happened. The Apostles were startled, but they couldn't deny the truth. They knew Him, they loved Him, and they died for Him, following Him, in imitation of Him. The bishop exhorted us to continue developing our gifts from God, using them in all the spheres of our lives, and to sanctify the world. May God be praised. I was too far from the Altar but my attention alternated between the Crucifix and and the Tenth Station of the Cross, where Jesus is stripped of His garments. And in the quiet, I remembered St. Alphonsus Ligouri's prayer: My innocent Jesus, / by the torment You suffered in being stripped of Your garments,
/ help me to strip myself of all attachment for the things of earth / that I may place all my
love in You who are so worthy of my love. / I love You, O Jesus, with all my heart; / I am
sorry for ever having offended You. / Never let me offend You again. / Grant that I may
love You always; and then do with me as You will. Amen. Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ave Maria University, gave the closing remark to the kids: Hear Mass as often as you can; pray the rosary daily; go to confession monthly. And if you don't know why, you've wasted four years here. His story is so inspiring.
At the dinner afterwards, there were awards and one of the recipients from the previous year, Begonia Avila, spoke so honestly about the challenges of living in a world that's opposed to Christ. She said to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty, to trust in God. When He is the center of one's life, everything else falls into place. There is power and peace that comes from an ordered life. I loved that she spoke about pursuing Him and allowing Him to pursue you--indeed Christian life is a love affair. She closed with the sentiment that her time at Ave as a foretaste of heaven (truly it is, even the short time we were there).
Dr. Maria Fedoryka, chosen by the graduates to represent them, closed the celebration with a lecture: Against Modern Secularism. It was so beautiful to partake in her joy and hope, which are supernatural gifts from heaven; however, she focused her lecture on natural joy that modern secularism strives to rob us of. She encouraged us to exercise our imaginations with poetry and art, to allow ourselves to be enchanted with beauty, even in our humdrum, ordinary lives. She's such a marvelous teacher--Dagny's favorite--and how I wish I could've been a student in Maria's class. By the way, her husband, Roy Schoeman, wrote the brilliant book: Salvation is from the Jews: the Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming. I had a chance to personally thank him because this book was, and continues to be, instrumental in our ongoing conversion and he said he was compelled to write it. If he put it aside, he'd fall into darkness and depression. Deo gratias!
We stayed at a farmhouse and what a blessing to be outdoors with the animals, esp. the kittens--just 2 wks old. Mama cat was very relaxed and enjoyed being petted while she nursed her kittens. I especially enjoyed giving the runts extra time with their mama. Michael and the kids enjoyed the fresh eggs. I had a taste of my childhood when our host offered us fresh sugarcane. So without any apology, numerous kitten pictures follow, and who knows, I just might have to post a random kitten picture on my blog for no reason except for the joy it brings. Enjoy! I was also delighted by some of the artwork and a working record player. Remember those?
Graduation day was HOT! A breeze kept us comfortable during commencement exercises. The new President, Mark Middendorf, opened with the exhortation to spend time in Adoration. This is what friends do; they spend time together. Jesus asked for this, on the night before He died. He didn't ask us to fast for 40 days or pray all night like He did. He asked us, "Could you not spend an hour with Me?"
Patrick Lencioni gave the keynote address and he exhorted the students to be afraid. Be very afraid! Because of how easy it is to get choked by the pleasures and cares of the world (remember the Parable of the Sower). Even good things can keep us away from Christ. How well he knows it. We might assume that he was invited to speak because of his worldly success, but it is in spite of it. He led a lukewarm life, chasing the next thing, but he wasn't happy. The day he chose God changed his life. The strings that had turned into chains were broken. He was free. So he encouraged us to all to stand firm in Truth. Ask for the grace to want only God. To do His will. Amen! How I will miss visiting Ave Maria--from that first time when I smelled the orange blossoms during spring break to the chant workshop, Max's graduation and now Dagny's graduation, may our Lord see it fit for me to return again to Ave Maria. What a gift to see our children grow in their studies and their faith at a time when they still had doubts. Our Lady took them under her wing--they belong to her and she always leads them to her Son. Deo gratias. Alleluia! Sunday was Dagny's birthday and we heard Mass at St. Agnes. And who should be celebrating the beautiful High Mass but Ave Maria's own recent graduate--Fr. Joseph Lugalambi--who received his Ph.D. in Theology. I remembered how all the kids and faculty gave him a standing ovation when he was hooded the day before. It's clear he's made a huge impact at Ave Maria. Today is our sweet old dog's birthday--she's 15 years old.