Homily by Saint Augustine on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Garofalo – Ascension of Christ (1510-20)




















Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.

For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.

Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.

These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.

Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head.


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more keenly felt than heaven:
there is no place where earth’s failings
have such gracious judgement given.

There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that Christ has shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the eternal
is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be illumined,
by the glory of the Lord.

Frederick William Faber (1814-1863) 

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1 Response to Homily by Saint Augustine on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

  1. kathleen says:

    How many Catholics worldwide were able to celebrate the important feast of Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven on Thursday… the day it should be celebrated according to the Scriptures and Tradition?

    The modern post-V2 liturgy messed up there big time, moving feasts to following Sundays to (ahem) facilitate people’s obligations to hear Holy Mass on these feast days. Do they think we are sissies? What’s wrong with getting up an hour or so earlier on a weekday to go to the first Mass of the day before going off to work or school to celebrate beautiful feasts like the Ascension, Corpus Christi, Epiphany, etc.? My mother said she used to do that with my siblings and me, get us up early for Mass before school on feast days, although I can barely remember it. It would have been unthinkable not to do so. Then came the bad friuts of Vatican 2 and anything considered “too hard” was softened and weakened. Friday penances was another devotion most Catholics don’t even know or care about anymore.

    And so today, decades later, we have the result of this watering down of liturgy, devotions, penances… a largely indifferent Catholic population, many who do not fulfil even their Sunday Mass obligation, and with a staggering 60 to 70% who no longer believe in the Real Presence!


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