Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Holy Feast of Christ's Ascension

Icon of Christ's Ascension (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
The Lord Jesus passed forty days on earth after His Resurrection from the dead, appearing continually in various places to His disciples, with whom He also spoke, ate, and drank, thereby further demonstrating His Resurrection. On this Thursday, the fortieth day after Pascha, He appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment, that is, that they go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. But He also commanded them that for the present, they were not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them; and saying again the words of the Father's blessing, He was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven" (Acts 1:11). These words, in a complete and concise manner, declare what is taught in the Symbol of Faith concerning the Son and Word of God. Therefore, having so fulfilled all His dispensation for us, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God the Father. As for His sacred disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, rejoicing because Christ had promised to send them the Holy Spirit.

It should be noted that the Mount of Olives is a Sabbath's day journey from Jerusalem, that is, the distance a Jew was permitted to walk on the day of the Sabbath. Ecumenius writes, "A Sabbath day's journey is one mile in length, as Clement says in his fifth Stromatis; it is two thousand cubits, as the Interpretation of the Acts states." They draw this conclusion from the fact that, while they were in the wilderness, the Israelites of old kept within this distance from the Holy Tabernacle, whither they walked on the Sabbath day to worship God." (taken from:
Detail of Fresco of Christ's Ascension (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
Apolytikion of the Ascension in the Fourth Tone
O Christ our God, You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.

Kontakion. Model Melody. Tone 8.
[By St Romanos]
When you had fulfilled the dispensation for our sake and united things on earth with things in heaven, you were taken up in glory, Christ our God, in no way divided, but remaining inseparable, you cried to those who loved you, ‘I am with you, and there is no one against you.’

The Ikos
Abandoning on earth the things of earth, leaving to the dust the things of ash, now, let us come to our senses and raise on high our eyes and minds. Mortals, let us make our sight together with our senses fly heaven’s gates. Let us imagine we are standing on the Mount of Olives and that we bend our gaze on the Redeemer, as he rides up on a cloud. For, from where the Lord has hastened back to heaven, there too the One who loves to give has distributed his gifts to his Apostles, cherishing them as a father and confirming them, guiding them as sons and saying to them, ‘I am not parting from you. I am with you, and there is no one against you.’

Detail of Fresco of Christ's Ascension (Icon courtesy of used with permission)
Prosomia of the Praises - Tone 1 - Joy of the heavenly hosts.
Let us in the world keep festival like the Angels, for God who is borne upon a throne of glory, as we cry aloud the hymn: Holy are you, heavenly Father; holy are you, co-eternal Son; holy are you, all-holy Spirit.

The princes of the Angels, Saviour, as they saw the strangeness of your ascent, were perplexed and said to one another, ‘What is this sight? Human he seems in form, yet as God he ascends with a body far above the heavens’.

The men of Galilee, seeing you, O Word, taken up from the mount of Olives with a body, heard Angels crying out to them, ‘Why do you stand gazing? He will come again in the flesh in the same way that you have seen him’.

Fresco of Christ's Ascension (Icon courtesy of used with permission)

Doxastikon of the Praises - Tone 2.
You were born, as you yourself willed; you appeared, as you yourself wished; you suffered in the flesh, O our God; you rose from the dead, having trampled on death; you were taken up in glory, who fill the universe, and you sent us the divine Spirit, that we might hymn and glorify your Godhead.
(taken from:
The Holy Ascension of Christ (
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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