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With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. For such is the power of great minds, such is the light of truly believing souls, that they put unhesitating faith in what is not seen with the bodily eye; they fix their desires on what is beyond sight.

Such fidelity could never be born in our hearts, nor could anyone be justified by faith, if our salvation lay only in what was visible. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high. It is a faith that has driven out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead. Yet they made such progress through his ascension that they now found joy in what had terrified them before. Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him.

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. 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. 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.

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.


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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. Skip to main content. Start Here New to the Parish? Looking to Register as a Parishioner? Interested in Becoming Catholic? Wondering About Mass and Confession Times? Hence it is written Acts , that "He showed Himself alive after His Passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them": upon which the gloss says that "because He was dead for forty hours, during forty days He established the fact of His being alive again.

Or the forty days may be understood as a figure of this world, wherein Christ dwells in His Church: inasmuch as man is made out of the four elements, and is cautioned not to transgress the Decalogue. For, it is written Ps. Therefore it belongs to Christ to ascend into heaven as God. Objection 2: Further, it belongs to the same person to ascend into heaven as to descend from heaven, according to Jn. Therefore it seems that Christ ascended into heaven as God. But it was not as man that He rose to equality with the Father; for in this respect He says: "He is greater than I," as is said in Jn.

Therefore it seems that Christ ascended as God. On the contrary, on Eph.


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I answer that, The expression "according to" can denote two things; the condition of the one who ascends, and the cause of his ascension. When taken to express the condition of the one ascending, the Ascension in no wise belongs to Christ according to the condition of His Divine Nature; both because there is nothing higher than the Divine Nature to which He can ascend; and because ascension is local motion, a thing not in keeping with the Divine Nature, which is immovable and outside all place.

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Yet the Ascension is in keeping with Christ according to His human nature, which is limited by place, and can be the subject of motion. In this sense, then, we can say that Christ ascended into heaven as man, but not as God.

The Nature Of The Ascension Climb

But if the phrase "according to" denote the cause of the Ascension, since Christ ascended into heaven in virtue of His Godhead, and not in virtue of His human nature, then it must be said that Christ ascended into heaven not as man, but as God. Hence Augustine says in a sermon on the Ascension: "It was our doing that the Son of man hung upon the cross; but it was His own doing that He ascended.

Reply to Objection 1: These utterances were spoken prophetically of God who was one day to become incarnate. Still it can be said that although to ascend does not belong to the Divine Nature properly, yet it can metaphorically; as, for instance, it is said "to ascend in the heart of man" cf. Reply to Objection 2: He who ascended is the same as He who descended. For Augustine says De Symb.

The God-Man. Who is it that ascends? The self-same God-Man. And there is another descent whereby He descended "into the lower regions of the earth," as is written Eph. Reply to Objection 3: Christ is said to ascend to the Father, inasmuch as He ascends to sit on the right hand of the Father; and this is befitting Christ in a measure according to His Divine Nature, and in a measure according to His human nature, as will be said later Q[58], A[3]. Whether Christ ascended by His own power?

Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not ascend by His own power, because it is written Mk. Consequently, it was not by His own power, but by another's that Christ was taken up into heaven. Objection 2: Further, Christ's was an earthly body, like to ours. But it is contrary to the nature of an earthly body to be borne upwards.

Moreover, what is moved contrary to its nature is nowise moved by its own power. Therefore Christ did not ascend to heaven by His own power. Objection 3: Further, Christ's own power is Divine. But this motion does not seem to have been Divine, because, whereas the Divine power is infinite, such motion would be instantaneous; consequently, He would not have been uplifted to heaven "while" the disciples "looked on," as is stated in Acts Therefore, it seems that Christ did not ascend to heaven by His own power.

On the contrary, It is written Is. But we do not read of our Saviour being lifted up either in a chariot or by angels, because He who had made all things was taken up above all things by His own power. I answer that, There is a twofold nature in Christ, to wit, the Divine and the human. Hence His own power can be accepted according to both. Likewise a twofold power can be accepted regarding His human nature: one is natural, flowing from the principles of nature; and it is quite evident that Christ did not ascend into heaven by such power as this. The other is the power of glory, which is in Christ's human nature; and it was according to this that He ascended to heaven.

Now there are some who endeavor to assign the cause of this power to the nature of the fifth essence. This, as they say, is light, which they make out to be of the composition of the human body, and by which they contend that contrary elements are reconciled; so that in the state of this mortality, elemental nature is predominant in human bodies: so that, according to the nature of this predominating element the human body is borne downwards by its own power: but in the condition of glory the heavenly nature will predominate, by whose tendency and power Christ's body and the bodies of the saints are lifted up to heaven.

But we have already treated of this opinion in the FP, Q[76], A[7], and shall deal with it more fully in treating of the general resurrection XP, Q[84], A[1].

Setting this opinion aside, others assign as the cause of this power the glorified soul itself, from whose overflow the body will be glorified, as Augustine writes to Dioscorus Ep. For the glorified body will be so submissive to the glorified soul, that, as Augustine says De Civ.

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Dei xxii , "wheresoever the spirit listeth, thither the body will be on the instant; nor will the spirit desire anything unbecoming to the soul or the body. Consequently, Christ's body ascended into heaven by the power of His soul willing it. But as the body is made glorious by participation with the soul, even so, as Augustine says Tract. Therefore Christ ascended into heaven by His own power, first of all by His Divine power, and secondly by the power of His glorified soul moving His body at will.

Reply to Objection 1: As Christ is said to have risen by His own power, though He was raised to life by the power of the Father, since the Father's power is the same as the Son's; so also Christ ascended into heaven by His own power, and yet was raised up and taken up to heaven by the Father.

Reply to Objection 2: This argument proves that Christ did not ascend into heaven by His own power, i. His Divine power, as well as by His own power, i. And although to mount upwards is contrary to the nature of a human body in its present condition, in which the body is not entirely dominated by the soul, still it will not be unnatural or forced in a glorified body, whose entire nature is utterly under the control of the spirit.

The Nature Of The Ascension Climb

Reply to Objection 3: Although the Divine power be infinite, and operate infinitely, so far as the worker is concerned, still the effect thereof is received in things according to their capacity, and as God disposes. Now a body is incapable of being moved locally in an instant, because it must be commensurate with space, according to the division of which time is reckoned, as is proved in Physics vi.

Consequently, it is not necessary for a body moved by God to be moved instantaneously, but with such speed as God disposes. Whether Christ ascended above all the heavens? Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not ascend above all the heavens, for it is written Ps. Therefore Christ did not ascend above all the heavens.

Further, there is no place above the heavens, as is proved in De Coelo i. But every body must occupy a place. Therefore Christ's body did not ascend above all the heavens. Objection 3: Further, two bodies cannot occupy the same place. Since, then, there is no passing from place to place except through the middle space, it seems that Christ could not have ascended above all the heavens unless heaven were divided; which is impossible.