Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 4 : 1-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, Himself, Who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Ephesians 4 : 1-7, 11-13

Therefore, I, the prisoner of Christ, invite you, to live the vocation you have received. Be humble, kind, patient and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep among you, the unity of spirit, through bonds of peace. Let there be one body, and one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. One Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God, the Father of all, Who is above all, and works through all, and is in all.

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 1-11

In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when He ascended to heaven. But first He had instructed through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs that He was alive, over a period of forty days He appeared to them and taught them concerning the kingdom of God.

Once when He had been eating with them, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you : John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit within a few days.”

When they had come together, they asked Him, “Is it now that You will restore the Kingdom of Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven where He went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus Who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen Him go there.”

(Usus Antiquior) The Ascension of our Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : White

Offertory

Psalm 46 : 6

Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae, Alleluja.

English translation

God is ascended in jubilee, and the Lord with the sound of trumpet. Alleluia.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Suscipe, Domine, munera, quae pro Filii Tui gloriosa Ascensione deferimus : et concede propitius; ut a praesentibus periculis liberemur, et ad vitam perveniamus aeternam. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Receive, o Lord, the offerings which we bring for the glorious Ascension of Your Son, and grant in Your mercy that we may be delivered from present dangers and may attain unto life everlasting. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Preface of the Ascension

Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere : Domine, Sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus : per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Qui post resurrectionem suam omnibus discipulis suis manifestus apparuit et, ipsis cernentibus, est elevatus in caelum, ut nos divinitatis suae tribueret esse participes. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus cumque omni militia caelestis exercitus hymnum gloriae Tuae canimus, sine fine dicentes :

English translation

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to You, o holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord. He who after His resurrection very openly showed Himself to all His disciples, and in their sight was raised up to heaven, in order to give to us to be partakers of His Godhead. And therefore, with the angels and archangels, with the thrones and dominations, and with all the array of the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to Your glory and unceasingly repeat :

Communion

Psalm 67 : 33-34

Psallite Domino, qui ascendit super caelos caelorum ad Orientem, Alleluja.

English translation

Sing all of you to the Lord, who mounts above the heaven of heavens to the east. Alleluia.

Post-Communion Prayer

Praesta nobis, quaesumus, omnipotens et misericors Deus : ut, quae visibilibus mysteriis sumenda percepimus, invisibili consequamur effectu. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Grant, we beseech You, o Almighty and merciful God, that what we have received in visible mysteries, we may also obtain in their invisible effect. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) The Ascension of our Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : White

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Marcum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark

Mark 16 : 14-20

In illo tempore : Recumbentibus undecim discipulis, apparuit illis Jesus : et exprobravit incredulitatem eorum et duritiam cordis : quia iis, qui viderant eum resurrexisse, non crediderunt. Et dixit eis : Euntes in mundum universum, praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.

Qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit : qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur. Signa autem eos, qui crediderint, haec sequentur : In Nomine Meo daemonia ejicient : linguis loquantur novis : serpentes tollent : et si mortiferum quid biberint, non eis nocebit : super aegros manus imponent, et bene habebunt.

Et Dominus quidem Jesus, postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in caelum, et sedet a dextris Dei. Illi autem profecti, praedicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante et sermonem confirmante, sequentibus signis.

English translation

At that time, Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were at table, and He upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen again. And He said to them, “Go all of you to the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

“He who believes and is baptised shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow those who believe : In My Name they shall cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them, they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.”

And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into Heaven and sits on the right hand of God. But they go forth preaching everywhere, the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

(Usus Antiquior) The Ascension of our Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 6 and Psalm 67 : 18-19

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae.

Alleluja.

Response : Dominus in Sina in sancto, ascendens in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem. Alleluja.

English translation

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : God had ascended in jubilation, the Lord ascended with the voice of the trumpet.

Alleluia.

Response : The Lord is in Sinai, in His holy place, ascending on high. He had led captivity captive. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) The Ascension of our Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : White

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum – Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles

Acts 1 : 1-11

Primum quidem sermonem feci de omnibus, o Theophile, quae coepit Jesus facere et docere usque in diem, qua, praecipiens Apostolis per Spiritum Sanctum, quos elegit, assumptus est : quibus et praebuit seipsum vivum post passionem suam in multas argumentis, per dies quadraginta apparens eis et loquens de regno Dei.

Et convescens, praecepit eis, ab Jerosolymis ne discederent, sed exspectarent promissionem Patris, quam audistis (inquit) per os meum : quia Joannes quidem baptizavit aqua, vos autem baptizabimini Spiritu Sancto non post multos hos dies. Igitur qui convenerant, interrogabant eum, dicentes : Domine, si in tempore hoc restitues regnum Israel?

Dixit autem eis : Non est vestrum nosse tempora vel momenta, quae Pater posuit in sua potestate : sed accipietis virtutem supervenientis Spiritus Sancti in vos, et eritis mihi testes in Jerusalem et in omni Judaea et Samaria et usque ad ultimum terrae. Et cum haec dixisset, videntibus illis, elevatus est, et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum.

Cumque intueretur in caelum euntem illum, ecce, duo viri astiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis, qui et dixerunt : Viri Galilaei, quid statis aspicientes in caelum? Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in caelum, sic veniet, quemadmodum vidistis eum euntem in caelum.

English translation

The former treatise I made, o Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles whom He had chosen, He was taken up to whom He also showed Himself to be alive after His Passion by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them and speaking of the kingdom of God.

And eating together with them, He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard, (He said) by My mouth, for John indeed baptised with water, but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days hence. They therefore who had come together asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?”

But He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father had put in His own power, but you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.” And when He had said these things, while they looked on, He was raised up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

And while they were beholding Him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments, who also said, “All you men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven.”

(Usus Antiquior) The Ascension of our Lord (I Classis) – Thursday, 13 May 2021 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : White

Introit

Acts 1 : 11 and Psalm 46 : 2

Viri Galilaei, quid admiramini aspicientes in caelum? Alleluja : quemadmodum vidistis cum ascendentem in caelum, ita veniet. Alleluja, Alleluja, Alleluja.

Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus : jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

All you men of Galilee, why do you wonder, looking up to heaven? Alleluia. He shall come again just as you have seen Him going up into heaven. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

O clap your hands, all you nations, shout unto God with the voice of joy.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus : ut, qui hodierna die Unigenitum Tuum. Redemptorem nostrum, ad caelos ascendisse credimus : ipsi quoque mente in caelestibus habitemus. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Grant, we beseech You, o Almighty God, that, believing Your only-begotten, our Redeemer, to have ascended to heaven on this day, we, too, may spiritually dwell in heavenly places. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, Martyrs, and St. Pancras, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the truth which God has revealed to us through His Apostles and through the Holy Spirit by Whom He willingly taught us about Himself and all that He wants us to know, this same truth which He has passed on to the Apostles to His Church. He revealed all these to us because He wants us to put our trust in Him and turn away from our sinful ways so that we may be worthy of Him and be forgiven from our many sins and faults.

In our first reading today, we heard the accounts of St. Paul and his visit to Athens, in what is now Greece. Athens was a truly great and magnificent city, which influence and prestige was even more remarkable at the time of St. Paul. Although it was no longer as dominant and great as it was a few centuries earlier when it dominated much of Greece and the Aegean and Mediterranean region, Athens was still a great city and a major centre of learning and philosophy, having been renowned for its many thinkers and philosophers, such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle among others.

And Athens was also one of the main centres of Greek pagan beliefs, as one of its main cultural centre. At that time, when St. Paul visited Athens, it was truly a pagan city, with statues and idols of the Greco-Roman gods everywhere, and with most of its people believing strongly in their beliefs. It is with this context that St. Paul stood up in Areopagus, in the main venue where Athenians and others would come to discuss and debate matters as they had done so for centuries. He spoke courageously about the Lord, the One and only True God in that occasion.

St. Paul revealed before all the people that God was indeed truly the One true God, Who created all things and Who made all things happen. The Greco-Roman belief worshipped nature and its wonders, with gods corresponding to different parts of the natural world, such as the well known Zeus or Jupiter as the king of the gods and the ruler of the skies, of thunder and lightning, and Poseidon or Neptune as the god of the seas and horses, Hades or Pluto as the god of the dead and the underworld, Hera or Juno as the queen of the gods and the goddess of the family, Demeter or Ceres as the goddess of agriculture, and many others, too many to be discussed here.

And all these things, according to St. Paul, was not real gods as they were mankind’s representation of the natural world, of wonders and things that they could not comprehend and did not know. But all those things, be it the sun, the moon, the thunder, storms, and even death, all these are nothing more than just objects created by God. Hence, St. Paul pointed out to the Athenians that as they kept on wondering and debating on the truth of life, and worship those pagan gods and idols, there is the One true God Who would reveal to them the truth.

St. Paul therefore revealed that salvation has come from the Lord, Who sent His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as the Divine Word Incarnate, appearing in the flesh, as the true manifestation of divinity, revealing His truth to all. And that is why everyone has been called to the same truth, to know God Whom the Athenians ascribed as to the unknown God. St. Paul was making the Lord known to all those people who had not yet known Him. And we then heard the response from the people, many of whom made fun of him and refused to listen to the truth. Yet, there were some who were intrigued and interested by what St. Paul had said, and wanted him to speak to them more about the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord sent St. Paul to be one of His ministers in revealing the truth to His people, just as the other Apostles also went to various places to speak about the truth of God and the message of His salvation. St. Paul followed the Lord’s commands guided by the same Holy Spirit that the Lord promised His disciples as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. The Lord also gave us all the same Holy Spirit, and do you know that the same mission He has entrusted to His Apostles back then still apply to us as well? We are all called to continue the good works that the Apostles had begun.

In this present day world, all of us are called to be witnesses of the Lord in our respective communities, to reveal Him among all those whom we encounter in life through our own exemplary life and actions. By our commitment and dedication, we have a lot of potential and opportunities to reach out to many more people and let them know about the Lord and His truth, as what St. Paul had done in Athens and in various other places, revealing the truth about God with great courage. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to follow in his footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, who were martyrs of the faith during the time of the early Roman Empire, who were either soldiers who converted to the faith and then martyred for courageously standing by their faith, or as servants of the niece of the Roman Emperor, who herself was a convert to the Christian faith. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian at that time, Christians went through a period of harsh persecution, and many including St. Nereus and St. Achilleus were martyred, both of them by beheading.

Then today we also mark the feast of St. Pancras, another martyr of the faith who was only a young boy at the time when he was martyred. Born to Roman citizens in the region of Phrygia in Asia Minor, his parents passed on early and he was taken care of by a relative. And then during the great persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, as everyone were forced to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods, St. Pancras resisted and refused to do as ordered with determination. The Emperor, impressed with the young man’s determination, attempted to persuade him with wealth and power, but these were refused and thus St. Pancras was martyred.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard the inspiring lives of those faithful saints, our holy predecessors, then we should ask ourselves, what are we doing then in proclaiming the truth of God? Have we been genuine in our faith and have we dedicated ourselves to the Lord and His ways, even if we have to suffer persecution and trials for our commitment? If we have not lived our lives in the way we should according to our faith, then perhaps we should keep what we have heard in today’s Scripture passages in mind, as we discern how each and every one of us as Christians can live our lives more faithfully and be good role models and examples for those around us.

Let us all be inspired by St. Paul, the other saints and martyrs, especially St. Nereus and St. Achilleus, and St. Pancras. Let us seek the Lord with renewed vigour and be genuine disciples of His, following Him wholeheartedly and truly living our lives as He has taught and shown us how we should live our lives. May God be with us always and may He guide us in our journey of faith. Amen.