Friday, June 3, 2011

The Ascension

Well, I'm a day late in posting about the Ascension.

Here's something by John Henry Newman on the subject:
Christ is already in that place of peace, which is all in all. He is on the right hand of God. He is hidden in the brightness of the radiance which issues from the everlasting throne. He is in the very abyss of peace, where there is no voice of tumult or distress, but a deep stillness--stillness, that greatest and most awful of all goods which we can fancy; that most perfect of joys, the utter profound, ineffable tranquillity of the Divine Essence.
The real message of the Ascension is not that Christ has "gone" to another "place" but that he is the "All in all" - that is, he can no longer be located in a specific place. It is the great doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ.


  1. It seems ironic that, having had to go through my own journey dealing with gender issues and God, etc; and being now for many years a priest who must needs repeat the “Our Father, who art . . .” and “who with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, etc.,” that I have come to the place where speaking of Christ as ‘he’ feels like imposing limitedness upon ubiquitousness (if I may coin that word). For ubiquitous feels to me to be exactly the right word for describing Christ. And it makes the term Christ synonymous with or at least in some kind of alignment with a variety of expressions, some of which include ‘God,’ ‘love,’ ‘omnipresent’, ‘ground of being’, ‘core of being’. I found this quote from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “God is never an object of isolation but the very core of your being,” and “In the Upanishads, it is said kham kham brahma - the space is God, in which every thing is and into which everything dissolves.” I am not a student of other religions, and yet now, when I hear “Christ” spoken, I think not primarily of Jesus – who was, I believe, a man - who evoked among his followers an awareness of God. Rather I think of, as you have expressed it Sr. Ellie, that reality that is at once ubiquitous and the essence of all that is good and right. Losing the personal pronoun ‘he’, such is what I hear in these words of John Henry Newman.

  2. I get it. The pronoun is jarring to me as well.

    And, yet I value being able to read material that was written before so many of us became sensitized in that way.

    I love the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar quotation that you offer here!

  3. Yes, you are right about being able to value material written before. There are also so many times when it is difficult, without the neuter, to speak of some things without the awkward 'him/her' or plural 'they,' when what is needed is a singular. I suppose that is one way language changes over time. Perhaps eventually 'they' could be accepted as the correct expression for either singular or plural. But, for those who at least value the idea of correct grammar, likely not until several generations following your mother have permanently taken up residence in "the very abyss of peace." ; )

  4. I know what you mean.

    I really think that "they" is going to do the trick and there's a precedent for that. Originally "you" was plural (for example, we say "you are") and now we use it for both singular and plural. The words "they" and "their" are already evolving in that direction.


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