by Faye Akers, Director of Adult Faith Formation

These past few weeks as I’ve gone on walks with my husband or one of my daughters, I’ve spent more time than usual looking up at the sky. Maybe it’s because there are fewer airplanes in the midst of the pandemic, or maybe it’s because I’ve made the decision to be more intentional about noticing things.

The walking and biking paths in our neighborhood are lined with trees that have gone from empty branches to tiny buds to gorgeous, fragrant colored flowers to leaves all shades of green. And the sky provides the canvas that displays them all and gives me cause to contemplate my own call.

This week we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, in the Church’s liturgical calendar 40 days after Easter. It’s a day of hope, a reminder that we who believe will ascend to heaven just as Jesus did. This special day is scripturally based on Acts 1:6-11, which we’ll hear in Sunday’s first reading:

When they had gathered together they asked him,
Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established 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,
and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Over the past 10 years it’s been the Holy Spirit who has helped me grow in my faith and increase in my understanding of my baptismal call and my unique spiritual gifts. So I love that in this reading Jesus assures his followers it is the Holy Spirit who will come upon them and from whom they will receive power to be his witnesses after he is gone.

As I contemplate my own call, I appreciate that in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, God has provided me with little nudgings to look up at the sky and be more intentional about noticing the simple gifts of his creation.

Practice: A wonderful practice for the nine days between the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost Sunday is to participate in a Pentecost Novena. Here is a link contributed by our Becoming Catholic prayer team coordinator, Evette Dombrosky, to an online Pentecost Novena Retreat that begins on Friday, May 22.