The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for the Ascension of the Lord/Cycle A is Matthew 28:16-20.

Following His miraculous Resurrection from the dead and spending 40 days with His disciples in preparation for His departure, Christ gathers the 11 remaining Apostles (Judas Iscariot has committed suicide) for the final time. Christ directed the Apostles to meet Him in Galilee, where He first called and formed them; Christ’s choice of gathering the Apostles on a mountain in Galilee symbolically reminds them of His Sermon on the Mount which summarizes His Gospel that they will not be commanded to proclaim.

Dutifully meeting Christ as directed, the Apostle fall to their knees in awe and worship Him; some of the Apostles, still uncertain and confused, have harbored doubts. Christ knows their doubts and reaffirms that God the Father has given all authority in Heaven and on earth to the Son; the Apostles, steeped in Scriptures, probably realize Christ is confirming the royal power given to the Son of Man (Dan 7:13-14) and their doubts are lessened. Christ, in His resurrected and glorified body, has lordship over the universe.

Speaking from His position of divine authority, Christ now gives His final commandments to the Apostles, the 11 men He has hand-picked and formed to establish His Holy Catholic Church. Christ instructs them to make disciples of “all nations”, confirming that He expects the Apostles (and all men who follow Him) to evangelize every single soul in the entire world. Establishing the authority and mission of His Apostolic Catholic Church, Christ directs the Apostles to evangelize in the name of the Trinity and affirms the centrality of the Sacraments (Baptism), His teachings (the Gospel), and the essential requirement to keep “all” the commandments (moral life). Christ promises to be with the Apostles “always”, giving them life and allowing them to bear fruit in Him.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Son of Man, Christ is resurrected and glorified and has complete dominion over all Creation; He ascends to Heaven. Person of the Trinity, Christ speaks with the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Divine Prophet, Christ fulfills His own prophecies of His Death, Resurrection, Ascension and the establishment of a worldwide Church. As Divine King, Christ sends His Apostles (literally, “those sent”) to evangelize the world.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Reflect upon the unfathomable power that Christ has: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”

2) In the chaos of the post-Protestant Revolt and poor Catholic formation, some Catholic men wander away from Christ’s One, Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church, mistakenly walking away from the the fullness of truth and the life-giving Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. During Easter, renew and strengthen your understanding of Christ’s One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (CCC 811-870) and pray for Christ to guide you to draw men to His Church.

3) As Christ sent the Apostles, so too is every man sent out to build Christ’s kingdom at every Mass; the term, “Mass” comes from the Latin words (Ite missa set) spoken at the end of Mass which mean “to be sent”. During Easter, reflect upon Christ’s final direction to men to “make disciples” (CCC 767-768; 849-856) and pray for Christ to strengthen and guide you do do His will.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently

The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter is John 16:20-23.

Christ continues His Farewell Discourse (John 13:31-16:33) in Jerusalem during Holy Week, preparing the Apostles for their mission after His departure. After revealing how the Holy Spirit will bless and fortify the men with Christ’s word, Christ again acknowledges the sorrow the Apostles will soon experience and assures them of the lasting joy to come.

Christ, the Perfection of Love, perfectly empathizes with the sorrows the Apostles will soon face; He recognizes the Apostles will be distraught (weeping, lamenting) at His Passion. But just as Christ perfectly understands the sorrowful emotions of the Apostles, He also perfectly understands the motivations and seething hate of the evil who will perversely rejoice at His murder.

Ever the King, Christ plants the seeds of hope and healing to fortify the Apostles during their trial. Christ promises the Apostles will experience joy, drawing an allegory of childbirth which is a painful experience but which ultimately results in the extreme joy of new life; so too, Christ’s Passion will lead to anguish and His Resurrection will lead to everlasting joy, a joy that will blot out the Apostle’s anguish. Christ acknowledges the Apostles will grieve but promises He will return and give them unshakeable joy. Because of His return to and unity with the Father, Christ assures the Apostles they will receive everything they request of the Father when they pray in Christ’s name.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is unified with the Father and the Father grants prayers in the Son’s name. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of empathy, knowing the sorrow His Apostles will experience. Divine Prophet, Christ offers a preview of the suffering the disciples will experience at His death and the joy they will experience at the Resurrection. Divine Teacher, Christ offers a powerful metaphor of the Crucifixion and Resurrection that men (and even more so women) can understand; the pain of women in childbirth and the joy of new life in children.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Consider the stunning truth that Christ has perfect insight into the deepest thoughts and emotions of every man, both the good and the evil. Pray for His mercy.

2) Because the world hates Christ, evil is in the world (murder of the innocent, sexual perversion, destruction of marriage, government and corporate corruption,  evil in the Church, etc.); good men can wonder, “Where is God?” During Easter, review the Church’s teaching on Providence and the Scandal of Evil (CCC 309-314) and take heart, knowing that Christ has things well in hand; pray for Christ’s will to be done.

3) Jesus instructs men to pray in His Name and He promises to grant men’s prayers. During Easter, renew your commitment to pray in the Name of Jesus (CCC 430-435, 2665-2669, 2746-2751), confident Jesus will answer your prayers consistent with God’s will.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries

Christ continues His Farewell Discourse (John 13:31-16:33) in Jerusalem during Holy Week, preparing the Apostles for their mission after His departure. After revealing He is sending the Holy Spirit, Christ reaffirms the Trinity and offers His final teaching on how the Holy Spirit will bless and fortify the men with Christ’s word.

Christ knows the Apostles can not absorb (“can not bear”) everything He could explain to them; they are anxious, can not conceive of Christ’s Passion and have not received the Holy Spirit. Rather than rebuke them, Christ encourages them by again promising He will send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will guide the Apostles to truth, helping Christ’s Gospel penetrate and reside in their souls, fortifying them against the evil lies of Satan (John 8:44).

Christ reveals the Holy Spirit does not speak on His own authority, but speaks what He is told by the Father and the Son; in speaking the words of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies glorifies them. Christ has been given the Gospel by the Father and the Holy Spirit will proclaim Christ’s Gospel without error to the Apostles and men in the future.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ has been given the Father’s truth and relies on the Holy Spirit to proclaim His truth after the Ascension. Divine King, Christ knows the limits of His men and supernaturally prepares them through the Holy Spirit. Divine Prophet, Christ will send the Holy Spirit to enlighten and protect the Church at Pentecost.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Be awed by how Christ knows the state of the Apostles and puts a plan (sending the Holy Spirit) in place to strengthen them and future Catholic men.

2) Christ sends the Holy Spirit to guarantee the Church will not corrupt the Gospel. During Easter, marvel at Christ’s protection of His Church (CCC 767-768, 888-892) and pray for the pope, bishops and priests, deacons and religious to remain faithful to Christ.

3) Like the Apostles, every man needs the Holy Spirit to help them overcome sin and grow in understanding of Christ. During Easter, pray for the Holy Spirit to remove spiritual barriers (weakness, anger, fear, unbelief, lust, sloth, ignorance) and fill you with the Desires of the Spirit (CCC 2541-2543) so that you can draw closer to Christ.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – Saint Joseph

Virtue of the Day – Temperance

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the imprisoned

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To comfort the sorrowful

Christ continues His Farewell Discourse (John 13:31-16:33) in Jerusalem during Holy Week, preparing the Apostles for their mission after His departure. After confirming the coming prosecution to those who proclaim His Gospel and revealing He is sending the Holy Spirit, Christ further explains His departure and the impact and blessings of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Despite being with God for over three years, His Apostles are acting unmanly, uncertain and emotional. Christ gently rebukes the Apostle’s anxiety and sorrow about His departure and the coming persecutions. But Christ also comforts them by explaining the blessings of His departure: when Christ departs, He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell with men and fortify them with His truth so they can fearlessly proclaim Christ and withstand the certain persecutions by those who rebel against the Father and Son.

In addition to the comfort of the Holy Spirit, Christ reveals the powerful impact the Holy Spirit will have as part of God’s glorious plan of Salvation. Christ explains the Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin; the coming of the Holy Spirit will confirm Christ’s proclamations about sin through the Catholic Church.  The Holy Spirit will also cause the widespread understanding of Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension to the Father. The Holy Spirit will act to judge the world (Satan and those who hate Christ).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ has the Perfect Knowledge to know what is best for men.  Divine King, Christ understands, rebukes and strengthens His men for the coming persecutions and lays the groundwork for the Holy Catholic Church. Divine Prophet, Christ patiently and clearly explains some of the mysterious actions of the Holy Spirit in the world. Divine Judge, Christ confirms that He will judge the world in the Holy Spirit.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at how Christ, through His purposeful experience as the Son of Man, has deep understanding and compassion for the anxieties and sorrows of the Apostles and how He acts to comfort and strengthen them.

2) In a world where more and more sins are considered “no big deal” and perversions are pridefully celebrated, the Holy Spirit protects those close to Christ of being lulled into sin. During Easter, grow in your commitment to resist the temptations of the Fallen World (CCC 385-421) and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to protect and guide you to charity.

3) Each man is a heartbeat away from death and his Judgment. During Easter, grow in Interior Penance (CCC 1430-1433) and pray for the Holy Spirit to continually convince you about the need to battle sin and to regularly go to Confession (at least monthly).

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Guardian Angels

Virtue of the Day – Justice

Corporal Work of Mercy – To clothe the naked

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To counsel the doubtful

Christ continues His Farewell Discourse (John 13:31-16:33) in Jerusalem during Holy Week, preparing the Apostles for their mission after His departure. After confirming the coming prosecution to those who proclaim His Gospel and revealing He is sending the Holy Spirit to guide and help men, Christ indicts the Jewish leadership for their hatred and persecution (v. 22-25; omitted from the Lectionary), which is a rebellion against the Father.

Christ again promises to send the Holy Spirit, whom He again (John 14:16-17) calls the “Counselor” (Paraclete, meaning “He who is called to one’s side”) and the “Spirit of truth”; the Holy Spirit will make Christ, who is truth itself (John 14:6), present to men. Sent from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit will bear witness to Christ in the hearts of men who love and keep His commandments. Christ challenges the Apostles to also bear witness (to testify) for Him in the world, just as the Holy Spirit does.

Christ warns the Apostles that when they testify to Christ’s Truth, they will be be persecuted, outcast from society and even put to death; men will justify their murderous actions with the outrageous claim that they are serving God. Christ affirms the world’s hatred is because men reject the Father and the Son. Christ specifically warns the men of the coming persecutions to strengthen them so they do not fall away.

Awed by Jesus Christ – Person of the Trinity, Christ has Divine Power to remain present in the world by the sending of the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Divine Prophet, Christ’s foresees the coming persecutions and describes them in detail. Divine King, Christ prepares His men to bear witness to Him and to strengthen them in the coming persecutions.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, the greatest leader of men in history, anticipates the challenges of evangelists and strengthens men to withstand persecution by sending the Holy Spirit. Be awed.

2) To “testify” (related root words include “testes”, “to witness to truth” and “martyr”) for Christ in the increasingly intolerant and sin-loving world is a heroically manly act. During Easter, reconfirm your commitment to be a fearless witness for Christ (CCC 2087, 2471-2474) and pray for Christ to strengthen you to bear witness to Him.

3) To withstand the attacks on His men who testify to the Truth, Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit.  During Easter, recommit to pray for the Holy Spirit (CCC 2670-2672) and ask Christ to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in the face of rejection and persecution.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant