Greetings for the Ascension

“А́нгелом дивя́щимся восхо́да стра́нному, и ученико́ м ужаса́ ющимся стра́ шному взы́ тия, возше́л еси́ со сла́вою я́ко Бог, и врата́ Тебе́ взя́шася Спа́се. Сего́ ра́ди си́лы небе́сныя дивля́хуся вопию́ ще: сла́ва снизхожде́нию Твоему́ Спа́се, сла́ва ца́рствию Твоему́, сла́ва вознесе́нию Твоему́, Еди́не Человеколю́ бче.

While Angels gazed with wonder upon Thy dread Ascension, and while the disciples were awestruck as Thou from earth wast taken, O Saviour, as God Thou didst ascend in glory while the gates were raised for Thee. For this cause then did the Hosts of the heavens cry, while marvelling in amazement: Glory to Thy descent, O Saviour Christ. Glory to Thy Kingdom’s sovereignty. Glory be to Thine Ascension, O Thou only Friend of man.”

Kathisma hymn from festal matins

In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, Съ праздникомъ!

Greetings on this feast of the Ascension: a feast of double-wonder – the wonder of the apostles as they saw their Lord and Master translated in His risen humanity into the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the wonder of the heavenly hosts, as they beheld their Lord and Creator entering heaven in the very humanity He had created, and in which they had beheld Him laid in the Cave of Bethlehem, when Divine Love reached down from heaven to earth.

The Saviour’s Ascension is the consummation of this salvific journey of love, in which He not only descended to His creation, but even clothed Himself in that creation in His flesh, uniting Himself to humanity that had fallen in Adam and Eve, and was banished from Paradise.

But, the Saviour not only descended to earth in His earthly life, but by His sacrificial death descended even to the depths of Hades. Through His self-emptying and self-denying love, the Life-Giver descended into the realms of the dead to seek the lost, to rescue them and lead them to the bosom of the Father on high.

Mar Jacob of Serugh writes of the Creator-Saviour seeking out those whom He had made in His own image and likeness, rescuing His Image-bearing children from the chains and shackles by which death that held them captive in Hades.


“By death, He descended to the abyss of the dead, which swallowed Adam,

And like a brave swimmer He brought up the precious pearl.

He descended, explored the depths, visited the ones who were buried and sought for the lost ones,

He slept with the dead and laid His bed among those who have fallen asleep. He made there a speech of judgment with the Prince of Destruction,

and He asked from him the image of Adam, which was corrupted.

He descended to the depth of the abyss and sought there

the great likeness of the creative (power), which was perishing in hell.

He had done judgment to death in the land of death and asked for the image, and taking His own to come with pomp from perdition.

He conquered the Tyrant in his place and inspected his chamber,

and He took out the booty, which was gathered by him in his palace.

He unbound mercifully the bound ones and bound powerfully the Captor,

He returned mightily to the land of his Father.”


Having suffered in fleshly-unity with mankind, enduring His life-giving passion and death for the sake of humanity, and having descended to the nethermost regions in search of His children, His glorious translation from earth to heaven shows us that the annulment of the fall and the restoration of Adam is not simply by the conquering of death and His third-day Resurrection, but in the ascended glorification of thathumanity and its enthronement at the right hand of the Father.

This is the ultimate sign of God’s love, which calls mankind not to the earthly paradise from which fallen Adam and Eve were banished, but to the glory of heaven, where the Ascension exalts and enthrones humanity above all of the angelic ranks.

As children of God, we are called to holiness by our baptism into the Saviour’s death and Resurrection, and called to the heavenly kingdom by His glorious Ascension.

If we truly believe that “as many that have been baptised in Christ have put on Christ”, in faithfully living the Paschal mystery, the Ascension will call us to spiritual-labour, in a struggle for the Kingdom of Heaven, gained not by half-hearted Christian-nominalism, but only by dedication and spiritual force: the force of Faith, the force of prayer, the force of repentance – following in the foot-steps of  the Saviour as the Way, Who guides us to the Kingdom of Heaven by His glorious Ascension.

Our life must be a constant and forceful struggle for the kingdom of heaven, and whatever earthly worries or burdens we may have to endure or bear, the Ascension challenges us not be be earthbound and have our eyes fixed upon the clay from which we were formed, but to look heavenwards with hope and joy, as did the disciples, for…

“when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy. And truly great and unspeakable was their cause for joy, when in the sight of the holy multitude, above the dignity of all heavenly creatures, the Nature of mankind went up, to pass above the angels’ ranks and to rise beyond the archangels’ heights, and to have Its uplifting limited by no elevation until, received to sit with the Eternal Father, It should be associated on the throne with His glory, to Whose Nature It was united in the Son. Since then Christ’s Ascension is our uplifting, and the hope of the Body is raised, whither the glory of the Head has gone before, let us exult, dearly-beloved, with worthy joy and delight in the loyal paying of thanks. For today not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ’s unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil’s malice. For us, whom our virulent enemy had driven out from the bliss of our first abode, the Son of God has made members of Himself and placed at the right hand of the Father…” (St Leo the Great: Sermon 73, “On the Lord’s Ascension”)

The right hand of the Father in the Kingdom of Heaven is our inheritance, for which we must struggle with force, in hope, and with Faith, called and guided by the Saviour going before us, from whence He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead, and to where He will welcome His good faithful servants into the glory of the age to come, saying, 

“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

The Ascension is our promise and calling, so let us hear and act!


Posted in Homily/Sermon.