The Ascension —Maria Valtorta

(...)The dawn has fully broken. Already the sun is high and the apostles make their voices heard. It is a sign for Jesus and Mary. They stop. They look at each other, the One in front of the Other, and then Jesus opens his arms and receives his Mother to his breast.... Oh, if it was a Man, a Son of a Woman! To believe it, it is enough to look at this farewell! Love overflows in a shower of kisses to his most beloved Mother. Love covers the most beloved Son with kisses. It seems that they cannot separate. When it seems that they are about to do so, another embrace unites them again, and, between the kisses, words of reciprocal blessing? Oh, truly it is the Son of Man bidding farewell to the Woman who gave birth to him! Truly it is the Mother bidding farewell - to restore him to the Father - to her Son, the Pledge of Love to the Most Pure One!... God kissing the Mother of God!....

Finally, the Woman, as a creature, kneels at the feet of her God, who is, in any case, her Son; and the Son, who is God, lays his hands on the head of the Virgin Mother, of the eternal Beloved, and blesses her in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and then bends down and lifts her up; finally, he places a last kiss on her white forehead like a lily petal under the gold of her hair (still so young!)....

They return to the house, and no one, seeing with what serenity they walk beside each other, would think of the wave of love that shortly before has overflowed them.But what a difference also, in this farewell, from the sadness of other farewells already overcome, and from the heartbreaking grief of the Mother's farewell to her Son who had been put to death and had to be left alone in the Sepulcher!.... In this farewell -although the eyes shine with that weeping which is natural in one who is to separate from her Beloved- the lips smile with the joy of knowing that this Beloved is going to the Abode which by reason of His Glory corresponds to Him....

-Lord! Outside are, between the mountain and Bethany, all those whom, as you had said to your Mother, you wanted to bless today - says Peter.

-Peter said, "Good. Now let us go to them. But first come. I want to break bread with you once more.

They went into the room where the women had been ten days earlier for supper on the fourteenth day of the month. Mary accompanies Jesus there; then she goes away. Jesus and the eleven remain.

On the table there is roast meat, small cheeses and small black olives, an amphora of wine and another, larger one, of water, and wide loaves of bread. A simple table, not set for a fancy ceremony, but only for the need of nourishment.

Jesus offers and divides. He is in the center, between Peter and James of Alphaeus.He has called them to these places. John, Judas of Alphaeus and James are in front of Him; Thomas, Philip and Matthew, on one side; Andrew, Bartholomew and the Zealot, on the other side. Thus, all can see their Jesus.... A short and silent meal. The apostles, on the last day of Jesus' closeness, and in spite of the successive apparitions, collective or individual, since the Resurrection, apparitions full of love, have not lost for a moment that most devout composure that has characterized their encounters with the Risen Jesus.

The meal is over. Jesus opens his hands above the table, with his usual gesture in the face of an ineluctable fact, and says:

-Well... The hour has come when I must leave you to return to my Father. Listen to the last words of your Master.

Do not depart from Jerusalem in these days. Lazarus, with whom I have spoken, has once more taken care to carry out the wishes of his Master, and he gives you the house of the Last Supper, so that you may have a house in which to gather the assembly and collect yourselves in prayer. Stay in this house during these days and pray assiduously to prepare yourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit, who will complete you for your mission. Remember that I - and it was God - prepared myself with a severe penance for my evangelizing ministry. Your preparation will always be easier and shorter.

But I demand no more of you. It is enough for me that you pray assiduously, in union with the seventy-two and under the guidance of my Mother, whom I entrust to you with filial solicitude. She will be for you Mother and Teacher, of perfect love and wisdom.

I could have sent you elsewhere to prepare you to receive the Holy Spirit. But no. I want you to remain here. I want you to remain here. Because it is Jerusalem that denied, it is Jerusalem that must admire the continuation of the divine prodigies, given in response to her denials. Then the Holy Spirit will make you understand the necessity for the Church to arise precisely in this city, which, judging humanly, is the most unworthy to have the Church. But Jerusalem is still Jerusalem, in spite of being full of sin and in spite of the fact that deicide has taken place here. Nothing will benefit her. She is condemned. But even if she is condemned, not all her inhabitants are. Remain here for the sake of the few righteous in her bosom; remain here because this is the royal city and the city of the Temple, and because, as the prophets foretold, here, where the King Messiah has been anointed, acclaimed and exalted, here must begin his sovereignty in the world, and here, and here, in this place where God has given the libel of repudiation to the synagogue because of its too horrendous crimes, must arise the new Temple to which people of all nations will flock.

Read the prophets (Isaiah 2:1-5; 49:5-6; 55:4-5; 60; Micah 4:1-2; Zechariah 8:20-23). Everything is foretold in them. First my Mother, then the Spirit of the Paraclete, will make you understand the words which the prophets spoke for this time.

Remain here until Jerusalem repudiates you as it has repudiated me, until it hates my Church as it has hated me and devises plans to exterminate it. Then take the seat of this beloved Church of mine to another place,

for it must not perish. I tell you that not even Hell will prevail against it. But if God assures you of His protection, do not for that reason tempt Heaven by demanding everything from Heaven. Go to Ephraim, as your Master was, for it was not the hour for him to be captured by the enemies. I say to you Ephraim to tell you a land of idols and heathens. But it will not be the Ephraim of Palestine that you must choose as the seat of my Church. Remember how many times I have spoken to you, either to you as a congregation or to one of you individually, foretelling you that you would have to tread the paths of the earth to reach the heart of it and to establish my Church there. From the heart of man, the blood spreads to all the members. From the heart of the world, Christianity must spread to the whole Earth.

For now my Church is like a creature already conceived but still forming in the womb

Jerusalem is its womb, and within it the heart, still small, around which the few members of the nascent Church congregate, sends its little waves of blood to these members. But, when the hour appointed by God arrives, the stepmother womb will expel the creature that will have been formed in her womb and this will go to a new land, where it will grow and become a great Body spread over the whole Earth, and the beats of the strong heart of the Church will spread throughout her great Body. The heartbeats of the heart of the Church, broken all the ties of the Church with the Temple, eternal and victorious over the ruins of the Temple that is finished and destroyed, of the Church that will live in the heart of the world, saying to Jews and Gentiles that God alone triumphs and wills what He wills, and that neither the lust of men nor the armies of idols stop His will....

But this will come later, and when it comes you will know how to act. The Spirit of God will guide you. Fear not. For now assemble in Jerusalem the first assembly of the faithful. Then other assemblies, as the number of the faithful grows, will be formed. Verily I say unto you, that the citizens of my Kingdom shall increase rapidly as seeds cast into the good soil. My people will spread throughout the earth. The Lord says to the Lord: "Because you have done this and have not shirked your surrender for me, I will bless you and multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sands that are on the seashore of the sea. 
Your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies and in it all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 22:15-18). Blessing is my Name, my Sign and my Law, where you are recognized as sovereign.

The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, is about to come, and you will be filled with Him. See that you are pure, like all that should approach the Lord. I too was the Lord like Him. But I had clothed my Divinity with a veil that I might be among you, and not only to indoctrinate and redeem you with the organs and blood of this veil, but also that the Holy of Holies might be among men, removing the barrier, for all men, even for the impure, of not being able to gaze upon Him whom the seraphim fear to look upon. But the Holy Spirit will come without a veil of flesh and will rest upon you and descend upon you with his seven gifts and will counsel you. Now the counsel of God is so sublime a thing, that it is necessary to prepare for it with the heroic will of a perfection, which will make you like your Father and your Jesus, and your Jesus in his relation to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, perfect charity and purity in order to be able to understand Love and receive Him on the throne of the heart.

Plunge into the vortex of contemplation. Strive to forget that you are men and to transform yourselves into seraphim.
Throw yourselves into the furnace, into the flames of contemplation. The contemplation of God is like a spark that jumps from the collision of the stone against the link and produces fire and light. It is purification, the fire that consumes the opaque and always impure matter and transforms it into a luminous and pure flame.

You will not have the Kingdom of God in you if you do not have love. For the Kingdom of God is Love, and it appears with Love, and through Love it is established in your hearts amidst the radiance of an immense light that penetrates and fecundates, dissolves ignorance, communicates wisdom, devours man and creates the god, the son of God, my brother, the king of the throne that God has prepared for those who give themselves to God in order to have God, God, God, God, God alone. Be, therefore, pure and holy by the ardent prayer that sanctifies man because it immerses him in the fire of God, which is charity.

You must be saints. Not in the relative sense that this word has had until now, but in the absolute sense that I have given it by proposing to you the holiness of the Lord as an example and limit, that is, perfect holiness. We call holy the Temple, holy the place where the altar is, holy of holies the veiled place where the ark and the mercy seat are.

But truly, I say to you, those who possess Grace and live in holiness for love of the Lord are holier than the Holy of Holies, because God does not merely place himself upon them - as upon the mercy seat of the Temple, to give his commands - but dwells in them, to give them his loves.

Do you remember my words at the Last Supper? I promised you the Holy Spirit. Well, He is coming, to baptize you no longer with water, as John did with you, preparing you for me, but with fire, to prepare you to serve the Lord as He wants you to serve Him. Look, He will be here not many days from now. After His coming your capacities will increase beyond measure, and you will be able to understand the words of your King and to do the works He has said to do, to extend His Kingdom on Earth.

-So you are going to rebuild, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of Israel? - they ask, interrupting him.

-There will no longer be the Kingdom of Israel, but my Kingdom, which will be fulfilled when the Father has said: "It is not for you to know the times. It is not for you to know the times or the moments that the Father has reserved in his power

But you, in the meantime, will receive the power of the Holy Spirit who will come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, founding assemblies in the places where people are gathered in my Name; baptizing people in the Holy Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as I have said to you, so that they may have Grace and live in the Lord; preaching the Gospel to all creatures; teaching what I have taught you; doing what I have said to you; doing what I have said to you. of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit, as I have said to you, that they may have Grace and live in the Lord; preaching the Gospel to all creatures; teaching what I have taught you; doing what I have commanded you to do. And I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

One other thing I desire. Let James, my brother, preside over the assembly at Jerusalem. Peter, as head of the whole Church, will often have to undertake apostolic journeys, because all the neophytes will desire to know the Pontiff, supreme head of the Church. But my brother will have a great influence on the faithful of the nascent Church. Men are always men

always men and they see things as men. To them it will seem that James is a continuation of me, by the simple fact of being my brother. Truly I say that he is greater and more Christ-like by wisdom than by kinship. But, so it is; men, who did not seek me while I was in their midst, will now seek me in him who is my kinsman. You, Simon Peter... you are destined for other honors....

-That I do not deserve, Lord. I told you so when you appeared to me, and I tell you so, in the presence of all, once more. You are good, divinely good, as well as wise, and your judgment of me was right. I disowned you in this city. You have fully judged that I am not fit to be its spiritual leader. You want to spare me many just vituperations....

-We were all equal, except two, Simon. I also ran away. It is not for this, but for the reasons you have expressed, that the Lord has destined me to this post; but you are my Chief, Simon of Jonas, and as such I recognize you. In the presence of the Lord and all the companions, I profess obedience to you. I will give you what I can to help you in your ministry, but, I beg you, give me your orders, for you are the Chief and I am the subject. When the Lord reminded me of a conversation long ago, I bowed my head, saying: "Let it be done as you wish. I will say the same thing to you from the moment when, the Lord having left us, you will be his Representative on Earth. And we will love one another, helping one another in the priestly ministry," says James, bending down from his place to pay homage to Peter.

-Yes, love one another, helping one another, for this is the new commandment and the sign that you truly belong to Christ.

Do not be troubled for any reason.
 God is with you. You can do what I want of you. I would not impose on you things that you could not do, for I do not want your destruction but your glory. Behold, I go to prepare your place at my throne. Be united to me and to the Father in love. Forgive the world that hates you. Call as sons and brothers those who come to you, or those who are already with you for love of me.

Have the peace of knowing that I am always ready to help you carry your cross. I will be with you in the labors of your ministry and in the hour of persecutions; and you will not perish, you will not succumb, although it may seem so to those who see things with the eyes of the world. You will feel weight, affliction, weariness, you will be tortured, but my joy will be in you, because I will help you in everything. Truly I tell you, when you have Love as your Friend, you will understand that all things suffered and lived for love of me become light, even the hard tortures of the world. Because for the one who clothes all his actions - voluntary or imposed - with love, the yoke of life and of the world are transformed into a yoke received from God, received from me. And I repeat to you that my burden is always proportionate to your strength and that my yoke is light, because I help you to carry it.

You know that the world does not know how to love. But you, from now on, love the world with supernatural love, to teach it to love. And if they say to you, when they see you being persecuted: "Is this how God loves you, by making you suffer, by giving you gifts, by making you suffer, by making you suffer, by making you suffer, by making you suffer, by making you suffer, by making you suffer, by making you suffer?  By giving you pain? Then it is not worth being of God," he replied: "Pain does not come from God. But God permits it. We know the reason for it and we glory to have the part that Jesus the Savior, the Son of God, had". Answer: "We rejoice if we are nailed to the cross, we rejoice to continue the Passion of our Jesus". Respond with the words of Wisdom (Wisdom 2, 23-24): "Death and sorrow entered the world through the envy of the devil. But God is not the author of death and pain, nor does he rejoice in the pain of the living. All his things are life and all are salutary". Say to them: "At present we seem persecuted and defeated, but on the day of God, when the tables are turned, we, the righteous, persecuted on earth, will be glorious before those who vexed and despised us. But say to them also: "Come to us! Come to Life and Peace. Our Lord does not want your perdition, but your salvation. For this reason he gave his beloved Son for the salvation of you all.

And rejoice to share in my sufferings so that you may be with me in glory. In Abraham (Genesis 15:1) the Lord promises all his faithful servants that "I will be your exceeding great reward". You know how the Kingdom of Heaven is conquered: by strength; and it is reached through many tribulations. But he who perseveres as I have persevered will be where I am.

I have already told you which is the way and the door that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, and I have been the first to walk that way and to return to the Father through that door. If there were others, I would have shown them to you, because I feel compassion for your weakness as men. But there are no others... In pointing them out to you as the only way and the only door, I also tell you, I repeat, what is the medicine that gives strength to walk it and enter. It is love. Always love. Everything becomes possible when love is in us. And Love, who loves you, will give you all love, if you ask in my Name so much love as to make you athletes in holiness.

Now let us kiss each other goodbye, my dearest friends.

He stands up to embrace them. They all do the same. But, while Jesus has a peaceful smile of a truly divine beauty, they cry, full of confusion, and John, throwing himself on the chest of Jesus, in the midst of strong spasms because of the sobs that break his chest as painful as they are, asks, for all, sensing the desire of all:

-Give us at least your Bread! May it strengthen us at this moment!
-So be it! - Jesus answered him.
Then he takes a loaf of bread, breaks it after having offered and blessed it, and repeats the ritual words. And he does the same

with the wine, repeating afterwards:
-Do this in remembrance of me - adding:
-From me who have left you this plough of my love to continue to be and to be always with you until you

will be with me in Heaven. He blesses them and says:

-And now let us go.
They go out of the room, out of the house?
Jonah, Mary and Mark are outside. They kneel down and adore Jesus.

-Peace be with you, and may the Lord repay you for all you have given me," Jesus says, blessing them as they pass by.

Mark stands up and says:
-Lord, the olive groves along the road to Bethany are full of disciples waiting for you.
-Go and tell them to go to the Galilean camp.
Mark ran with all the speed of his young legs.
-Then they have all come," the apostles say among themselves.
Over there, seated between Margziam and Mary Cleophas, is the Mother of the Lord. And, seeing him approaching, she rises up and adores him

with all the impulse of her motherly and faithful heart.
-Come, Mother, and you too, Mary! - Jesus invites them as He sees them standing still, paralyzed by the majesty which, resplendent,

emanates as on the morning of the Resurrection. Jesus does not want to overwhelm them with this majesty of his, so, affably, he asks Mary of Alphaeus:

-Are you alone?

-The others... the others are up ahead... with the shepherds and... with Lazarus and all his family... But they have left us here, because... Oh, Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!... How can I bear not to see you, blessed Jesus, my God, I who loved you even before you were born and who wept so much for you when I did not know where you were after the slaughter... I who had my sunshine, and all, all my good in your smile since you came back... Oh, how much good! How much good you have given me!... Now I am really going to be truly poor, a widow, now I am really going to be alone!... With You, we had everything!... That afternoon, I thought I knew all the pain.... But the pain itself, all that pain of that day, had made me obfuscate and... yes, it was less strong than now... And then... there was the fact that you were going to be resurrected. I didn't seem to believe it, but now I realize that I did, because I didn't feel what I feel now.... - she cries, and she is so choked by the tears that she gasps.

-Good Mary, you truly grieve like a child who believes that his mother no longer loves him and has abandoned him because she has gone to the city (to buy him gifts that will make him happy, and will soon return to him to cover him with caresses and gifts). Is this not what I am doing with you? Am I not going to prepare joy for you? Am I not going to return and tell you: "Come, my beloved relative and disciple, mother of my beloved disciples"? Do I not leave you my love? I give you my love, Mary!  You know I love you! Do not cry like that. Exult, rather, because you will no longer see me vilified and weary, nor persecuted, nor rich only in the love of a few. And with my love I leave you my Mother. Juan will be her son. You be to her a good sister, as always. Do you see? My Mother does not cry. She knows that, although the longing for me will be the lime that will consume her heart, the wait will in any case be brief compared to the great joy of an eternity of union, and she also knows that this separation of ours will not be so absolute that it will make her exclaim: "I no longer have a Son". That was the cry of pain on the day of sorrow. Now in her heart she sings the hope: "I know that my Son ascends to the Father, but he will not leave me without his spiritual loves". Believe it so, you too, and everyone.... There are the others. There are my shepherds.

The faces of Lazarus and his sisters, in the midst of all the domestics of Bethany, and the face of Joanna, like a rose under a veil of rain, and those of Elisa and Nique, already marked by age (and now the wrinkles are deepening because of pain): pain at any rate, for the human creature, though the soul rejoices in the triumph of the Lord), and the face of Anastacia, and the lily faces of the first virgins, and the ascetic face of Isaac, and the inspired face of Matthias, and the virile face of Manahen, and the austere ones of Joseph and Nicodemus. .. Faces, faces, faces…

Jesus calls the shepherds, Lazarus, Joseph, Nicodemus, Manahen, Maximin and the others of the seventy-two disciples. He tells them to come near, but he wants to be especially close to the shepherds. He says to them:

-Come here. You who stood by the Lord when he came from heaven, and who bowed down at his annihilation, stand now near the Lord when he returns to heaven, exulting in your spirit at his glorification. You have deserved this position because you have known how to believe against all unfavorable circumstances and have known how to suffer for your faith. I thank you for your faithful love.

I thank you all. To you, my friend Lazarus. To you, Joseph, and to you. Nicodemus, compassionate to the Christ when to be so could mean great danger. To you, Manahen, who by going my way have known how to despise the filthy favors of a filthy man. To you, Stephen, flowery crown of righteousness, who have left the imperfect for the perfect and will be crowned with a crown that you do not yet know but that will be announced to you by the angels. To you, John, for a short time my brother in the purest breast, and come to the Light more than to the sight. To you, Nicolai, who, being a proselyte, have known how to console me for the pain of the children of this nation. And to you, good disciples, and stronger than Judith, without ceasing to be sweet.

And to you, Margziam, my child, who shall henceforth take the name of Martial, for the memory of the Roman child killed on the road and placed before the Lazarus's stone with the sign of defiance: "And now tell the Galilean to resurrect thee, if he is the Christ and if he has risen," last of the innocents who in Palestine lost their lives for serving me even unconsciously, and first of the innocents of all nations, of the innocents who, for having approached Christ, will be hated and will receive premature death, like flower buds plucked from their stems before they open. May this name, Martial, point you to your future destiny: be an apostle in barbarian lands and conquer them for your Lord, as my love conquered the Roman child for Heaven.

To all, to all I bless you in this farewell, invoking the Father, invoking for you the reward of those who have consoled the painful path of the Son of Man.

Blessed be Humanity in that select portion of yours, which is in the Jews and in the Gentiles, and which has manifested itself in the love it has had for me.

Blessed is the Earth with its herbs and its flowers; blessed are its fruits, which have often provided me with delight and nourishment. Blessed is the Earth with its waters and with its warmth, for the birds and the animals, which many times surpassed man in comforting the Son of man. Blessed are you, Sun, blessed are you, sea, blessed are you, mountains, hills, plains;

Blessed are you, stars who have accompanied me in night prayer and in pain. And you, Moon, who have been light for my steps during my pilgrimage as Evangelizer.

Blessed are you all, all of you, creatures, works of my Father, my companions in this mortal time, friends of Him who had left Heaven to remove from the troubled Humanity the thorns of the Guilt that separates it from God. (With his last blessing - the Blessed Mother will say - Jesus gave back goodness and holiness to all the things of Creation).

Blessed are you also, innocent instruments of my torture: thorns, metals, wood, braided ropes, because you have helped me to fulfill the Will of my Father!

What a resonant voice Jesus has! It spreads through the temperate and serene air like the voice of beaten bronze; it spreads in waves over the sea of faces that look at it from all directions.

I say that there are hundreds of people surrounding Jesus as he climbs with those he loves most to the top of the Mount of Olives. But Jesus, arriving at the beginning of the Galilean camp, depopulated of tents in this period between the two feasts, orders the disciples:

-Stop the people where they are. Then follow me.

He continues to go up to the highest place on the mountain, the place closest to Bethany, which he overlooks - not Jerusalem - from above. Close to him, his Mother, the apostles, Lazarus, the shepherds and Margziam. Beyond, in a semicircle, keeping the crowd of the faithful at a distance, the other disciples.

Jesus is standing on a wide, slightly prominent, rising stone in the green grass of a clearing. The sun shines on Him, making His robe white as if it were snow, His hair shining as if it were gold. His eyes sparkle with divine light.

He opens his arms in a gesture of embrace: he seems to want to embrace against his chest all the multitudes of the Earth, which his spirit sees represented in that crowd.

His unforgettable, inimitable voice gives the last order:

-Go! Go in my name, to evangelize the people to the ends of the earth. God be with you. May his love comfort you, his light guide you, his peace abide in you unto eternal life.

It is transfigured in beauty. Beautiful! So much more beautiful than on Tabor. All fall on their knees in adoration. He, already rising from the stone on which he was leaning, seeks once more the face of his Mother, and his smile reaches a power that no one will ever be able to represent.... It is his last farewell to his Mother.

Climb up, climb up... The Sun, even freer to kiss him -now that there are no fronds, not even subtle ones, to intercept the path of his rays-, falls with its radiance on the God-Man who ascends with his most holy Body to Heaven, and evidences his glorious Wounds, which shine like living rubies. 

 It is truly the Light that manifests itself in what is, in this last instant as in the night of birth. Creation sparkles with the light of the ascending Christ. A light that surpasses that of the Sun. A superhuman and most blessed light. A light that descends from Heaven to meet the Light that ascends.... And Jesus Christ, the Word of God, disappears for the sight of men in this ocean of splendors...

On earth, only two noises in the deep silence of the ecstatic crowd: the cry of Mary when He disappears: "Jesus", and the cry of Isaac. The others are dumbfounded by religious stupor, and remain there, as if waiting for something, until two very candid angelic lights, in mortal form, appear and say the words recorded in the first chapter of the Apostolic Acts:

-Men of Galilee, why are you looking up to Heaven? This Jesus, who has now been caught up to you and has been raised to Heaven, his eternal abode, will come from Heaven, in due time, just as he has now departed.