Do you ever wonder how the disciples felt right after our Lord ascended? We’re told that they stood there in awe and angels had to tell them to go home.
But how did they feel? They hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit, so they didn’t have all the insights and gifts that would lead them out into the world.
I always thought they must have felt a little sad and alone.
We gain some insight if we look at the first reading for the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Acts 1:13-14) — which we won’t hear in our diocese because we, like most dioceses in our county, have moved the celebration of the Ascension from Thursday to this Sunday. Instead, on Sunday, we will hear the Ascension’s readings.
In the first reading we would have heard that, after the Ascension, the disciples went back to Jerusalem and “the upper room where they were staying.” With them went “some women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Everyone “devoted themselves to prayer.” For days.
Next Sunday, Pentecost, we will find these same people, still praying in the upper room.
We have entered, by long tradition, a week of prayer.
Think about the ways we can gather in prayer — besides at Sunday Mass. For example, there is daily Mass, recitation of the rosary, perpetual adoration chapels, where someone always prays before the Blessed Sacrament.
Besides these ways to pray, there are many places we could use as our own upper room this coming week. Our churches are often open at times during the week for private prayer. Those churches only open on weekends always offer extra time to pray before or after weekend Mass.
Churches often have at least one side chapel for prayer. There might also be a chapel near the tabernacle. There may even be a prayer garden outside — where flowers might even be blooming.
If you have time, you might visit another church for a prayer service, Mass or private prayer. You could even drive to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion or St. Norbert Abbey and its national shrine of St. Joseph.
Whatever you choose, use this week to imitate the disciples after the Ascension. Few of us can imagine the experience of seeing Jesus rise into heaven. But most of us can imagine feeling a little lost and alone. Prayer helps.
Kasten is an associate editor of The Compass and the author of “Linking Your Beads: The Rosary’s History, Mysteries and Prayers.”