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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE SIXTH ARTICLE: "He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand
    • THE SUBLIMITY OF THE ASCENSION
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THE SUBLIMITY OF THE ASCENSION

 

It was certainly sublime that Christ ascended into heaven. This is

expounded in three ways. Firstly, He ascended above the physical heaven:

"He . . . ascended above all the heavens."1 Secondly, He ascended above all

the spiritual heavens, i.e., spiritual natures: "Raising [Jesus] up from

the dead and setting Him on His right hand in the heavenly places. Above

all principality and power and virtue and dominion and every name that is

named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. And He

hath subjected all things under His feet."2 Thirdly, He ascended up to the

very throne of the Father: "Lo, one like the Son of man came with the

clouds of heaven. And He came even to the Ancient of days."3 "And the Lord

Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sitteth on

the right hand of God."4 Now, it is not to be taken in the literal sense,

but figuratively, that Christ is at the right hand of God. Inasmuch as

Christ is God, He is said to sit at the right hand of the Father, that is,

in equality with the Father; and as Christ is man, He sits at the right

hand of the Father, that is, in a more preferable place.5 The devil once

feigned to do this: "I will ascend above the height of the clouds. I will

be like the Most High."6 But Christ alone succeeded in this, and so it is

said: "He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the

Father." "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit Thou at My right hand."7

 




1. Eph., iv. 10.

 



2. "Ibid.," i. 20-22

 



3. Dan., vii. 13.

 



4. Mark, xvi. 19.

 



5. "In these words we observe a figure of speech, that is, the changing of

a word from its literal to a figurative meaning, something which is not

infrequent in the Scriptures: for when accommodating its language to human

ideas, it attributes human affections and human members to God, who is pure

spirit and can admit of nothing corporeal. For, just as among men, he who

sits at the right hand is considered to occupy the most honored place: so,

transferring the idea to heavenly things to express the glory which Christ

as Man enjoys above all others, we say that He sits at the right hand of

His Eternal Father. Now, this does not mean actual position and figure of

body, but declares the fixed and permanent possession of royal and supreme

power and glory which Christ received from the Father" ("Roman Catechism,"

Sixth Article, 3).

 



6. Isa., xiv. 13-14.

 



7. Ps. cix. 1.

 






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