Fr. Z’s annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday

We know with holy and Catholic Faith that what was not assumed, was not redeemed (St. Gregory of Nazianzus – +389/90).

Our humanity, body and soul, was taken by the Son into an unbreakable bond with His divinity.

When Christ rose from the tomb, our humanity rose in Him. When He ascended to heaven, so also did we ascend. In Christ, our humanity now sits at the Father’s right hand. His presence there is our great promise and hope here.

It is already fulfilled, but not yet in its fullness. That hope informs our trials in this life.

Be clear. Not only Christ’s humanity but our humanity ascended into heaven. Preaching on 1 June 444 St. Leo I, “the Great” (+461) taught (my emphasis), “Truly it was a great and indescribable source of rejoicing when, in the sight of the heavenly multitudes, the nature of our human race ascended over the dignity of all heavenly creatures, to pass the angelic orders and to be raised beyond the heights of archangels. In its ascension it did not stop at any other height until this same nature was received at the seat of the eternal Father, to be associated on the throne of the glory of that One to whose nature it was joined in the Son.”

Leo says in another sermon of 17 May 445, “This Faith, reinforced by the Ascension of the Lord and strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, has not been terrified by chains, by prison, by exile, by hunger, by fire, by the mangling of wild beasts, nor by sharp suffering from the cruelty of persecutors. Throughout the world, not only men but also women, not just immature boys but also tender virgins, have struggled on behalf of this Faith even to the shedding of their blood. This Faith has cast out demons, driven away sicknesses, and raised the dead.”

The liturgical celebration of Ascension by the Latin Church has become a little confused in recent years.

In the post-Conciliar calendar used with the Novus Ordo editions of the Missale Romanum for this Sunday we ought to be observing the 7th Sunday of Easter.

Ascension Thursday is on Thursday.

However, by the same logical that dislocated Epiphany from its proper place twelve days after Christmas (“Twelfth Night”), some years ago the Holy See allowed conferences of bishops to transfer the celebration of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday.

I call this liturgical quirk “Ascension Thursday Sunday”.

Those who are participating at Holy Mass with the 1962MR avoid this folderol.

I know the argument. The bishops hope to expose more people to the mystery of the Ascension of the Lord. Because it is too hard to go to Mass also on Thursday, they moved the feast to Sunday. Well… in most places they moved it to Sunday. What is even more confusing is that it isn’t transferred in some dioceses.

In the 1983 Code of Canon Law c. 1246, Ascension Thursday is indicated as one of the few Holy Days of Obligation. Again, I know the “laudable” reason for moving the feast.

However, perhaps it is the influence of reading so much St. Augustine over the years, but my present view of human nature suggests to me that when Holy Mother Church’s pastors lower expectations regarding the liturgy, people get the hint: it just isn’t that important. Maybe none of it is important.

I think the option to dislocate such an important and ancient feast is an arrogant novelty.

The celebration of Ascension on a particular Thursday is rooted in Scripture and reflects the ancient practice of the Church in East and West alike. We read in Holy Scripture that nine days, not six, intervened between the Lord’s physical ascent to the Father’s right hand and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Ascension Thursday was fixed at the 40th day after Easter from about the end of the 4th century. In the Latin West, St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) called it Quadragesima (“fortieth”) Ascensionis. In the Greek East, St. Gregory of Nyssa spoke of it in 388. That’s only a 16 century tradition. Eastern Christians haven’t transferred Ascension.

What must the Easterners think of us Latins?

But let’s be more positive.

With the third, 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum we have once again a Mass for the Vigil of Ascension. This wasn’t in the 1970 or 1975 editions. Moreover, there are now proper Masses for the days (nine? six?) after Ascension until Pentecost, most having alternative collects depending on whether or not in that region Ascension is transferred to Sunday.

In the new printing of the 3rd edition there will also be an option for a longer celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost, in keeping with the ancient use similar to the Vigil of Easter, with various readings. There is a parallel between Easter and Pentecost for the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, which in the Latin Church were of old conferred in the same rite.

Drop to your knees and thank God for Pope Benedict and the provisions by which he liberated the use also of the pre-Conciliar liturgy through Summorum Pontificum.

Whether you prefer the older form of Mass or the newer, Pope Benedict is working to heal the rupture that took place after the Council in our worship of Almighty God.

The older use will exert a “gravitational pull” on the celebration of the newer forms and the whole Church will benefit.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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43 Responses to Fr. Z’s annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday

  1. Thankfully, here in Norway Ascension Thursday is still celebrated on Ascension Thursday. On the other hand, it is one of only two Holy Days of Obligation apart from the Sundays still in force as such in Norway, the other being Christmas Day. At least it’s something that an important day like Ascension Thursday was kept. It was perhaps easier to stick to the proper day here due to the fact that it is also a public holiday.

  2. Magister Germanicus says:

    Deo gratias that where I live, Ascension Thursday is actually observed on a Thursday!

    There seems to me to be a logical solution/compromise for the Thursday/Sunday “problem”, and that solution was already found withing the usus antiquior. The “solution” to the “problem” is called an external solemnity — The feast is kept on its proper day via the Mass and Office proper to that day, but one Mass (possibly more?) of that feast was also allowed to be celebrated on the following Sunday for the good of the faithful. The Office, however, would still be of the Sunday.

    Many places where the E.F. is offered do this for several major feasts as permitted (in the rubrics? ordo?). I remember this being done, for example, for the feasts of SS. Peter & Paul, Corpus Christi (which also falls properly on a Thursday), The Sacred Heart, and occasionally for the Feast of the Precious Blood (July 1st).

  3. ehale says:

    Amen! I recently found this quote:

    “Sociologists…have observed that churches tend to lose vigor when they relax demands on adherents, especially those tenets and practices that cut against the grain of wider society. In economic terms, lowering the “costs” of membership in this way ends up diminishing its benefits, among other ways by loosening the bonds of community.”

    I am heartened by the recent calls (in the UK) for Meatless Fridays to be restored. The laxity of our standards here in the US is so sad. Is it too much to hope that the USCCB will someday restore some of our pre-V2 observances here as well?

  4. Legisperitus says:

    There’s a kind of Eucharistic logic connecting Holy Thursday, Ascension Thursday, and Corpus Christi Thursday that gets lost when you move one or two of them to Sunday. (“Does this scandalize you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?”– Bread of Life discourse)

    If I’m not mistaken, the Feast of the Precious Blood was originally celebrated on the first Sunday in July until it was later fixed permanently on July 1.

  5. gertrudel says:

    Please God by next year our Bishop’s will have restored some Feasts (including the Ascension) to their proper days. It has been quite a turn-around for them here in the UK. I hesitate to say that they have remembered they are Roman Catholic, but….

  6. Why not keep the Feast as the Liturgical Fathers intended, and make the following Sunday a commemoration of the Feast? I don’t think much liturgical sense was used during the so called revisions after Vat. II. Lord have mercy!

  7. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Ascension seems to be really ignored this year. @ Mass today, on this feast of Justin Martyr (also the vigil), Father talked abt only upcoming Pentecost, a sermon directed to the 2 classes of parochial schoolchildren present. I think he totally missed a teachable moment abt tomorrows feast. But then, I’ve noted Ascension is actually missing from @ least 1 parish calendar!

  8. MissOH says:

    Not an issue liturgically since I started attending the over TLM two years ago. Deo gratias, there are a good number of TLM’s for Ascension being celebrated in my area tomorrow. I will have to do some schedule juggling but it is worth it, because God is worth it. It is worth it because as I explain the solemnity to my daughter and to others, it will make sense.

    I do understand the pastoral thinking but “aim high” could be more than just be a secular slogan. I know of those who were attracted to a certain non-christian religious because it offered a greater challenge in their behavior, worship, etc.

  9. KAS says:

    BRAVO! Those religious orders which are growing are not those that make it easy but those who insist on doing things right even when it is difficult or inconvenient. Those parishes which desire to grow should take this into consideration and challenge people to rise to fulfill their obligations as Catholics to a higher standard rather than make it so easy nobody cares anymore.

    I would rather need confession because I forgot and missed a Holy Day than have it cease to be important.

  10. Centristian says:

    “However, perhaps it is the influence of reading so much St. Augustine over the years, but my present view of human nature suggests to me that when Holy Mother Church’s pastors lower expectations regarding the liturgy, people get the hint: it just isn’t that important. Maybe none of it is important.”

    What a great (and chilling) observation. All this time I have been a supporter of the idea of transferring Holy Days of Obligation to Sundays for purely practical reasons, but your words, Father, have given me something to think about.

  11. Kypapist says:

    So when they say, “We are a Resurrection people, you should stand (during the Canon),” can we say “We are an Ascension people, you should levitate”?

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. americangirl says:

    It was shocking to me when I moved from the north to the south and found Ascension Thursday was not celebrated in my diocese on Thursday but Sunday. Holy Days of Obligation were and are important because it sets aside an event in the Church of great significance. It gives the Church the opportunity to focus like a laser on a profound mystery with the emphasis solely on that mystery. As a young person Holy Days of Obligation were opportunities for reflection and witness to the extraordinary occurrence in the life of Christ.( exemplifying the mystical and power of God.) Unfortunately to many Catholics Ascension Thursday being celebrated on Sunday has relegated the Feast to the ordinary. A reason exists in the life of the Church as well as in the secular life to set days apart for what is important, weddings anniversaries, birthdays. How much more should the events in the Life of Christ be magnified and celebrated! The Bishops need to understand it is not always better to allow laxity in the practice of our faith. On the contrary our faith needs to be disciplined and challenged by sacrifice. Sometimes one has to wonder what are they ( Bishops) thinking ?

  13. Centristian says:

    “Sometimes one has to wonder what are they ( Bishops) thinking ?”

    They are thinking of you. I’m sure our bishops have every good intention in trying to make it easier for you and me to attend Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation, however Father Z makes a really good point, one worth a bishop’s pondering.

  14. BLB Oregon says:

    This is a sticky problem. As nearly as I can tell, the feast dates back to around the 4th century. As we are all aware, the Church hasn’t always agreed within herself even how to fix the date for Easter, let alone Ascension. It can’t be argued that there is a dogmatic reason to nail the feast to a particular day on the calendar. Still, there is a strong liturgical reason to mark the feast at 40 days after Easter and to preserve the traditional “novena’s length” of time between Ascension and Pentecost.

    IMHO, the crystalization point of the problem is this: “”What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” How does the Church deal with the pastoral problem of far more than 1% of Catholics wandering off from this Holy Day of Obligation?

    Although I hesitate to back-seat drive when it comes to episcopal decisions, and I think the bishops have made the move for grave reasons, I suspect that Fr. Z and the bishops thinking along his lines are right. I think the bishops do best when they leave the 99 and go out to bring the lost back, rather than dragging the 99 along on the search, with the chance that you stand to lose as many in the wilderness as you can hope to bring back. By the “trip into the wilderness”, I don’t mean what day of the week the feast falls on. I mean the “lost” aspect of not wanting those pivotal observances on the liturgical calendar to ever stray beyond Sundays and US federal holidays. It does something to you when you start thinking that “giving up my schedule” is an undue hardship.

    Conversely, I think there is a positive spiritual effect when any day of the week can be made into a Solemnity, no matter what the economy or the boss says. It reinforces the idea that every day of the week belongs to God, that we serve God first and everything else in the context of that primary service, and that this is not a hardship, but a grace. I remember when my grandfather shut down his logging business in observance of the Assumption, and when the local farmers did no unnecssary field labor on that feast day, even though it was in the middle of the agricultural high season. That honoring of priorities was a very valuable thing.

  15. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Even though we observe the traditional ordo and will celebrate Ascension Thursday according to the 1962 missal, we were told that in our diocese it is not a Holy Day of Obligation and therefore are not committing a sin if we do not attend Mass. This was just by way of information. You can be sure that the 7pm Mass (the added mass for all Holy Days in the parish) will be well attended; and Sunday will be the Sunday after Ascension.

  16. trad catholic mom says:

    Father Z: “Those who are participating at Holy Mass with the 1962MR avoid this folderol.”

    Our only diocesan EF masses are Sunday only. Which means we have no diocesan EF available for holy days of obligation that fall on other days. At my parish we are just having the normal daily NO mass today .

  17. MikeM says:

    Having grown up in Philadelphia, I didn’t know about Ascension Thursday Sunday until I got to college. My middle and high school even gave us off for the holy day of obligation. I was horrified when, during my freshman year of college, I asked about Ascension Thursday Mass and was told that it was on Sunday!!

  18. Brad says:

    I should put on a leisure suit and proclaim, “Ascension us home!”

  19. James Joseph says:

    Moving days like this reminds me Deism; that is, the idea of not letting God disturb your everyday life.

  20. tsunamimommy says:

    I have mourned the loss of Acension (Thursday) for many years. 40 days afer Easter is not a Sunday. And as far as whatever meager reason they give, I still don’t see any more people at Mass on any given Sunday that is designated as a Holy Day of Whatever. Let me see, we could make it really easy and only require that everyone go to Mass once a month–remembering to keep Holy the the other three Sabbaths of the month, couldn’t we?????
    Gee, I bet Jesus wished that it could have been easier for him–oh, yeah, that’s what the Agony in the Garden was all about. And we can’t spend one hour, much one extra hour every now and then…………I am so ashamed of some of the people who tell the world they are Catholic. I’m sure t was inconvient for my Grandparents and then my parents and Aunts and Uncles, and then myself to get everyone ready for Mass on Thursday–God forbid, and only one Thursday at that. No, I take that back, some of the other HOLY DAYS of OBLIGATION rotated, you had to check the calendar to see when they were. But I remember the church being as full–emphasis on FULL–on Holy Days as it was on Sundays. Today, Sunday Masses aren’t even full.
    Of course, we were told it was a Mortal Sin to miss Mass on Sundays or Holy Days. We were also told that if we didn’t obey the laws of God, His Church and of Man, we would surely rot in hell.
    Yes, I miss the days when people came to Mass afraid of Hell and left Loving God.
    My days are almost over and I will be with my Lord and then I can praise Him everyday.

  21. nanetteclaret says:

    I have often thought it quite odd that the U.S. Bishops who insist on doing certain things in certain ways “for the sake of unity” are the same ones who celebrate certain Holy Days of Obligation on the Sunday following, rather than the day itself. Where is the unity with the rest of the Church throughout the world which is celebrating the day on the actual day? It’s just intellectually dishonest. If they’re going to transfer Epiphany and Ascension Day, why not Immaculate Conception? And then there’s abrogating All Saints and Mary, Mother of God if they fall on Saturday or Monday. It’s so inconsistent, no wonder people are confused! Most of the time a person has to find a Church calendar to know whether a day is an obligation or whether it’s been transferred – and make sure the calendar is for your own diocese and not another. How many people have missed it entirely because they thought it was transferred when it wasn’t, or have made plans to attend Mass only to find out that it wasn’t happening? It’s really no wonder people get upset and confused and think the Bishops aren’t really serious about anything.

  22. Fiat Mihi says:

    One of the many great things about living in Nebraska, the Ecclesiastical Province of Omaha, is that the bishops have held firm and tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation for me and my family.

  23. JKnott says:

    The Archdiocese of Hartford maintains Thursday as a Holy Day.
    This reminded me of a lovely custom observed by the Sisters of the Visitation (VHM)
    The Visitation Sister, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. (who received the Devotion to the Sacred Heart) entered the chapel after lunch and recreation on an Ascension Thursday, and opening “The Imitation of Christ”, she received a great grace from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
    In honor and remembrance of this event, the VHM Sisters take a copy of “The Imitation” on their own into the chapel in the afternoon on Ascension Thursday, open it to a passage and pray.
    I have made that a custom for myself as well and always look forward to it.

  24. Hennepin says:

    I live in Diocese of Rochester NY. Ascension Thursday is Thursday. Last Sunday we were reminded that it was a Holy day of obligation. I did not realize that Ascension Thursday could be moved to Sunday.

  25. PaterAugustinus says:

    “What must the Easterner think of us Latins?”

    In all honesty, for many of us, our hearts break watching the traditional wing of Catholicism as it tries to retain some semblance of beauty and order. We know that not every Roman Catholic is a leotard-wearing, ribbon-waving, eucharist-abusing, epistle-reading abnormal ministrix. We applaud and encourage the traditionally minded, even as we encourage a yet more radical rediscovery of tradition. Often I meet “traditional” Catholics, for whom “tradition” equals 1962! In the Orthodox Church, we wish that Rome would free itself, to some extent, from its counter-reformation trappings, and restore a liturgical and dogmatic and practical patrimony that is more authentically Catholic, and less defined by compromise with various strands of humanism.

    That said, the almost total breakdown of piety – corporate or private – is a far greater concern to us, whenever any question of reunion arises. Even *if* things like Papal Infallability or the deep-seated prejudice of the Greek laity can ever be overcome, the question then remains: can we reunite with Catholicism, when we’re not sure most bishops believe the faith, or that the Sacraments will be administered with respect, or that the laity will actually believe in things like the Resurrection? No offense, but would you want to saddle your Church to that kind of baggage?

    Of course, we’re not perfect, either. We each have points that can counter-act the imbalances of the other.

    To return to the topic at hand: I don’t understand why the Feast had to be transferred in the first place – isn’t the service for the Sunday in the Octave of Ascension already packed with Ascension themes? It is in the older books, anyway. Did this change? Aren’t people going to hear texts and sermons on this theme, one way or another? I hate to say this, but perhaps the idea of an “Holy Day of Obligation” should be dropped entirely, if it’s going to produce this kind of thing. In the Orthodox Church, I’ve always been taught that “God loves a cheerful giver.” You go to Mass because you love the Lord and it is an integral and necessary part of your Christian life. St. Theophan warns against too much compulsion in spiritual life (which is dinstinct from self-discipline and pastoral goading). There is some value in being obedient to a mandate to attend… but, isn’t this small value overwhelmed by the negative side-effects? And, isn’t this all painfully nonsensical? I mean, the mandate propels unwanted and impious changes to tradition… in order o make the mandate more easily observable? What?

    This is another of those places, where we Orthodox would love to see a bit less of the counter-reformation Catholicism. We get quizzical looks, when we contemplate the idea of an “Holy Day of Obligation.” Look, it’s simple: you know you should be in Church. On Feast Days, you should be especially glad to be in Church. But that’s because it is a blessing to go and celebrate the Feasts and to make the small sacrifices that make this possible. If labelling a day one of “Obligation” immediately makes an invitation to a blessing over into a threat at gunpoint, and then fuels a rush to rearrange the calendar so as to eliminate all the things that would make the Solemnity especially sacred and worthwhile, then what is the point of this label, “Obligatory?” Other, that is, than the damage it does to the beauty of piety and tradition?

    And don’t say “it communicates the importance of the Feast,” or “it lets people know that they HAVE to be there.” The Orthodox know this, and we don’t have days of Obligation. And the people who don’t want to celebrate the Lord’s Ascension, probably aren’t terribly impressed by the command to attend, anyway.

  26. ehale says:
    I am heartened by the recent calls (in the UK) for Meatless Fridays to be restored. The laxity of our standards here in the US is so sad. Is it too much to hope that the USCCB will someday restore some of our pre-V2 observances here as well?

    Is it too much to hope that the USCCB will someday be dissolved?

  27. JohnRoss says:

    As an Easterner in union with the Holy See, I view this Ascension Thursday Sunday thing with dismay and utter confusion. If any of you want to satisfy your Ascension obligation in one of our parishes you are welcome.

    All Eastern Catholic eparchies in the US still keep Ascension on Thursday.

    No doubt the Orthodox look on this practice as “another heretical Latin innovation.” They still haven’t gotten over the switch to unleavened Eucharists in the Middle Ages.

  28. JohnRoss says:

    As an Easterner in union with the Holy See, I view this Ascension Thursday Sunday thing with dismay and utter confusion. If any of you want to satisfy your Ascension obligation in one of our parishes you are welcome.

    All Eastern Catholic eparchies in the US still keep Ascension on Thursday.

    No doubt the Orthodox look on this practice as “another heretical Latin innovation.” They still haven’t gotten over the switch to unleavened Eucharists in the Middle Ages.

  29. AAJD says:

    “What must the Easterners think of us Latins?” Well….since you asked, here’s one reply: http://easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2011/06/hail-day-that-sees-him-rise.html

  30. Cincinnati Priest says:

    In addition to the theological reasons so elegantly advanced by Fr. Z and post-ers above NOT to move Ascension Thursday, there is also a pragmatic reason. It is just plain confusing to have to follow the ordos, lectionaries and calendars with their flow chart style instructions “In dioceses where Ascension is transferred to Sunday, do this … otherwise … do that …”

    It would be so much better if we were all on the same page, and just left well enough alone, not messing unnecessarily with the liturgical tradition.

  31. Dr. Eric says:

    I hope St. Raymond’s Cathedral (seat of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon) in St. Louis is celebrating the Feast tomorrow, because I am planning on attending tomorrow’s noon Liturgy.

    My office hours conflict with the 8:30 am and the 6:30 pm Masses at St. Francis de Sales Oratory.

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear @PaterAugustinus

    In my very personal opinion the idea of a Holy Day of Obligation has the following reason. There simply exists an obligation of keeping holy days, to wit, under the Third Commandment minus ceremonial content. Thus the Church in fixing them, to wit, to the Sundays (possibly by inspiration) and some other days – with a slight possibility of variety (in rather nuances) through the times and regions – does but relieve our conscience as regards the question how the Third Commandment is to be fulfilled. And I’m all for relieving consciences, provided it be possible.

    “it lets people know that they HAVE to be there.” The Orthodox know this, and we don’t have days of Obligation.

    If they have to be there, I for one can understand their question: when exactly, and what amount is little enough to be sinful. God loves a cheerful giver, and I for one am more cheerful when I know that, at least in some respect, I’m not sinning.

    And back in the days, a Holy Day of Obligation would just be of obligation, and thus, without any need of the State interfering, there would be no work. Now that’s what can’t be said about a day not of obligation. (What a glory to the age of machines, when St. Pius X. sadly decreed something alike “according to the emergency of our time the following Holy Days of Obligation are dropped”. They used to be really many.)

    would you want to saddle your Church to that kind of baggage?

    No offense, but if the Lord commanded my to do so, I might not want it but I think I should. I might allow myself a sigh.

  33. benedetta says:

    Happy Feast of the Ascension to those in places where it is still permitted to be celebrated today on Ascension Thursday. Others of us must wait a few more days. Maybe what they were going for when they moved it was to add to Christmas & Easter, Ascension, Sunday…

  34. jrotond2 says:

    “In the new printing of the 3rd edition there will also be an option for a longer celebration of the Vigil of Pentecost, in keeping with the ancient use similar to the Vigil of Easter, with various readings. ”

    I was not aware of this, but restoring the Vigil service of Pentecost in the NO would indeed be a case of a gravitational pull, that is a pull from the pre-1956 TLM on the NO which may yet have a reciprocal pull on the 1962 Missale to restore this lost vigil. Twas one of the tragedies of Pius XII’s liturgical reforms!

  35. William Tighe says:

    “What must the Easterners think of us Latins?”

    Well, as a Ukrainian Catholic I think that this is a cue to me; and I think of it as an absurdity.

    “and I think the bishops have made the move for grave reason”

    The “grave reason” being, it seems, that many of the Catholic Faithful think that they can practice a sort of a la carte Catholicism, and instead of disabusing them of this notion, as undershepherds of the Good Shepherd should do, they decide to cater to it.

    More seriously, though, I agree with the penultimate paragraph of “PaterAugustinus’s” comment.

  36. wolfeken says:

    There are twelve — yes, 12 — traditional Latin Masses in the Washington, DC region today for Ascension Thursday. Several are High Masses. Three in the Archdiocese of Washington and nine in the Diocese of Arlington. Before the motu proprio: one or two.

    Vote with your feet and your checkbooks. And bring family and friends.

  37. NoraLee9 says:

    I worked for the City of New York for 24 years. The City has a whole LIST of Holy Days for various faiths, and employees have the option of taking the day “for Religious Observance.” After the Dancing Altar Girl Massacree of 1994, (when I ran, not walked to the TradMass), I started taking all my Religious Days. In a school of 3,500 students, and a proportionate number of teachers (many of whom, at the time, were Orthodox Jews and took their days) it set a good example. At least every year towards the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Novus Ordos and Lapsi would know whom to ask about whose Conception we were talking about, Jesus’s or Mary’s. I did manage to duck teaching Latin, while I was there.

  38. Robert_H says:

    I just checked my parish’s bulletin online. Thursday is listed as “Easter Weekday.”

    Sunday says “7th Sunday of Easter.”

    Sigh. And we offer a weekly forma extraordinaria Mass. I wonder if we’ll get the Acension Thursday Sunday Mass or the Sunday after the Acension this weekend?

  39. BLB Oregon says:

    William Tighe said: The “grave reason” being, it seems, that many of the Catholic Faithful think that they can practice a sort of a la carte Catholicism, and instead of disabusing them of this notion, as undershepherds of the Good Shepherd should do, they decide to cater to it.

    Yes, the grave situation was that there was widespread disregard of the seriousness of the Solemnity, and the solution was, essentially, to remove it as a near occasion of grave sin. While I do believe the bishops had good intentions in making the change, I have to say that I see your assessment to be totally accurate. The current solution would seem to leave that wrong notion totally untouched, and perhaps even reinforced. One has to hope not, I can’t read hearts, but I think the exteriors of the situation show that you are right.

  40. John Nolan says:

    “Tremunt videntes Angeli versam vicem mortalium: Peccat caro, mundat caro, regnat Deus Dei caro.” The Matins hymn Aeternae Rex Altissime (5th century) used from Ascension to Pentecost underlines the point that Pope St Leo the Great was making. It was also made by Bro. Lawrence Lew OP at an EF High Mass I attended earlier this evening. I wonder how many people will leave the transferred Mass next Sunday with any understanding of the significance of this great feast.

  41. benedictgal says:

    What perhaps concerns me the most is the fact that, while the bishops are trying to be pastoral, it seems to me that such action is, lamentably, causing us to actually become less disciplined. We only have a handful of Holy Days of Obligation outside of Sunday. Would it really cost us too much to give God an extra hour of our weekly time? If I can give my hairdresser more than an hour twice a week and engage in several hours of TV time to watch NCIS, can I not do the same (and more) to God? We go the gym to get our bodies in shape. We urge our kids to get into sports, dance or music and make sacrifices to take them to practice and then watch their games and performances. We don’t mind the inconveniences for secular projects and events. We are willing to make sacrifices for such things and we even teach our children to do so. But, what about God? Is it really too much to go to Mass one extra day? If we are willing to devote extra time to other activities, why are we so stingy with the Lord?

  42. benedictgal says:

    There is also something else to consider:

    In Ancient Israel numbers bore a special significance. The number 40 appears several times in the Old Testament. In Genesis, the Lord sends down torrential rain upon the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. In Exodus, the newly freed Hebrews roam the desert for 40 years.

    In the New Testament, the number 40 also holds a place of prominence. Forty days after the birth of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph take the infant Savior to the Temple to present Him to the Lord. After St. John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the River Jordan, the Lord spends 40 days and 40 nights n the desert. Finally, 40 days after His glorious resurrection, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives, gives the surviving 11 Apostles their great commission and then ascends to heaven.

    Ever since the fourth century, as Fr. Z notes in his rant, the Church, the New Israel, has celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension on a Thursday, exactly 40 days after the date of Easter Sunday. Just as on Ash Wednesday, the Church begins her Lenten observance of 40 days of penitence, so too, 40 days after the great day of Easter, the Church celebrates Christ’s triumphant return to the Father.

  43. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Altho it’s several days later, I thought U might find the spontaneous split decision that occurred in my parish interesting. No particular announcement had been made from bulletin, pulpit, or diocesan newspaper by Thursday, so @ AM Mass on June 2, the reader, being the 1st to open the book, read the 1st reading for Feast of the Ascension, followed by the same’s Responsorial Psalm (for some reason I was the only voice which noticed w/the appropriate response). However, when Father Jojo moved to the podium to read the Gospel, he flipped to the Mass of the weekday. His sermon did not mention the Ascension. A rather schizophrenic day, all tolled.