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, both body and soul, was assumed 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.

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 coming Sunday we ought - in my opinion – to be observing the 7th Sunday of Easter.  Ascension Thursday should fall, appropriately, on Thursday.   However, by the same logical that dislocated Epiphany (“Twelfth Night”) from its proper place twelve days, appropriately, after Christmas, some years ago the Holy See allowed bishops to transfer the celebration of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday.

I call this liturgical caper “Ascension Thursday Sunday”.

Those who are participating at Holy Mass with the 1962MR avoid all this.  Ascension Thursday is, logically, on Thursday.

Since we should, when examining issues, pay attention to cult, code and creed, and since we have looked at the theological point of the liturgical observance of the Ascension (creed and cult) let’s look also at some law (code).

In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 1246, Ascension Thursday is indicated as one of the few Holy Days of Obligation.

Nota bene: There are some dioceses where Ascension Thursday has not been transferred.

Among them are – I believe – Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia. To be sure, look at your parish bulletin from last Sunday, check your diocese’s newspaper, call your local diocesan chancery, etc. In other words, do some homework if you are not sure.  In those places, you fulfill your obligation by going to Mass either tomorrow, Ascension Thursday, or tonight, Wednesday, the Vigil of Ascension.

I have a separate post about fulfilling one’s obligation for Ascension Thursday when travelling, which may involve being in a place or being from a place where the Thursday obligation remains because Ascension wasn’t, in that place, transferred.  Go HERE.

The bishops who did transfer the feast to Sunday were, I am sure, hoping to expose more people to the mystery of the Ascension of the Lord.  Probably included in that calculation was also the notion that it is tooo haaard for people to go to Mass also on Thursday.  ”Mass twice in a week?  Tooo haaard!”

I am no doubt under the the influence of having read so much St. Augustine.  My present view of humanity suggests that when Holy Mother Church lowers expectations regarding the liturgy, people get the hint and lower their own personal expectations of themselves.  They get the hint that the feast just isn’t that important.  As a matter of fact, maybe none of this Catholic stuff, with all these rules, is that important.  This is what happened with lowering expectations about Friday abstinence (hardly anyone pays attention to it anymore), going to confession regularly and confession all mortal sins, the Eucharistic fast, dressing appropriately for Mass, etc. etc. etc.  If you change how people pray (or tell them they don’t have to) you change the way people believe.  There is a reciprocal relationship between our prayer and our belief.  Lex ordandi – Lex credendi.

I am left with the opinion that the option to dislocate such an important and ancient feast falls into the category of a Really Bad Idea.  As a matter of fact, it isn’t a Really Bad Idea just because it could undermine our Catholic identity, it is also a Really Bad Idea because it smacks of arrogant novelty.

The celebration of Ascension on a particular Thursday is rooted in Scripture.  Celebration on Thursday reflects the ancient practice of the Churches of the 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.  If Pentecost was the 50th day, seven weeks – as the ancients counted the starting day itself is included so you get 50 rather than 49), then Ascension Thursday was fixed at the 40th day after Easter.

The observance of Ascension Thursday was fixed 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.

And how, I ask you, is transferring Ascension Thursday to Sunday in conformity with the “spirit of Vatican II” as actually printed in the documents of Vatican II? Didn’t the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium require that in the reform of the liturgy?  Check our SC 23.

23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

As far as possible, notable differences between the rites used in adjacent regions must be carefully avoided.

Even though that paragraph may refer more to the structure of Mass itself, would the “spirit” of such a requirement not apply to the observance of a feast with such theological import for the East and the West?

Eastern Christians haven’t transferred Ascension.  What must the Easterners think of this Latin innovation?

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.  But I digress.

Thank God for Pope Benedict and the provisions  in Summorum Pontificum by which he emancipated us and expanded the use also of the pre-Conciliar liturgy.

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 – is exerting – a “gravitational pull” on the celebration of the newer forms and the whole Church will benefit.

His scriptis, Really Bad Idea or not we nevertheless conform our celebration of Ascension to the Ordo, the liturgical calendar, established for the diocese (or religious institute) for either the Ordinary Form or the Extraordinary Form.

Thus endeth this year’s Ascension Thursday rant.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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56 Responses to Fr. Z’s annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday

  1. Andreas says:

    Not only is Christi Himmelfahrt (The Feast of the Christ’s Ascension) celebrated today (Thursday) here in Austria and next door in Bavaria, but it is also a national religious holiday. Most businesses are closed, there is no school for children and (after Mass this morning) families will spend what promises to be a beautiful day together.

  2. Gentillylace says:

    A Facebook friend of mine who lives in Lyon was telling me on Wednesday evening that the Feast of the Ascension is a national holiday in France, much cherished as a day off even by non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics. I think that if Ascension Thursday were a national holiday in the US, it would be easier for more Catholics to attend Mass on that day.

    Of course, since only about a quarter of the US population has even the shadow of a Catholic heritage (much less attend Mass with any regularity), the dream that the US make national holidays of Catholic solemnities is all but impossible unless there is a miracle of national conversion. Until then, however, it is probably easier for most people who have to work on Thursday to fulfill the obligation for Ascension on Sunday :-(

  3. Mindyleigh says:

    Our Byzantine priest reminded us on Sunday that Ascension Thursday, not Sunday, is a holy day of obligation for us and that we have two options: the Divine Liturgy celebrating the Vigil tonight, or the Extraordinary Form in the Dominican Rite on Thursday night.

  4. Fiat Mihi says:

    Here in Nebraska, it is Ascension Thursday.

  5. cwillia1 says:

    There is a tendency in the Latin Church to make it as convenient as possible for people to meet their obligations. But this has the effect of de-emphasizing the sanctification of time – a key aspect of liturgy. The liturgy stands outside of us. We conform our lives to the liturgy over our lifespan as our circumstances allow. It is more important for people to consider prayerfully holy days such as Ascension and the extent to which the circumstances of their lives allow them to participate rather than to hear certain texts read on Sunday when everyone might be able to come. It is not a matter of you must do x,y,z and we will make it as easy as possible for you. It should rather be this is our life as Christians and you should arrange the details of your personal life so that you can share in it as fully as possible. The Latin Church should restore the Advent fast and fasting on Wednesdays – not to lay more obligations and burdens on people but rather to challenge them to set ever higher standards for their own participation.

  6. mamajen says:

    It’s a holy day of obligation in the Syracuse, NY diocese.

  7. iPadre says:

    The New Evangelization must flow from Worship. If we don’t have good and solid worship, there will be no conversion. Lowering standards does not promote conversion, but indifference. I have been told so many times, if it’s not a Holy Day on Monday or Saturday, than it never is. Indifference!

    My first Mass of the day had 53 people. When I was ordained 21 years ago, you couldn’t fit the people in the church. Is this because people have more obligations? NO – Indifference!

  8. Rellis says:

    There’s a simple process I’ve developed for being sane about this (it also works for Corpus Christi and Epiphany):

    1. Go to a TLM for the desecrated day.
    2. Pretend there is still an octave for this feast (these were gone by 1961 books)
    3. Pretend that the following Sunday is merely a day within that octave
    4. Pretend on Sunday that your parish is, for pastoral reasons, celebrating an external solemnity of the feastday within the octave
    5. If you pray the Office (non-clerics only here), do so as if the day had never been moved

    Since I’ve started doing this, my annoyance level has gone way, way down.

  9. VexillaRegis says:

    Asencion Day is a holiday in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, but not in Finland, Iceland and The Faroe Islands. Since it always falls on a Thursday, the schools in D, N and S are closed on the friday and people with “9-5″jobs usually have the day off too.

    Priests always work, though…

  10. VexillaRegis says:

    A-s-c-e-n-s-i-o-n, from scando. Sorry.

  11. Lepidus says:

    Father states (with just a hint of sarcasm) that it is toooo haaard for the people to go to Mass on Thursday. I wonder, however, if it is “too hard” for the people or for the modernist priests who see their vocation as a 9-5 job? When I was growing up in the 70′s and 80′s we had a good, holy priest (RIP, Father S.) – even in the Milwaukee area. We had a vigil Mass AND an evening Mass on the Holy Days, which was at 7:00 PM. Most of my neighbors lived within 5 minutes of their jobs. Now we only have one evening Mass at 6:30 and I know of nobody, except the fireman, who doesn’t have a good drive ahead of them. I’ve been lucky enough to be in a situation where I can get out of work at a reasonable time and/or take a day off, but not everybody is in that situation.

  12. Pearl says:

    May I pose a question?

    Our diocese is one where the Feast of the Ascension has been transferred to Sunday.

    At the parish where my family attends the TLM, we have only had Mass on the Feast of the Ascension in the Extraordinary Form once since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum. The following Sunday, all the Ordinary Form Masses have the Mass for the Feast of the Ascension, but we have the Mass for the Sunday after the Ascension.

    So, in effect, I have missed fulfilling my obligation to attend Mass on the Feast of the Ascension for 5 of the last 6 years (or so).

    Question: am I held accountable for this? Am I in sin because I did not fufill my obligation? Does my question even make sense?

    Thank you for any help you can give me!

    [Two things: If, where you are, in the Ordinary Form the observance of Ascension Thursday is transferred to the following Sunday, you have no obligation on what would be Ascension Thursday in the traditional calendar. Yes, the Ordinary Form establishes the juridical obligation. Of course every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation. In the places where Ascension is transferred, there is no obligation on Thursday. In the places where Ascension is NOT transferred, there IS an obligation. Make sense? Second, in order to commit a mortal sin, you have to know that what you did was wrong and then choose to do it anyway. It sounds as if you sincerely thought you were fulfilling your obligations. I don't think this is something you would have to confess as a mortal sin. Don't worry about that.]

  13. Lepidus says:

    One other thing I forgot to mention. While we celebrate Ascension Thursday Sunday, the last time we had a Holy Day (actually it was the Triduum, but the same still applies), the announcement before Mass was “See the bulletin for the Mass schedule – said the Sunday before. Compare on contrast that to announcements over the previous month regarding dates, times, and a “see you there” for the fish fry.

  14. PMK says:

    In the Diocese of Greensburg (PA-near Pittsburgh), Ascension Thursday has not been transferred. Attended vigil last night.

  15. NYer says:

    Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Maronite Catholic Church. Our parish has two masses today – one in the early morning for commuters and another this evening for those who prefer to attend after work.

  16. LarryW2LJ says:

    Today is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey. I went for 6:30 AM Mass this morning. Then I returned home to drop my two children off at school, Holy Savior Academy, our deanery school. I seem to vaguely remember though, having Ascension Thursday as a day off from school when I was attending St. Mary’s of Ostrabrama as a kid.

  17. Fr AJ says:

    In the US the ecclesiastical Provinces (not dioceses) of Boston, Hartford, New York, Omaha, and Philadelphia have retained the feast of the Ascension on Thursday. What this means is all the dioceses in these Provinces celebrate the Ascension on Thursday.

  18. The TLM that I’m attending this evening will be the Mass of the Ascension of Our Lord celebrated on this its proper feast day. The TLM that I’m attending this coming Sunday will be the Mass of the Ascension celebrated as an external solemnity for the benefit of those unable it to attend on Ascension Thursday. Surely it is good, not bad, to experience twice the liturgy of the Ascension.

  19. TopSully says:

    In the diocese of Pittsburgh, PA today is Ascension Thursday, a Holy Day and I will be attending mass at noon downtown. Luckily they have noon mass daily downtown so when we have Holy Days in the week I can easily attend. We also are luck enough to have confession heard daily here which is also very helpful. Oh, and every time I go to confession there is always a line.

  20. Darren says:

    Here I am, sitting in Texas where the feast has been transferred to Sunday (here on business). My flight out is between 5 and 6 so I could not go to the FSSP parish in Irving if I wanted to (not traveling alone either and I do not have the car), and I will not be back in NJ until after 10 PM… so I feel like I am losing out.

    Re Fr. AJ… the Ecclesiastical Province of Newark, NJ also celebrates on Ascension Thursday (that covers all of NJ). It is strange… it is the northeast, and Nebraska, which have retained it on Thursday. Why Nebraska out of all the others?

  21. ReginaMarie says:

    cwillia1: You are spot-on.
    As Fr. Z mentioned, Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day for Eastern Catholics. Our tiny Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic parish in WV will celebrate the Divine Liturgy this evening for the Feast. We will begin with the veneration of the icon for the Feast & end with mirovanije (anointing) & the distribution of antidoron (blessed bread).

    O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory,
    Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit.
    Through the blessing they were assured
    That You are the Son of God,
    The Redeemer of the world!

  22. dominic1955 says:

    I would think that we’ve retained Ascension Thursday in Nebraska because of the bishops we probably had at the time all this transfering was going on-Archbishop Bergan (Omaha), Bishop Flavin (Lincoln) and Bishop Paschang (Grand Island). All three were pretty solid.

  23. Long-Skirts says:


    In the gold mouth
    Of the morning
    I knead the bread
    From wheat.

    Mix broccoli, bacon
    In wooden bowl
    Add raisins
    Sugared sweet.

    A Burgundy wine
    From His own grape
    Marinating beef
    Will seep.

    Then later boil
    Egg noodles, white
    Pile in a
    Buttered heap.

    Chocolate cake
    Oh what a gift
    Cocoa bean!

    All day prepared
    And used His cloth
    From cotton plant
    To clean.

    The guests all gather
    Toast the Feast
    We pray, we laugh
    And eat.

    Then with our coffees
    Outside crisp
    Round fire
    Take a seat.

    For today is a Feast
    Ascension Thursday
    No bother cold
    No grief.

    And to top it off
    We have some smokes
    From His glorious
    Tobacco leaf!

    Then fire’s flames
    Faint to a glow
    Some stare
    As it looses its might.

    While others sigh
    For sleep is nigh…
    And smoke streams into the black-silk
    Of His night.

  24. majuscule says:

    One of the interesting effects of not attending Mass for many years and thus missing the “innovations” after Vatican II is that I recall things like Ascension Thursday not being on a Sunday. But where I am it has been transferred to Sunday. I try to get to a weekday Mass in these cases but at this particular time in my life I am taking care of an elderly person and it’s a 45 minute drive to the closest Mass. So Sunday will have to suffice.

  25. chonak says:

    Oh, it’s still tooo haaarrrdddd to attend Mass 52 Sundays a year. But here’s a solution: let’s move those Sundays and observe them all on Easter:

  26. Liturgical subtleties may be little appreciated nowadays, but there is an important difference between

    (1) A duplicate EF celebration of the Mass of the Ascension as an external solemnity on the Sunday following Ascension Thursday, and

    (2) The OF transfer of the Feast of the Ascension from Thursday to Sunday.

    Indeed, it can be argued that (1) is a Good Idea, whereas (2) is a Bad Idea.

    On the EF calendar, the Ascension remains on Thursday. Both the Mass and the Office of the Ascension are said on Ascension Thursday. But like any other 1st class feast, it’s Mass can be celebrated also on another day, as an external solemnity for the benefit of the faithful who cannot attend it on its proper feast day. At the present time, the scarcity of TLM’s is such that many faithful simply cannot make it to a TLM scheduled at an accessible time or place on a weekday.

    Whereas on the OF calendar, the Thursday feast itself is transferred whole cloth to the following Sunday, resulting in the Ascension Thursday Sunday that is senseless on its face. The Mass of the Thursday Ascension is said on Sunday, but not on its proper Thursday.

    In my view, it would have been more logical for the OF to do as the EF does. . . Keep the Feast of the Assumption on Thursday, but allow its Mass to be celebrated also on the following Sunday, for the benefit of those who could not make it on the proper Thursday.

    The question of whether the Ascension is still a day of obligation is an entirely different question from what day it is. However, it might be argued that OF Masses at different times and places are so ubiquitous that virtually everyone can make it to a Thursday OF Mass. So why not keep the Ascension Thursday obligation for the OF (if not for the EF!)?

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  29. Darren says:

    @mamajen That’s good to know about Syracuse. My job will be sending me there too.

  30. dean24us says:

    Forgive my ignorance on this, but I was hoping the group might be able to answer a question… Like many, I live in a diocese that has transferred the Ascension to Sunday. Would there be anything preventing my individual parish from celebrating the Ascension on both Thursday and Sunday? Granted, I’d have to run the idea past my pastor, and I know it doesn’t rise to the same ‘level’ as being a diocese-wide Holy Day of Obligation. However, I know many of the more ‘pious’ (for lack of a better term) parishioners would rather celebrate the Ascension on its normally-scheduled day, even if that means celebrating the Ascension on both Thursday and Sunday. Thoughts?

  31. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Good for Omaha, but How did Omaha decide to band with the other North Atlantic dioceses?

  32. future_sister says:

    The dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich in CT today is also a Holy day of Obligation!!! :) of course all of the Catholic students here at UCONN are complaining because it’s finals week. But our priests on campus know this and scheduled an evening Mass that doesn’t fall during any final exam periods thus guaranteeing that no students have an excuse.
    Actually, a question. I have a friend who was here this morning for an exam and has left for New Hampshire by now. In his home diocese where he is heading today is not a Day of Obligation, and since there were no earlier mass times he could make it to here he decided whatever it didn’t matter. Which is he bound by if he was in a diocese this morning where it is a Holy Day, but he is returning home right now (a 4 hour drive) to where it isn’t?

  33. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’m in the Diocese of Norwich (CT, not the U.K.) and here, today is Ascension Thursday. I don’t know what an ecclesiastical province is. I’ve never heard it mentioned before, but just based on logistical proximity, I’m assuming that Norwich is in the ecclesiastical province of Hartford, which explains how and why we have been speared Ascension Thursday-Sunday. Thank God! If we have to endure life in liberal never-never land, we should at least get to keep Ascension Thursday on Thursday, IMHO.

  34. OrthodoxChick says:

    OOPS! That’s spared, not “speared”, although trying to live a traditonal Catholic life here can sometimes feel like one is being speared!

  35. chonak says:

    Future_sis, Ascension is a Holy Day (and observed on Thursday) in New Hampshire (and all of the six New England states).

  36. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Andreas,
    actually, all of Germany…

    Dear @Rellis,
    great. Simply great.

    Dear @cwillia1,
    I certainly would object to making such a big heightening as you propose. Prudence is a difficult thing. Of course you are (and our reverend host is) right: the great amount of laxation we have been exposed of late, besides taking away many fasts and feasts that would otherwise have been observed, even works counterproductively, and the comparatively little that remains is even more easily disregarded.

    Nevertheless, it is true that we now live in an environment with a lot of people who, if they are not decidedly not Christians or decidedly nonpracticing Christians, at least do not choose to follow any sort of rules (except, perhaps, those of natural law they personally recognize as such). We cannot, as far as these things are concerned, count on the compelling force of society and general decency. To expose the faithful living in such environment to practices so heavy as you proposed, could not but be understood by them as “you’re always to be worse off”. And this would be heavily problematic. There is at least this good in non-obligation that it hinders grumbling giving. God loveth a joyful giver; and if it is so very easy to commit mortal sins, then by mere psychology, the motivation to not do them will be diminished. [When I'm late (e. g. for Church), you can see me running; when I have heard the bell ring and know that what I was running to has started, I by instinct slow down my speed.]

    Which will not lead to them to, as you say, challenge them to set ever higher standards for their own participation. On the other hand, the effect would be: maybe some falling away because they “do not meet the criteria”, and the rest, grumbling, which does not make for good mission.

    Hence… the thing is not easy. And legislation, of course, exists precisely for such a purpose, to find a safe middle ground and establish it in law. (By which I’m not saying that the present legislation is unquestionable; it should be obvious it has a striking inclination to not enact duties.)

    So what to do now? (To give some concrete answers, though I know I’m bad at doing so)

    Restore the Wednesday fast? No. Fitting for voluntary activity.
    Restore the Advent fast? No, if only for the reason that the recent development of Advent as a joyful season was not totally without justification. In Advent, the semi-secular world gives proof that the Christian cause is still deeply rooted in our culture; and Advent and Christmas is the season of the year where almost everyone becomes a traditionalist, meets his family, etc.; it would be inefficient to force ourselves out of this culture.
    Restore the Friday binding abstinence of meat? Rather yes.
    Restore the Ember Day fast and the Lenten Friday fast? Rather yes.
    Restore Epiphany and Ascension (being among the five major feasts of the Christian year) to their proper places? Yes. About Corpus Christi, which after all is the resumption of Holy Thursday after the Lenten fast and Easter time, I’m not so sure; if the alternative is between removing the obligation (with normal Sunday Mass) and transferring the feast, I’d advocate for the latter.
    Restore confession-independent Christian feasts (to which Epiphany and Ascension belong) as public holidays in Christian nations (to which the United States belongs)? Certainly yes.
    Restore Catholic feasts in Catholic nations (to which, thinking of Corpus Christi now, Italy belongs)? Certainly yes.

    General question:
    In a nation where a holiday of obligation is no public holiday (I do not know such a thing from my home!), what happens with the constituent part “do not work on this day”, and what about those whose work (not belonging to the normal class of exceptions such as soldier, policeman, doctor etc.) does not permit them to attend any Mass?

  37. future_sister says:

    Dear @OrthodoxChic we live in the same diocese!!! how cool is that!

    Dear @Chonak well, I should tell my friend this since his parents told him it’s not, and they didn’t know anything about it. Thank you!

  38. OrthodoxChick says:

    Dear future sister,

    Did you say you’re at UCONN? That’s about 45 minutes from my house!

  39. Aquino says:

    I am from Boston and until this year I didn’t even know that most diocese in the US celebrated the solemnity on sunday. It doesn’t make any sense y do people feel the need to simplify things in liturgical practice. It might make some peoples lives easier but that isnt the point of the church. The point of the church is for people to grow in union with God and become saints. Simplifying our liturgy does the opposite and gives people the notion that the liturgy isnt that important.

  40. Matt R says:

    oakdiocesegirl, Omaha is rather conservative and traditional. I loved Archbishop Curtiss when I was out that way, and I like what I hear of his successor. And of course, the suffragan bishop from the region we are most familiar with here on the blog was Bp Bruskewitz and now Bp Conley of Lincoln.

  41. Simon_GNR says:

    The move of the feast of the Ascension to the Sunday after Ascension Thursday applies to all the dioceses of England and Wales. I dislike this messing about with the calendar and I wish the Bishops’ Conference would reverse this decision. I wonder whether, if thousands of people wrote to the bishops asking for the restoration of Ascension Day to the proper day, or signed a petition to that effect, their lordships would take any notice, or whether we are going to be stuck with this nonsense for evermore. It seems to me to be a devaluing of the day to move it and the Epiphany to a Sunday, in order to make it easier for people to meet their obligations. I didn’t become a Catholic because I wanted an easy life! One of the things that first attracted to me about Catholicism was the *discipline* the Church imposes on the faithful in various ways, not least the obligation to attend Mass on certain feast days. Leave the easy-going, believe what you like, do-as-the-Spirit-moves-you attitude to the Protestants!! I respect a hierachy that says, for example, that I must not eat meat on Fridays and that I must observe a brief fast before holy communion. Watering down traditional disciplines and obligations wins no respect from me! (When I was received into the Church I was disappointed not to be required to assent to the Tridentine Confession of Faith, which includes an explicit rejection of heresy.)

  42. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Aquino and @Simon_GNR,

    make some peoples lives easier but that isnt the point of the church.
    Nor is making them harder. – Indeed I even suspect one might say “yes it is (secondarily)”. No place to debate that here, but at any rate the equation “easy = morally defective” is rather undeducible.

    Leave the easy-going [...] attitude to the Protestants!!
    No; either shun it for being wrong (and convert the Protestants who have it), or integrate it into the Catholic Church. (Hint: do both.)

    After all, Catholicism is what formed Italy. (Excuse the stereotype, dear Italians, and be assured that I say it in utmost sympathy.)

    Watering down traditional disciplines and obligations wins no respect from me!

    Winning someone’s respect is not the point of the Church. Respecting the Church because she is the Church, whatever her present leadership’s misachievements, is one of the points of the Catholic Christian.

    That said,

    restore Ascension to its proper date. Frankly, coming to think about it I believe it is better to remove the obligation, giving at least to those who will the chance to have the full program of the liturgy.

  43. Imrahil says:

    … than having it the way it presently is in the United States and other countries.

    Still better, at least about so great a solemnity as is Ascension, is having it obligatorily on the Thursday even when this is no public holiday.

    [Just to be clear what I mean. My previous comment sounded less clear than when I read it again.]

  44. Imrahil says:

    less clear than I intended them to do.


  45. I don’t understand why Catholics cannot take off from work on Ascension Thursday, even if they take it as an unpaid day off. I have always taken off all Catholic holydays and simply make sure that I work extra hard the rest of the year so that such reckless behavior is not questioned. Three or four personal days a year is not going to bring any company to its knees. Besides, if I were an employer, I would want to encourage religious practice among my employees– what do I want them to do, start embezzling from me and being lazy and shiftless? If they go to church, they’ll hopefully learn to be upright corporate citizens, honest, decent, and hardworking, like St. Joseph the Worker, whose feast we just celebrated. If enough Catholics took off, maybe nothing would get done anyway on our holy days and they would be made into civil holidays. I often say that a rising tide raises all boats, but we have been waiting for the tide to rise on its own instead of forcing it to rise. So instead, the falling tide keeps falling, and the boats keep getting lower and lower.

  46. Elodie says:

    My archdiocese has the nerve to give us Ascension Thursday Sunday BUT we still get envelopes for Ascension Thursday, today. I did not make a donation. Hey, it was the regular Thursday Mass, not the Ascension Thursday Mass. You want the donation? Give me the Mass.

    Is that way too small and petty of me? I’m not sure.

  47. catholiccomelately says:

    My husband and I are doing a Novena for the Holy Spirit (in the back of the Daily Roman Missal) to remember the Ascension and Pentecost ………….. it is a blessed reminder of that for which we wait as God’s people : the coming of the Spirit in our lives and in His Church, which drives us into His mission and life.
    Father Z, thank you for all your hard work and prayer on the behalf of the whole Church (and us!)

  48. Giuseppe says:

    Am I the only one juvenile enough to chuckle everytime I see the German word for Ascension: Himmelfahrt? Years ago, I was in Munich for a few weeks in the spring, and I became convinced that Himmelfahrt had to be Pentecost, because ‘fahrt’ had to mean a gust of wind…

  49. Pingback: Start Your Novena! | Quasi Renaissance Man

  50. JonPatrick says:

    Having reached my 10th anniversary at work, got 5 additional vacation days (!), so this year decided I would try to take off the feast days that occur during the week, so I took a day off yesterday and was able to attend a 7:30 AM EF Missa Cantata with my family, followed by a relaxing day off with said family.

    Seemed strange driving to/from Mas with “normal” secular life going on around us, definitely felt counter-cultural to be Catholic today.

  51. PReagan says:

    While I completely agree with Fr. Z and most commentors that we should NOT have Ascension Thursday-Sunday, there is one factor that adds to the excuse for doing this in many provinces – and that is the shortage of priests. I notice in many comments that some people still have the option of a 6:00 or 6:30 am Mass (or even 7:30) – but sadly in many parishes I have been in such is not the case even on Holy Days. For centuries the Holy Days were also “days of rest,” but sadly in so many places we are too secular for that. So, for instance, one parish I was in had a 9:00 am Mass and a 4:30 pm Mass on a Holy Day! I am fortunate that I can work my schedule (as I did yesterday) to attend Mass – but even with the wish to conform ourselves to the Liturgy many people do not have that option. I could blame parish priests for this (and might for the schedule I just noted) but I know the burden many parish priests carry today. The simple equation is: more priests = more Masses. If we take away this factor maybe the Bishops will see it differently. In the meantime I am thankful for people like Fr. Z who keep pushing us all to “do this right.”

    I pray for vocations weekly, but thinking about this I made a promise yesterday to say a prayer for vocations daily for the next year (Ascension Thursday – Ascension Thursday). “Oh good Jesus, you called your Apostles from all walks of life, and you opened their hearts to hear your call and follow you. Through them and their successors you built your Holy Church in this world. I beseech you to hear the prayers of your Church today, and send the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of young men that they may hear and answer your call to the priesthood. Amen.”

  52. Former Altar Boy says:

    Now that Cardinal (cough cough gag) Mahoney is no longer “senior” bishop of California, oh that the California bishops would get together and return Ascension Thursday to its proper place in the week. (And meatless Fridays while they’re at it, but one thing at a time.)

  53. To echo JonPatrick’s comment, I was able to attend a beautiful 10:30 AM extraordinary form Mass not too far from me. The extinguishing of the Easter candle is something I had never before witnessed, and it was actually very moving. Sadly, only about 75 or so people were there in a church that could hold about 700-1000 if full. I don’t know how many people regularly attend the Sunday extraordinary form Mass there, but it is normally in a chapel that holds about 100 people.

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  55. Mrs. Bear says:

    Only 2!! Holy Days of Obligation in Canada!!

    Christmas and Feastday of Mary, Mother of God.

    Ascension is on Sunday here in Canada.