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.

You fulfill your obligation by going to Mass either Ascension Thursday or 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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Iacobus M says:

    In the Diocese of Portland, Maine, we will be celebrating Ascension Thursday Thursday. A few years back my lovely bride heard an elderly priest use his Ascension homily to complain that we should conform to the rest of the Church in the United States and move the feast to Sunday. Doesn’t seem to bother any of the young priests, which is a hopeful sign.

  2. LarryW2LJ says:

    In the Diocese of Metuchen (NJ), the Holy day has not been transferred. The Holy Day of Obligation is still this Thursday, and I even read an announcement to the congregation concerning this before Mass started last Sunday.

    I will be reading at 6:30 AM Mass on Thursday, which is cool that I will be able to fulfill my obligation before leaving for work. Never hurts to go to Mass before heading off for work. ;-)

  3. Will D. says:

    To quote from the USCCB calendar (pdf here) (emphasis mine):

    Regarding the Ascension of the Lord, the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia have retained its celebration on the proper Thursday, while all other provinces have transferred this Solemnity to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 1. If transferred, Thursday, May 29 is observed as an Easter Weekday.

    So that includes the suffragan sees of those archdioceses. If I didn’t have obligations in town, I’d make a road trip to Nebraska on Ascension Thursday Thursday for Mass.

  4. jfk03 says:

    Byzantine Catholics celebrate Ascension on Thursday, not Sunday. It is a day of obligation.

  5. msc says:

    I, too, have ranted about this for years. In the dioceses in which I have lived, feasts such as the Ascension, Epiphany, the Annunciation, the Transfiguration, etc. have all been moved to the following Sunday. But perhaps the biggest annoyance is how the whole passion story is read both on Palm Sunday (because, I presume, too many people don’t attend on Good Friday) and Good Friday. And then there are the feasts they’ve dropped altogether, such as the Circumcision. I agree that it is all based on reduced expectations. Of course, if Mass were a more generally moving and aesthetically pleasant experience than the standard Novus Ordo, it would help make people more willing to attend during the week. But, alas, with feasts such as Holy Thursday come bonus amounts of bad music and ugly liturgy. Sometimes its enough to keep even me away.

  6. Athelstan says:

    Some dioceses have done the transfer surprisingly recently. Cardinal Keeler, for example, transferred it for Baltimore in 2002. Which, unfortunately, seemed rather in character for him.

  7. capchoirgirl says:

    I agree. Ridiculous. Really, guys, the God who made you, who provides you with life and all good things, isn’t worth an extra trip to Mass during the week?

  8. TMKent says:

    meanwhile in Charlotte…

    On Thursday evening, May 29th at 7:00 p.m. the
    Carolina Catholic Chorale will sing Johann Michael
    Haydn’s Missa Beatissimae Virginis Mariae as sacred
    music for a Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form here
    at St. Ann Catholic Church. The Chorale, directed by
    Thomas F. Savoy, will be accompanied by a nine piece
    chamber orchestra and organ. This exuberant work of a
    young Haydn is fitting music for the joyful Feast of the
    Ascension. The St. Ann’s Schola, under the direction of
    Terese, will render the Gregorian chants of the day.
    Come and join us for a worship experience of sublime
    beauty in sight and in sound. For more information, call
    518-878-5660 or email:

  9. Bea says:

    We (my husband and I) are ranting/raging with you, Father.
    This flood of novelties is watering down our Faith.

    Why can’t our Bishops see the 40 days/years connection.
    40 days of the flood
    40 years wandering in the desert
    40 days after Christ’s birth (Feb 2nd) Traditional Presentation of Jesus in the temple (also known as Candlemas day and/or the Purification of Our Lady)
    40 days of fasting before Christ started his ministry to us
    40 days of fasting for us from Ash Wednesday to the Resurrection (excluding Sundays)
    40 days Ascension after the Resurrection
    Who knows what other “40s” I’m missing but there is a symbolism established by Our Lord, Himself on these 40 day/year cycles.

    Another thing that gets me is the Rosary changes (luminous mysteries):
    150 psalms
    150 Hail Marys in the Traditional Rosary.
    But that’s another ball of wax.

  10. Elodie says:

    Preach it, Father Z!

    My Archdiocese has, alas, transferred it. My parish, thankfully, will add as many Masses as any Holy Day for Ascension THURSDAY.

    It was beautiful. While our pastor didn’t use the exact words “stickin’ it to the man,” that’s kind of how he came across on Sunday, when he announced that we WOULD be having these Masses. Huzzah!

  11. LeeF says:

    The real question regarding “too hard” is for whom. The laity or priests? For if the laity are supposed to observe a weekday Mass obligation, that means the priests have to make provision, even a generous provision, of extra Mass(es) to accommodate them. AND preach about the grave necessity of attending said holy day Mass. In the current situation of priest shortages many priests are sorely overburdened. Yet that is the priesthood they have chosen and the cross they must bear. Generous offering of the sacraments and mercy and faithfulness in same have to be one of the hallmarks of a faithful priest. We should all pray that our priests may willingly and gladly seek more, rather than less, opportunities to offer the sacraments.

  12. majuscule says:

    We don’t have an “official” Ascension Thursday Mass…but…

    We have a priest who has found enough encouragement among parishioners to offer weekday EF Masses whenever he can fit them into his schedule when the church is free. Sometimes this can be as many as three times in one week–but usually one or two.

    Thursday is one of those days! So we get Ascension Thursday EFand Ascension Thursday Sunday OF!

  13. Trenton NJ is still Ascension Thursday. Thank goodness after some of the Looney Tunes that went on before in between +Ahr and the current ordinary +O’Connell, it somehow managed to stay where it belonged.

  14. rusynbyz says:

    We Byzantines think that this Latin innovation stuff is nonsense (and that you should go to Church on Thursday, because that’s Ascension Thursday).

  15. Ttony says:

    Father, you’re right of course that the Vigil of the Ascension is now celebrated in the NO as well as in the EF: unfortunately, it will be celebrated here as the Saturday evening Vigil mass, so that it will be the Saturday Vigil of Ascension Thursday Sunday.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    In the Davenport Diocese, to my knowledge, there is no Ascension Thursday Mass and not in the TLM either. Many parishes in the rural areas do not have daily Mass. Sadly, one has no choice but to celebrate the Ascension on Sunday.

    But what does the TLM calendar allow, if there is no TLM Thursday? Does it as well get transferred?

    Or skipped?

  17. Byzantine Ascension Thursday it is. More HDO’s not less

  18. The Cobbler says:

    Dear Byzantines,

    Ascension Thursday Sunday is about as Latin as Redneck eating habits are Eastern.

  19. JMJT says:

    Archdiocese of Boston
    2014 Thursday, May 29 Ascension Thursday IS a holy day of obligation.

    (Extraordinary Form, Latin Mass)
    Cathedral of the Holy Cross
    1400 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118
    Thursday, May 29th
    7:30 p.m.

    Saint Adelaide Parish, 712 Lowell St, Peabody, MA 01960
    Thursday, May 29th
    7:30 p.m. (Latin Mass)

    Also, at
    St. Lawrence Church, 774 Boylston St, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
    there will be Anglican-use Liturgy Ascension Day ***Vigil***
    Vigil Mass on Wednesday May 28 at 7.30 pm.

  20. Long-Skirts says:


    Ascension Thursday’s Sunday.
    Corpus Christi got the boot
    And this year since it’s Saturday
    All Saints’ Day will be moot.

    ‘Cause Saturday’s by Sunday
    And Monday just won’t scoot
    And two days in a row for God
    That’s yielding too much fruit.

    So if we play our cards right
    Let money trump all suits,
    We’ll end all militant Sundays
    Obliging happy pursuits.

  21. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “And behold two men stood by them in white garments.
    Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven?
    It is but Thursday, and a midweek day for men to work and make shekels
    And ye are all far, far too busy with usury and goat-tending
    To deign to come and worship the Risen Lord.
    For lo: Heavenward thoughts and gatherings are allowed only on the Lord’s Day
    So come back on Sunday and have a proper look upwards then.”

    [Acts of the Apostles 1:10-11 – Unauthorized Version]

  22. William Tighe says:

    I am a member of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and so not a Catholic of the Latin Rite. We thus celebrate ASCENSION DAY this coming Thursday. The local Latin Catholic diocese, that of Allentown, PA, has also retained the celebration of the Ascension on its proper date.

    I have a question, for which I would solicit answers from those better informed than I am. Have any of the non-Byzantine Eastern Catholic sui juris churches altered the celebration of this feast in emulation of the silliness of “Ascension Thursday Sunday?” It would, perhaps, invidious to single out particular examples, but four non-Byzantine Eastern Catholic ritual churches (three of them with dioceses in the United States) “reformed” their rites in the 1970s or 80s, in a similar heavy-handed and unhistorical (“hermeneutic of rupture?”) way to what happened in the Latin Church in 1969/70 (prayers abbreviated, altered, or omitted altogether — and, of course, celebration “facing the people”). I wonder how far such “reforms” have gone in these calendrical choppings as well.

  23. YorkshireStudent says:

    This whole moving thing has got to be sorted out, it is creating genuine disunity of practice. If for example I told you I couldn’t get to Mass on Ascension Day because of a Catholic Students Society event, which I’m cooking for, you’d probably be confused as to why the Society scheduled one the same time as Ascension Day Mass.
    The answer, of course is that I’m the only one who attends EF and (since I’ve only just started) didn’t realise that there had been a date change (which our priest has quite rightly corrected), and I can’t imagine anyone else thought of it when planning the event! Actually, there’s a party game – I’ll ask and see how many “What are you talking about”s I get!

  24. Traductora says:

    If I had more than two thumbs, I’d hold them all up for this great post. People are upset about the destruction of the liturgy, but something that was almost more destructive, in my opinion, was the destruction of the calendar. It left us with no pegs to hang our years on. And what made that even worse was giving up what little remained of the calendar to the lazy whims of the bishops, who could then decide that Thursday was Sunday.

  25. Peyton says:

    I just looked it up: Acts 1:3 RSVCE

    “To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty-three days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.”

  26. Pearl says:

    Supertradmum – I belong to a parish that only has the TLM on Sundays. I have not been to an Ascension Day Mass in 6 years.

  27. I was thinking of going away this weekend, but with the liturgical silliness, it will probably be too much trouble, so I’ll just stay in New York, where we don’t subscribe to that particular form of silliness. We will have quite enough Ascension Thursday Masses on Ascension Thursday and quite enough Seventh Sunday of Easter Masses on Sunday.

  28. mpolo says:

    Germany protected Ascension Thursday in a rather clever way, I think. When people started looking for Federal Holidays to axe, somebody got the bright idea to put Fathers’ Day on Ascension Thursday. Of course, they couldn’t cut Fathers’ Day from the calendar.

    Which means that nobody transfers it to Sunday around here. I think the logic for Fathers’ Day is something like “Jesus went to visit his Father in Heaven and you should, too.”

  29. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Ours is another diocese that transfers Ascension Thursday to Sunday.

    I believe the notion that eliminated Holy Days of obligation were no longer well attended, as one fine priest tried to explain to me, does not hold water.

    Even in our rural area on Ash Wednesday, which *is not* a Holy Day of obligation, the churches are *packed*!

    If they were catechized well – the faithful would still come out for those eliminated Holy Days. I would bet on it. (at least, in our neck-of-the-woods)


  30. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Correction: I should have said *transferred* not “eliminated.” My bad.

    Point is, if the obligation were still there they would come out to worship our Blessed Lord.


  31. Imrahil says:

    Dear mpolo,

    while it is true that for some reason (perhaps alike the one you suggested) Ascension is the date for Fathers’ Day in Germany, the reason Ascension is a public holiday is that it is Ascension.

    The thing is simply that we kept the idea of having holy days holidays… The other länder are worse off to a degree of course, but in mine, we have Christmas, St. Stephen, St. Mary, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension, Pentecost Monday, Corpus Christi, Assumption and All Saints. Extra Bavariam non est vita, et si est vita non est ita.

    [Technical point: The only “federal holiday” is Unity Day, and perhaps Memorial Day which falls on a Sunday. Ascension belongs to those holidays which, while they are observed in each state, are so as state holidays.]

    Hence, the real solution would be that as Christian a nation as America should somehow get it done that at least the ecumenically undisputed holidays, to which Ascension belongs, ought to be declared a public day of rest by public law.

    That said, Italy is a Christian country too, and would Italian lawmakers ever have got the mere idea to put Ascension off the statute books if it hadn’t, somewhat, been suggested by the fact that the Church allows the transfer?

    – The “traditional basis” for the transfer seems to be the idea that feasts dearly beloved by the populace, which are not holy days of obligation, get an “external celebration” on the following Sunday. But then they would be celebrated on their own day too, and the Sunday would be commemorated and its Gospel would be read in fine.

    On the other hand, laxing an obligation on a hdo that is not a public holiday is a thing that may have good reasons – the traditional notion of a holiday included that there be no work. Coming to think of it, wouldn’t it be worth the thought that, if the State won’t make the holiday public at the Church’s bidding, the Church herself could require Christian entrepreneurs to close down and Christian employees to at least request vacation from their employers? (Not suggesting that at a moment when the Church doesn’t require it such as now, it would be a sin not to do so.)

  32. Imrahil says:

    Of course one other problem in this area is the idea that “on Ascension we celebrate nothing but easter” and that somehow preachers are not wont to – I shall not say believe, that’s none of my business, but – require their audience to believe that the event described in Acts 1 actually took place.

  33. vetusta ecclesia says:

    In the UK, where the bench of bishops has been in to anything that undermines tradition, we have had feasts transferred, including those celebrated by Anglicans. The notoriously secular BBC usually (we shall see tomorrow) broadcasts an Ascension hymn before the 7 am news on the appropriate Thursday.

    I notice that the Universalis ap. does not give the alternative.

    One casualty of these transfers, especially in May / June, is the coherence of the new Lectionary, so beloved by progressives.

  34. MarkG says:

    There are Catholic Churches that celebrate Ascension Thursday on Sunday?
    I’ve very surprised to hear this – never heard of such.
    I could see if a parish or mission only had a priest on Sunday moving Ascension or other Holy Days to Sunday, but not in a regular parish.

  35. Mike says:

    The whole Washington, D.C., area has succumbed to the transference of everything they can transfer. However, this calendar lists a number of celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass on Ascension Thursday in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

  36. JamesM says:

    The good thing about these feasts being transferred is that it is permissible to celebrate Mass in the EF on those dates. We normally have either a Missa cantata on these feasts. Tomorrow we are actually going to have a High Mass. This is only possible because two other priests from the diocese are free to come along as they are not celebrating the Ascension until Sunday.

    One thing I always notice is that our Masses on feast days which have been moved, is the attendance is very high. Only a small minority come because they love the EF – the majority come because they want Mass on the feast day!

  37. idelsan says:

    It is good to read this post, it will give us something to ponder. At least until the not to far away “Fr. Z’s annual rant about Corpus Christi”. :)

  38. idelsan says:

    There is an old saying in spanish : “Tres jueves al año relucen más que el Sol: Jueves Santo ,Corpus Christi y Día de la Ascensión”. There are 3 thursdays brighter than the sun, Holy Thursday, Corpus Christi and the Ascension.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  39. asperges says:

    (England and Wales) EF Mass tomorrow in many locations, but most EF and all OF Masses on Sunday will also be that of the Ascension. Fortunately, since I shall attend the Dominican form tomorrow, and Roman on Sunday, there are some liturgical variants.

    What I object to most is that the liturgical calendar becomes even less attached to any sense of reality: Christ goes up to heaven on the 40th day, but we have to wait until the 43rd. So why not move Christmas, so inconveniently falling on a weekday most years? And how annoying to have Easter on different dates each year.

    Religion is ‘just for Sundays’ in our busy age, but don’t expect any effort on any other day. I was genuinely shocked when I was told that many Catholics were simply ignoring holydays of obligation. This is the real reason that the easy way out has been chosen (or imposed).

    Interestingly clergy of all shades of opinion are still annoyed about this foolish imposition which was sprung on us a few years ago with no consultation: all objections ignored to date and no sign of any revision. We will never become holy by endless short cuts and the easy life.

  40. Paliakas1 says:

    Sadly, even great churches like St. John Cantius in Chicago has fallen victim to this. The Cantian talk about Ascension being a movable feast and say even in their Tridentine Sunday masses the Ascension mass.

  41. Heather F says:

    I think they are always celebrated on Sunday in Canada. We only have two Holy Days of Obligation up here – Christmas and January 1.

  42. Uxixu says:

    I’ll be attending a TLM on Ascension Thursday. I’ll fulfil my Sunday obligation at Ascension Thursday Sunday at my home NO parish.

  43. Pnkn says:

    My diocese seems to not be willing to take responsibility for transferring Ascension Thursday to Sunday. On the website, one reads:
    “At their November 1991 meeting, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided that whenever January 1, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, or August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, or November 1, the Feast of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is lifted. Also, the Ascension of Our Lord, which falls on a Thursday, has been transferred to the following Sunday. However, parishes are to continue to observe these holydays by scheduling one or more Masses at a convenient time so that people who wish to participate are able to do so.”
    One would think that a bishop might have the honesty to explain that >he< made the switch and why.
    Oh well.

  44. cpttom says:

    Rochester Diocese has Ascension Thursday on Thursday, and this was the practice under the previous bishop.

    An interesting note, the Amish folks I have doing some work will not be working tomorrow as the Ascension is a holy day for them. Around where I am, the Amish close their businesses for the day and they will gather as a family group, spending the day together and may have church, (the Amish I know they are having a wedding!), or go on a extended family outdoor outing. Either way it is a day of rest and “visiting.”

  45. Here in West Virginia, our situation is rather bleak. Our bishop is one of the many who has transferred the feast of the Ascension to the 7th Sunday of Easter. To top it off, the TLM situation in the diocese (we only have 1 diocese for the whole state) is not too good, with only a handful of priests here knowing how to say the older form of the Mass, so (unfortunately) an Extraordinary Form Mass for Ascension Thursday is near impossible for us.

  46. as usual in Canada, everything is moved to Sunday, including in our Archdiocese, but up at the Benedictine Abbey/Seminary here ( as most Monasteries i know) its Ascension Thursday ….on Thursday. PAX

  47. Justin_Kolodziej says:

    In a true case of Liturgy Science Theater 3000, for this reason the pastor at one church around here decided to read the Gospel for the 7th Sunday of Easter last week instead of the 6th Sunday for this very reason.

    I think I will go celebrate Ascension Thursday properly at the local Byzantine parish instead.

  48. trekkie4christ says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. However, this situation has left me in a bit of a pickle. Is it permitted, in a diocese that has transferred the feast to Sunday, to celebrate the feast on Thursday in the Ordinary Form? I suspect not, since this seems to be active defiance of the priest’s (arch)bishop. If one cannot celebrate the Ordinary form of the feast, and thus relegates himself to the Extraordinary Form alone for the Ascension, he must do so also for the 7th Sunday of Easter, which likely will rouse the rabble from their peaceful dormancy to combat the “raddy-traddy” pastor.

    P.S.: could we say Ascension Thursday celebrated in the Extraordinary Form is the best Throwback Thursday ever?

  49. tcreek says:

    I went to Mass this morning and the pastor did not even mention that it was the Feast of the Ascension.

  50. KM Edwards says:

    I also attended Holy Mass this morning in the Novus Ordo and, good and holy priest notwithstanding, no mention AT ALL that today is Ascension Thursday. Not even in his ad hoc homily, which is always extremely faithful to sound Catholic doctrine. Sad.

    Why is Ascension Thursday so momentous and so singular an event in the history of the human race? Quite simply, because prior to this day in the history of Man after Adam’s Sin and Fall, no human being (other than the God-Man Himself) had ever entered Heaven, that Blessed abode where alone souls can experience the Beatific Vision of God.

    Ascension Thursday is the first day in Human History after The Fall that Man literally had the gates of heaven opened for Him.

    On this day, all those righteous souls – Patriarchs, Prophets, and Saints of the Old and New dispensation or covenant who had died prior to this day, were released from the Limbo of the Fathers (also known as “The Bosom of Abraham”, by Christ on the Cross to the Holy Thief who became Saint Dismas it was called “Paradise” and is also called also “Hell” in the Creed whereby it is stated that “Christ descended into Hell” before His Resurrection) by Christ Himself and triumphantly entered Heaven with Him.

    It is also the day that the believers on earth received the Great Commission – from which the word Missa, or Mass – is derived, to preach the Gospel to All Nations, baptizing them in the name of +The Father, +The Son and +The Holy Spirit.

    On Ascension Thursday, not Ascension Thursday Sunday!

    In the spirit of the the Great Commission, and the Missa, I hope to spread this bit of the Gospel through Fr Z’s grace (aka his blog) … here are some scriptural meditations on this Feast from Bishop George Hay of late 1700s Scotland in his book (a real gem) “The Sincere Christian Volume 1, Chapter 8 pages 86-88 – this book is available FREE on-line at ):

    Q. 16. Had none of the ancient saints gone to heaven at their death ?
    A. They had not; and this is expressly declared by Jesus Christ
    Himself, who, in His conversation with Nicodemus, says, ” No man hath
    ascended into heaven but He that descended from heaven, the Son of
    Man, who is in heaven,” John, 3:13.

    Q. 17. Are we not told in Scripture that Elijah was taken up to heaven
    when he left this world ?
    A. As all the places beneath us in the bowels of the earth go by the
    general name of Hell, so, in Scripture language, all the places above
    us go by the general name of Heaven. Hence St Paul tells us that he
    was ” taken up to the third heaven,” 2 Cor. 12:2 which shows that
    there are different places above that go by that name. Now the most
    noble of all these is that glorious heaven where God shows Himself in
    all His majesty and beauty to the blessed ; for the Scripture tells us
    that Christ, at His ascension, ” is set on the right hand of the
    throne of Majesty in the heavens,” Heb. 8:1; “at the right hand of
    God,” Rom. 8:34. Of which throne He Himself says, ” To him that shall
    overcome I will give to sit with Me in My throne, as I also have
    overcome, and am set down with My Father in His throne,” Rev. 3:21.
    Before which throne St John “saw a great multitude, which no man could
    number, standing in the sight of the Lamb ; ” and adds, that “they are
    before the throne of God, and serve Him night and day in His temple,
    and that they shall no more hunger nor thirst, neither shall the sun
    fall on them, nor any heat ; for the Lamb, which is in the midst of
    the throne, shall rule them, and lead them to the living fountains of
    water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” Rev. 7:15.
    Now that this heaven of heavens is above all other places that go by
    the name of heaven, St Paul assures us when he says that the place to
    which Christ ascended was “above all the heavens,” Eph. 4:10. When,
    therefore, our Saviour declares that ” no man hath ascended into
    heaven ” before Him, He means the highest heaven, where God is seen
    and enjoyed by the blessed ; where He Himself, as man, always was, in
    this sense, that He always enjoyed the Beatific Vision, by reason of
    His union with the Divine nature; but Elijah, and also Enos, were only
    taken up to some of the lower heavens, where they shall remain till
    the last days, when they shall come again and be put to death by
    antichrist, but where they do not enjoy the Vision of God.

    Q. 18. Why had no man gone to that heaven where God is seen and
    enjoyed, before Christ?
    A. Because the gates of heaven were shut to man by Adam’s sin, and
    could not be opened to us till the price of our redemption should be
    paid, which was the Blood of Jesus shed upon the Cross.

  51. msokeefe says:

    Why don’t the Novus Ordo parishes switch Christmas Day to July 5, to extend the 4th of July weekend? Someone mentioned the Diocese of Metuchen NJ, where I live. UUUUgggghhhh. That Bishop has created LGBT counseling in a state where it is illegal to talk people out of being homosexual in counseling sessions. I wouldn’t be so boastful that they still have Ascension Thursday, on Thursday. Metuchen is like a protestant Diocese.

  52. I am cloudowl says:

    Is it permissible, under Summorum Pontificum to celebrate Ascension Thursday on the transferred Sunday using the 1962 Missal?
    (This will, incidentally, be my second Mass and first High Mass as an altar boy).

  53. cdnpriest says:

    I dread the day when our beloved Canadian bishops will decide to transfer Good Friday “to the closest Sunday”, because “it’s too much to ask Catholics to go to Mass on a weekday.”

  54. Gaz says:

    I suggest a compromise. Mass on Thursday is the Mass of the Ascension. Mass on Sunday is the Mass of the Sunday with a commemoration of the Ascension (learning from the EF). [How about learning from the EF and using that Mass of Sunday after Ascension?] The relevant authority can decide whether or not the Thursday is a day of Holy obligation and may decide if readings of the Ascension replace those proper to the Sunday if pressing pastoral factors indicate.

  55. Pingback: Why Some Saints Called Doctors of the Church -

  56. Pnkn says:

    I’m baffled that in Italy and in the Vatican Ascension Thursday seems to celebrated on the following Sunday. Yet there was not a published “morning homily” from the pope on that Thursday. I would have thought that the Vatican would properly observe the holiday, even while conceding that the bishops could move the celebration.

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