Observances of Ascension Thursday Thursday not Ascension Thursday Sunday

On my planet, this coming Sunday is the 7th Sunday after Easter, Ascension Thursday having fallen on Thursday.

In most places – not all – Ascension Thursday has been transferred to Sunday.  The notion the bishops had was to expose more people to the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension.  That may indeed occur, but in my opinion the transfer may reinforce an impression that these great feasts, important for our Catholic identity, aren’t compelling enough to inspire the planning and sacrifices required to go to Mass during the week.

Meanwhile, the Ascension of Our Lord, one of the great mysteries of the life of Christ, has been celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter (i.e., a Thursday) since the 4th century.
Enough said.

What’s up where you are?

In Madison, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Throne at 7 PM at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI.  Extraordinary Form, of course!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. greg3064 says:

    Here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia we celebrate Ascension Thursday Thursday.

  2. David in T.O. says:

    In all of Canada, alas it is Ascension Thursday Sunday. However, here in Toronto, we will have two Read, one Sung and one Solemn EF Masses on Ascension Thursday, not Sunday.

    The whole matter could have been solved by it not being a “Holy Day of Obligation” but still having it celebrated on its day and then again on Sunday as an “External Solemnity” as in the EF calendar for Sacred Heart and Our Lady of the Rosary universally and in the U.S. (and be some use in Canada) of Corpus Christi.

  3. In some circumstances–for instance, in locales where the traditional faithful have no opportunity to attend a Mass of the Ascension on Ascension Thursday–it may be appropriate (according to the PCED, for instance) for an EF Mass of the Ascension to be celebrated (as an external solemnity) on the 6th Sunday after Easter.

    However, it literally makes no sense to speak of “transferring” the EF liturgical observation of the Ascension from its proper Thursday to the following Sunday. For the EF liturgy of the Ascension, including both the Divine Office and the Mass, remain on Ascension Thursday. So if the EF Mass of the Ascension is celebrated for the benefit of the faithful as an external solemnity on the following Sunday, then this Mass is repeated rather than “transferred”. In which case someone who has said the Divine Office of the Ascension (and perhaps also attended the Ascension Mass) on Thursday gets an Ascension bonus in the repeated celebration of its Mass on Sunday.

    This situation is similar (though not identical) to that of the upcoming feast of Corpus Christi. The EF divine office and Mass of Corpus Christi are celebrated on Thursday of the week after Trinity Sunday, but–according to the 2016 FSSP Ordo, for instance–a 1885 indult for the U.S. that remained in effect in 1962, allegedly requires that the EF Mass of Corpus Christi not only can be but must be repeated as an external solemnity on the following Sunday.

  4. akp1 says:

    Thankfully, so far, we still celebrate Ascension Thursday on Thursday in the Diocese of Gibraltar, Gibraltar. May it continue so.

  5. medievalIrish says:

    It is celebrated on Thursday in the Hartford Diocese in CT. Thank you, Archbishop Blair!

  6. Mary Jane says:

    Solemn High Mass at 7pm on Ascension Thursday at FSSP parish Mater Dei in Irving, TX. Singing Palestrina’s Missa Brevis (which is anything but :) as well as various polyphonic motets.

  7. Iacobus M says:

    In the Diocese of Portland, Maine, Ascension Thursday remains a Thursday, Deo gratias . . .

  8. alex.jordan97 says:

    My Church still celebrate the Ascension Day on Thusday because Indonesia observe this as public holiday. Thank God.

  9. Mike says:

    It’s Ascension Thursday Sunday around the nation’s capital, but that doesn’t keep several parishes in the DMV from doing the right thing. There are Thursday Masses scheduled from 7:00 am to 7:30 pm.

  10. Gregorius says:

    What Mike said, and it is encouraging to see some of those churches are “ordinary parishes” that would only offer the EF on occasion if at all. Many of those Masses will also be Solemn Masses as well. It will be the first such Mass for one parish in the south of the archdiocese.

  11. Charles E Flynn says:

    The page at http://www.calendar-12.com/day_of_obligation/2016 has the following text, which requires further investigation to determine just what it means:

    “Ascension is the Day of Obligation only in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia; the others have transferred this celebration to the following Sunday. ”

    The ecclesiastical province of Hartford turns out to include all of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The rest of New England is in the ecclesiastical province of Boston.

    I will be visiting another parish that happens to be close to my bus route home, as I often must on Ascension Thursday and December 8. My own parish has only a morning mass that is unlikely to finish in time for me to get my morning bus to work.

  12. Giuseppe says:

    Diocese of Scranton, PA – Ascension Thursday is on Thursday.
    Archdiocese of NY – Ascension Thursday is on Thursday.

    Say a prayer for the Serbian Orthodox of NYC whose cathedral St. Sava went up in flames on Sunday, the Orthodox Easter. No casualties.


    The Archdiocese of NY has many churches that are closed after parish consolidations. I wonder if one could be lender to or sold to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

  13. Skeinster says:

    Mary Jane-
    Will be attending the 12:10, as I don’t drive at night, but I’m sure it will be lovely and fitting, as is anything the choir does!

  14. JesusFreak84 says:

    The Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas is divided between Gregorian and Julian calendar, but AFAIK the entire Chicago Deanery is Gregorian, and we’re celebrating Ascension on Thursday, as an HDO. Sadly, work doesn’t allow me to attend. There’s parishes near work, yeah, but they’re all Ascension Sunday because that’s what the Latin See does.

  15. JimRB says:

    A seminarian friend of mine once traveled out west this week and then returned here to PA on a Friday. As a result, he entirely missed Ascension Thursday that year, it having been celebrated on Sunday in the western US and on Thursday (as appropriate) in the NE.

  16. jason789 says:

    South Africa has from this year transferred Ascension Thursday to the Sunday. Even the Assumption of Mary has been transferred to the Sunday.Now we only have one holy day of obligation left: Christmas.

  17. majuscule says:

    My archdiocese celebrates Ascension Thursday Sunday in the OF.

    However, in the two years previous to this I was also able to attend a priest’s private EF Ascension Thursday Mass on Thursday. Alas, this year because of scheduling there will be no Ascension Thursday Thursday for me unless I travel to one of several more distant churches where the EF is offered.

    I suppose I’m a bit of a curmudgeon. Whenever anyone is talking about the Mass we celebrate on this particular Sunday as the Ascension I always point out that it’s really Ascension Thursday Sunday.

  18. Kristin G says:

    I will happily be celebrating Ascension Thursday here in PA.

    Though, one year I did miss the Ascension altogether, in circumstances similar to what JimRB described–I was traveling on a road trip from the Midwest back to PA. I was in the Midwest on Ascension Thursday through dioceses that transfer it to Ascension Thursday Sunday, and by the time I got back to PA, Ascension Thursday had already passed. Alas!

  19. oldconvert says:

    Here in jolly old Blighty (England and Wales) our Bishops decided to transfer as many Holydays of Obligation to Sundays as they could, presumably as part of the ongoing plan to make us as undistinguishable from Protestants as they can. Rumours that they are attempting to do the same with Good Friday and Christmas Day have been denied.

    Though to be fair, it’s probably a response to the chronic shortage of priests, so that in some parishes it’s not possible to offer the traditional option of morning or evening Masses on a weekday.

    Just to confuse matters further there is a Vigil Mass on the Saturday preceding Ascension Thursday Sunday, so I can say I am going to Ascension Thursday Sunday Saturday!

  20. Manducat in the hat says:

    This Sunday in the old rite calendar would be the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, that’s what we’re celebrating at the parish which celebrates both the TLM and NO. The Feast of the Ascension will still be celebrated on Thursday. The rest of the diocese is moved to Sunday.

  21. francophile says:

    For years I wrote to an archbishop in the South (name withheld to protect the stupid) to revert Ascension back to Thursday. While it never happened, he always greeted me with the fact that they kept a file on me entitled, “Liturgical crazy”.

  22. Nathan says:

    An obscure question. Who, at least in the United States, has the authority to determine the placement of Ascension Thursday in the calendar? Given that it is currently on Thursday only in the northeastern U.S., and that there seem to be at least some diocesan bishops outside that region who might want to celebrate the OF on Ascension Thursday, is the call made by consensus of the bishops in an ecclesiastical province? By the metropolitan archbishop? IMO, it would be nice if a bishop, such as the Extraordinary Ordinary, could make the call for his own diocese.

    In Christ,

  23. Sword40 says:

    I have no idea what our Archdiocese is doing, but, our FSSP parish in Tacoma, WA. is doing an 8:00 am low Mass and a 7:00 pm sung High Mass for the Ascension.

  24. Liongules says:

    Here in the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee (Florida) it’s Ascension Thursday Sunday (which is also Mother’s Day!)

  25. Benedict Joseph says:

    It appears that for twenty centuries we had a greater awareness of all the mysteries of our Lord’s life, death, resurrection — and His Ascension. Now, that it is not on Ascension Thursday, there is less awareness.
    Down here in the great southwest we blow with the wind…

  26. Deo volente says:

    The “Premier See” has moved Ascension Thursday to Sunday (sadly, few Dioceses remain which observe the feast on it proper date). But, as Mike (upstream of this comment has observed), more than a few Parishes in DC/MD/VA are celebrating the feast on Thursday. Here is the list I have:
    TLMs in DC/MD/NoVA on May 5th


  27. ajf1984 says:

    Here in Cream City (Archdiocese of Milwaukee), we have “Ascension Thursday (Obs.)” on Sunday, 8 May. On this day, though, we will also have a splendid event honoring the Blessed Mother and Archbishop Listecki will be our celebrant (http://www.rosesforourlady.org/upcoming-events.html).

  28. Charivari Rob says:

    Thursday here in RCAB (Boston).

  29. Geoffrey says:

    It’s “Ascension Sunday” here in California, though I always personally observe it on Thursday via the Liturgy of the Hours.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    It’s “Ascension Sunday” here in California, though I always observe it on Thursday via the Liturgy of the Hours.

  31. Giuseppe says:

    I remember going to Munich one spring and was surprised that the markets were closed on Himmelfahrt. First, I laughed, as any non-German speaker does whenever you see a word ‘fahrt’. But it was also the first time in my life where I was in a place that did not transact business on a weekday because it was a holy day/holiday. I thought more about the Ascension that day than I would have otherwise. Went to 3 masses, because there was nothing else to do!

  32. cda_sister says:

    Unfortunately, in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the Feast of the Ascension has been transferred to Sunday. IMO this feast should most definitely be a Holy Day of Obligation outside of Sunday but don’t see it happening. So….I’ll go to Adoration Thursday evening.

  33. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I was struck by the ‘combination’ (so to call it) of The Ascension being celebrated on The Ascension (5 May) with the celebration of Corpus Christi not on Thursday, 26 May, but being transferred to Sunday, 29 May. But I note Francis Mershman says, in his 1908 article, “Feast of Corpus Christi”, in the old Catholic Encyclopedia, “In the United States and some other countries the solemnity is held on the Sunday after Trinity”, so perhaps in some places this has been customary for over a century.

  34. TMKent says:

    Here in the Diocese of Charlotte, to celebrate the solemn feast of the Ascension at St. Anne Church in Charlotte, The Carolina Catholic Chorale will sing the beautiful Mass in A of Antonio Caldara with orchestra in a new performing edition by Thomas F. Savoy. This might be one of the first performances of the Mass setting in centuries!

  35. Tominellay says:

    Ascension Thursday is Thursday in the Zadar Archdiocese; Masses here are always said reverently, but never in the EF.

  36. JesusFreak84 says:

    Interesting: just checked the May 1 bulletin for St. John Cantius in Chicago and both their OF and EF Ascension Masses are Wednesday night/Thursday o.o

  37. scotus says:

    In Scotland, Ascension Thursday ia a Holyday of Obligation.

  38. Nathan,

    The decision—to transfer or not—is made separately in and by each ecclesiastical province:


    “The decision of each Ecclesiastical Province to transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension is to be made by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the bishops of the respective Ecclesiastical Province.”

  39. Ruthenian eparchy, none of this ascension thursday sunday business, but thé troparia and kontokia of ascension will also be sung on Sunday too.

  40. Legisperitus says:

    A priest of my acquaintance once drily remarked, “Of course, now we all know that He actually stayed 43 days.”

  41. Giuseppe says:

    Well, we Christians know that a lot can happen in 3 days!

  42. Sliwka says:

    As David in TO stated, all of Canada is ATS. On an aside, I taught 1 year and had a few Mennonite students. They were all absent on Ascension as it is a major holiday in their communities.

    If only our bishops believed in us too.

  43. Packrraat says:

    Here in Front Royal, VA, it’s Ascension Thursday Sunday. However, I can GUARANTEE that the church will be PACKED on Thursday, the correct day.

  44. Binker67 says:

    Thank the Lord for PBXVI, SP and the Latin Mass Society.
    The only way of keeping Ascension Day on Ascension Day (this Thursday) in England and Wales is to attend the Holy Mysteries at an EF Mass.
    I fear that we will have to endure the current situation here until a previous Archbishop of Westminster and Prince of the Church goes to his reward.
    So much for witness and sacrifice with the New Evangelisation in England and Wales. Everything happens on a Sunday now. We’re just like the Anglicans. Whoops, I think the 1970’s English interpretation of Vat II has actually achieved something, yes, liturgical relativism!!!

  45. Father G says:

    In my diocese, I will be offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Ascension Thursday Thursday for the Traditional Mass Society. Then, I will offer a Spanish Mass in the Ordinary Form on Ascension Thursday Sunday.

  46. Philomena Mary says:

    Newman Parish, Melbourne, has a sung EF Mass at 7pm Thursday.

  47. Cincinnati Priest says:

    In Cincinnati, sadly, it’s Ascension Thursday Sunday.

    Among the many negative aspects of this unedifying move by our bishops in the OF is that the beautiful and powerful readings of the 7th Sunday of Easter are never proclaimed.

    Sure, you are allowed to try to move the readings around, transferring some of the readings from 7th Sunday to 6th Sudnay, but as a pastor I know that causes tremendous confusion among lectors, folks in the pews trying to follow along in their missalettes, etc.

    Would be far better simply to leave Ascension Thursday on Thursday.

    I am still waiting for our bishops to, as the Prodigal Son story says, “come to their senses.”

  48. leftycbd says:

    When my father was still alive, he would ask me the same question every year on Ascension Thursday. I can hear him now…”Why does Jesus stay three more days down with you [feast moved where I live] and not here with us?” [feast still on Thursday where he lived]

  49. Rob83 says:

    If only Chesterton would have known, he could have titled his book The Sunday that was Thursday. And it still would have made more sense than this idea of transferring one holy day so that it impedes another, rather than the usual process where a transfer occurs so that two important days are both celebrated (and no, the Seventh Sunday of Easter Monday wouldn’t be cutting it).

    It is happily Ascension Thursday Thursday here, which makes it the rare week that many parishes will have extra Masses on Wednesday (Vigil), Thursday (Ascension), and Friday (First Friday).

  50. Gerard Plourde says:

    In my Archdiocese we also have retained the Thursday celebration. I remember being told a long time ago that more than the current number (six in the U.S.) Holy Days of Obligation existed and were instituted by the Church to ensure that the laboring serfs would be given more time to rest from their heavy laboratory. How ironic in this time when we are increasingly tempted to distraction from God that the Church would think that in abandoning the feast’s traditional day she was somehow lightening the burden on the faithful.

  51. Gerard Plourde says:

    That should read “labors” not “laboratory”. Autocorrect strikes again.

  52. Filipino Catholic says:

    For as long as I could remember, Ascension has been celebrated on what should have been the 7th Sunday of Easter. Might write to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines about it but then the problem would be that Thursday is a working day around here, and traffic is murderous enough to make hearing Mass very difficult.

  53. jaykay says:

    Here in Ireland we’ve had Ascension Thursday Sunday since the mid-1990s, I think. The 7th Sunday of Easter has been completely erased as a result. Of course, the change has brought an increased awareness and appreciation of the Ascension to the faithful who now throng our Churches on that Sunday (sarc. off) :(

    Fr. Gabriel Burke commented wryly on it in his blog some years ago:

    “Today should be Ascension Thursday but thanks to the Irish Bishops, Jesus now ascended into Heaven 43 days after Easter. Why did their Lordships change this feast and Corpus Christi? Nobody knows. There was no movement in Ireland for the change, it just came out of the blue. The Bishops at the time tried to tell us it was after a long consultation process with clergy and laity. Nobody knows who represented the clergy or laity, where this process was supposed to have taken place and who did these clergy and laity consult. I suspect it was the Irish Bishops not wanting to look uncool; after all, the Bishops of the USA and GB had changed days, we better catch up?”

  54. Sri_Sriracha says:

    I live in the Diocese of Tucson which has transferred the feast to Sunday, but attend an extraordinary form parish in the Diocese of Phoenix that has not transferred the feast. As it works out, I will be celebrating the Ascension on both days, as my family and I will be visiting the in-laws in southern Arizona on Sunday and will stop for mass in Tucson on the way.

  55. Carolan says:

    In the Diocese of Syracuse it is on Thursday, but my church in Binghamton has made nothing of it. There is only the usual noon Mass (OF) with nothing else. When exactly are working folk supposed to attend ?

  56. anitanbill says:

    In the diocese of Norwich, CT we will be celebrating Assention Thursday on Thursday (the Cathedral of St. Patrick is an awesomely beautiful place to celebrate it)!

  57. andia says:

    Here in Diocese of Buffalo – we have Ascension Thursday on Thursday. I hope it never changes

  58. rdschreiner says:

    What are you supposed to do for the LOH if Ascension Thursday is moved to Sunday? There are no propers for Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter.

  59. rdschreiner, in that case the verse, readings, and responsories for Friday of the 6th week of Easter are used in the Office of Readings on Thursday. Then those for Saturday are used on Friday, and those for Sunday of the 7th week of Easter are used on Saturday. Thus these parts for Friday-Saturday-Sunday are transferred to Thursday-Friday-Sunday, with the Ascension filling the gap that is thereby left on Sunday.

  60. Imrahil says:

    The problem with these “transfers” is that, once introduced, the (e. g.) Italian legislators “got ideas” and cut Ascension off the list of public holidays. So, now, in St. Peter’s own country, Christ’s going to Heaven is no longer celebrated with a day off work. But there are some things which it would still be too outrageous to touch. Italians venerate their mothers, ’tis said, and her going to Heaven is a holiday still.

    But what to do?

    Well, forgive the impudence of a foreigner who only knows as natural how they do it at his home. But in a country specifically founded to make possible the exercise of (Christian) religion, the fifth- or even fourth-highest holiday common to all the denominations worth noticing should be turned into a, pardon the expression, public holiday with the same protection as has Christmas, or New Year, or Independence Day.

    And if that’s established, even the softest sort of Episcopal Conference won’t transfer the feast to the following Sunday.

    – Until such be achieved, the Episcopal Conference could at least establish a Holy Day of Obligation on the fourth Thursday of November, with a mandatory votice Mass pro gratiarum actione.

  61. Imrahil says:

    instead of “pardon the expression” read “insert expletive”.

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