England and Wales to celebrate Ascension THURSDAY and Twelfth Night!

I saw at the site of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, that Epiphany and Ascension Thursday, are to be celebrated on their proper days!


Although, they waffled a little with Epiphany.

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No more Ascension Thursday Sunday in England.

As I wrote in my column the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald:

In some places the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord (it was a Thursday), has been transferred to Sunday, which makes it “Ascension Thursday Sunday”. The dislocation of such an important and ancient feast falls into the category of “Really Bad Idea”. The celebration of Ascension on Thursday is rooted in Scripture. It reflects the ancient practice of both the Eastern and Western Churches. Nine days, not six, intervened between the Lord’s physical ascent and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

And also:

Speaking of blessings, we have lovely seasonal blessings in our Latin Church to confer at Epiphany. Keep in mind that real Epiphany remains on 6 January. Various bishops conferences have determined that you apparently have enough to do in your lives during the week and, hence, you shouldn’t have to rearrange anything quotidian to allow time to participate at Holy Mass. Ergo, they transfer your Epiphany obligation to Sunday, which is already a day of obligation. But I digress.

Fr. Z kudos to the Bishops and to the CDW.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. AidWater says:

    This has being suggested for a number of years, but I gave up hope of it ever happening. Now we need to get Corpus Christi returned to it’s rightful Thursday place.

  2. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    The Epiphany’s being transferred to the Sunday when it falls on a Saturday or Monday is how it was in England before the recent changes. That’s what they do with all holy days of obligation that aren’t on a fixed day of the week – except, oddly enough, Christmas.

    I recall one Sunday June 28 – I think, 1991. At the parish where we then lived the fourth Sunday in the month was church parade for the scouts etc. So there were more children than usual at mass. The priest preached down to them in that patronising way that well-meaning but misguided adults often have. He explained why it was that we were celebrating Ss. Peter & Paul, and said (I paraphrase, but not unfairly) “aren’t you lucky you don’t have to go to mass again tomorrow!”

    He meant well. He worked hard and died rather young. Pray for him.

    Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Conner died today. Pray for him, too.

  3. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    It does indeed seem odd that Corpus Christi is not also being reinstated.

  4. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Are things, generally, “worse” in England?

    Do we have this sort of concession toward Tradition to look forward to when things get “worse” here in another generation or so?

  5. acardnal says:

    AND they returned to the discipline of Friday abstinence a few years ago, too! What’s next . . . Traditional Latin Mass in every parish?

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  7. oldconvert says:

    Perhaps, just perhaps, we are seeing at last the end of the deliberate de-Catholicizing of the Church in England and Wales that has been going on for three decades and more. We have had our own “Stripping of the Altars” as thoroughgoing as anything Cromwell (both of them) envisaged; it is chilling to read reminiscences of the “reordering” which went on in the 70s and 80s and compare (not contrast) it to the records of the goings-on in the 1500s. Statues smashed, altar rails and rood screens broken up, high altars ripped out, wall-paintings obliterated by bargain-basement coats of magnolia or cream emulsion, Latin and chant banished, confessionals turned into lumber rooms. New churches built that have all the quiet charm and reverential atmosphere of a bus shelter. The reassignment of the Holydays to Sundays was just part of it – whether all those trendy bishops, eager laypeople and nuns in mufti celebrating their first taste of power realised it – the obliteration of the Catholic Church’s identity. It’s got to be just like everything else. In which case, why bother? If a church is just like the local community hall or supermarket, with much the same opening hours, why go there on fixed times to be told unpalatable truths by a man in a polyester frock (who does he think he is? We’re all equal nowadays!). To be charitable, they thought they were bringing religion and the church into everyday life, whereas (law of unintended consequences) what they did was to bring everyday life into the church and sideline or push out religion and the mystical.

  8. leftycbd says:

    My parents lived in Southern NJ, where they still celebrated the Ascension on Thursday. Here in Virginia, we have moved it to the next Sunday. Dad would often say to me during that week each year, “How come Jesus gets to hang out with you an extra three days every year?” God Rest his soul.

  9. iPadre says:

    Bravo! A good move in the right direction.

    Thank God our province is one of the few holdouts on keeping Ascension Thursday on it’s proper day.

  10. Joseph Mendes says:

    Now all that’s left to restore is Corpus Christi, St. Joseph, the Immaculate Conception, and the Circumcision.

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  12. Imrahil says:

    Now all that’s left to restore is Corpus Christi, St. Joseph, the Immaculate Conception, and the Circumcision.


    i) Corpus Christi: Of course Corpus Christi must be “restored”, and at once, if it is some place left uncelebrated, which I doubt it is. On the other hand, to have it as an external feast on the following Sunday (or under NO rules even as a translated feast on the Sunday), while I guess absent in an ideal world, is not at all as problematic as for Ascension or Epiphany. It is a devotional feast of something present all-year-round, after all.

    ii) The feast of St. Joseph does not suffer under unfitting translation as hitherto Ascension did. It being among the CIC’s obligatory feasts somewhat a lesser one, and with the fact that it is not a public no-work holiday in England (which originally is the idea of a holiday of obligation), it must well be weighed whether or not to demand it under sin.

    iii) Immaculate Conception: similar situation as with St. Joseph, although at least in the Feeling of the faithful populace it’s somewhat more important. Also, we might think of holding the feast on the Second Advent if applicable, as the EF does, and as the Italians asked for and received a dispensation to do at the last time this happened.

    iv) Yes. At once. It is actually unthinkable that a day is both in the CIC as a holiday of obligation and on the statutebooks as a public holiday but still there is a Dispensation from the Mass Obligation.

    And no, I am not at all an enemy of the tradition of St. Silvester late night partying. But I happen to have not forgotten that since the 1950s, Mass can be held in the evening, even in the evening of January 1 (and on January 1 certainly should be), and that since 1983, a Mass on the previous evening Counts for the obligation.

    I don’t think my standards are particularly severe here, but if people can’t get up at 4 p.m. if they must, for Mass at 6 p.m., then they have partied too hard.

    – Some other observations:

    1. I think the idea to waive Saturday/Monday obligations, and them precisely, should be totally abandoned. I don’t even know what it is supposed to imply, other than the “People shouldn’t be in Church too often” (and yes there may be an “in Church too often” practically and psychologically speaking, at least I guess so; but it is a long way away from a mere “once a day”). If People can be burdened with it on a Wednesday or on a Tuesday, they can be burdened with it on a Monday. As for Saturdays, given that it is regularly an off-work day, and given that many of the more or less pious go by Habit on Saturdays and Sundays even though not during the rest of the week (when they have to work), the idea would rather be to have Mass obligations only if certain feasts fall on Saturday (say, Immaculate Conception) rather than precisely not if they fall on Sunday.

    2. To accustom people to the idea that, yes, one can go to Church even on two days after each other, and in partial “repayment” for the dispensed feasts, one should at least consider making Easter Monday and St. Stephen into holidays of obligation, given that they are public holidays. (Is St. George a public holiday in England? That would be another candidate.)

    3. I think a new Category should be introduced of holidays where, despite not holy days of Obligation, there should be at least one Mass in the parish. The practical way to realize it would be that priests who have to applicate a Mass on Sundays and holidays by law also have to celebrate or to have celebrated a public Mass, and perhaps applicate it, on these days. St. Joseph, the Immaculate Conception, St. Peter and Paul would be obvious candidates; perhaps also other first-class feasts, feasts of the Apostles, Candlemas, Transfiguration, birth of our Lady, Exaltation of the Cross and the like.

    Most parish priests do that anyway (except the “application” part), of course, but at present you can always find your parishes with an entry in their mass-times bulletin: “Monday, December 8th; Immaculate Conception of Mary (HF): no Mass; 7 p.m. Advent Meditation with pastoral assistant Mrs. Whatshername”.

    4. I know this would be an entirely new thing, but what about it as a thought: what about a new kind of holiday, where Mass attendance is obligatory to some Catholics but not others, namely only for a) clergy and religious, b) old-age pensionists (of course unless incapacitated), c) those receiving social welfare due to unemployment?

  13. Imrahil says:

    correction to my “nr. 1”: Of course I meant “rather than precisely not if they fall on Saturday“, of course.

  14. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    “Is St George a public holiday in England?” I’m afraid not. In England we worship Mammon and our public holidays are dedicated to the god “Bank”. Even Whit Monday is no longer a holiday, although some foreign visitors are pleasantly surprised to learn that Good Friday is.

  15. Daniel W says:

    I am chuckling out loud (and will probably be chuckling inadvertently for sometime) at your mention of the god “Bank”.
    Interestingly, the Temple of Saturn doubles as the Roman Treasury, and the Bank of England ensured that its buildings had a temple feel about them.
    I hope you don’t mind me using that one!

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