Upholding the Day of His Ascension

Ascension of Christ by Fra Angelica

I like to think of the Liturgical Year, like a system of arteries and veins – through which the Blood flows to each and every member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Liturgical Year makes real our Catholic Faith.

As we travel through the year, we experience anew the great Mysteries of our Faith, by means of the Temporal Cycle. Also, each day we connect to the Communion of Saints, through the Sanctoral Cycle – praying to each particular Saint on their Feast day.

Following the year in this way, we receive many graces, bringing ourselves directly in touch with the life of Our Lord and the Communion of His Saints, who are waiting to help us, waiting to receive our prayers.

In this way, we can see that the Liturgical Year lets flow the lifeblood of our faith.

Sadly, as it stands today, the Liturgical Year has become divided within the Church. There are now, in fact, two differing Liturgical years, according to whether one is following the new Mass in one’s local language or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin.

We therefore find that there are two different Feast days for many of our great Saints, such as Saint Dominic and Saint Francis de Sales.

This pains me deeply, as it ruptures the year, creating a deeper chasm between those who follow the Tradition established over centuries and those who adhere to the modern liturgy.

As someone whose heart is so deeply with the Tradition, but unable now to attend daily Mass in the Old Rite, I am very much affected by this split.

Today’s Feast is a good example of one that has a specific, profound meaning in its placement in the Liturgical Year – on a Thursday, forty days after the Resurrection.

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Yet, this glorious Feast is now often celebrated on the Sunday after Ascension Thursday. Luckily, my family and I are able to celebrate Ascension today on Thursday, in the Old Rite, or Extraordinary Form as it is now most appropriately called.

Let us now look at this great Feast and something of its meaning.

As it has been traditionally celebrated for nineteen centuries, the Feast, as we say, occurs forty days after the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The number forty is hardly unimportant. It suggests a cycle that is now complete.

It is of course not only the time of Our Lord’s post-Resurrection ministry on earth, it also recalls Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert and the Blessed Virgin Mary proceeding to the Temple for her Purification, forty days after the birth of Her Divine Son.

With this completion of the ministry of Christ’s work, He seals that which He has established, through the foundation of His Church on earth, with this glorious return to the Father.

He returns, having conquered death – rising in His Glorified Body.

He therefore returns to heaven bringing this unfathomable mystery and work, of the salvation of humanity, to the Father. He takes His rightful place, seated at the right hand of the Father.

All that he has accomplished for us – the mending of the chasm created by the act of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve – He has now literally carried in Body to heaven. We are therefore reunited through His Glorious Humanity, with the Father.

His work is, of course, not over. It will continue until He reappears at the end of time. Yet, this work – of Incarnation,  Death and Resurrection, followed by forty days of preaching and instruction which have laid the foundations for God’s Church on earth – is marked today by this Glorious Feast.

I often imagine that those who walked with Jesus on earth, who spoke with Him and followed His ways, must have been very sad on this day. As they witnessed Our Lord ascend into heaven, their hearts must have wept. Yet, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the early Church believed the Second Coming to be close at hand.

And here we are, more than two millennia later and we are still waiting! Yet we are sustained by our hope and our faith in all that Our Lord has given us – in all that He left us, before He ascended and in all that He has glorified for us. He made possible the glorification of our human bodies, through the conquering of death.

Herein lies our eternal hope.

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One response to “Upholding the Day of His Ascension”

  1. Patricia Ray Avatar
    Patricia Ray

    In my home town, there are no options or opportunity to attend a “Traditional Mass” ever. Would have to travel to Dallas, Texas to hopefully find a “Traditional Mass”. Thank You and God Bless.