Thursday, May 01, 2008

Viri Galilaei

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who is to be taken up from you into heaven had to re-schedule his departure to the following Sunday in order to accomodate the busy schedules of the faithful. Now, get back to work.

(Acts 1:11, dynamic equivalent translation)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into Heaven forty days after He rose from the dead.

Then again...

In most provinces of the USA, and in entire countries throughout the world, the Feast has been moved to the following Sunday. We could just leave well enough alone, and transfer the obligation itself to the Sunday within the octave of the Feast, but the Western church got rid of many of its octaves in the mid-1950s, and a few more since then. You'd have to explain to people what an octave is, and that is such a pain. So unless you attend the Traditional Mass or an Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy today, in which case the aforementioned silliness does not apply, today will be remembered as just another Easter weekday.

But it doesn't matter, really. After all, most biblical scholars agree that Jesus ascended into Heaven forty-three days after He rose from the dead, not forty days as previously believed. The number of forty was arrived at by the end of the third century, to make it easier for Christians to count the days after Easter on their fingers and toes and double the total. But we're so much more sophisticated now, and we can use calculators to count that high, or have our Blackberries remind us.

Whether or not you believe all that, moving a Feast Day to a Sunday because we're all too damned lazy to go to Mass on a weekday (or a weeknight) makes about as much sense.

Break's over. Get back to work.

[Video clip and sheet music of Introit for the Feast of the Ascension provided courtesy of The New Liturgical Movement. Used without permission or shame.]


Dad29 said...

Actually, in the US, the Feast of Ascension WILL BE the Mass on Sunday--for the Extraordinary Rite, too--if the local Bishop has transferred that feast to Sunday for the Ordinary Rite.

So in MIlwaukee, we're going to use the Propers of Ascension twice in 4 days...

David L Alexander said...


Meanwhile, in both the Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Washington, numerous celebrations of the Traditional Mass throughout today, will commemorate the Feast of the Ascension. I'll be serving for one of them.

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