Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascension Thursday

The liturgy geek in me is doing a little happy dance: After many, many years, I am at last able to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension on the 40th day of Easter. I remember bringing up with Cardinal
George the problems caused by moving Holy Days to Sunday. While telling me, quite bluntly, that the situation was not going to change, he agreed that the biggest negative aspect is that moving the feast to the nearest Sunday diminishes its importance in people's understanding. A feast that requires you interrupt your workday and go to Mass really makes an impression!

The usual depiction of the Ascension features a pair of feet
poking out of the clouds. I preferred to use an image that tells
the rest of the story. 
Anyway, here in the ecclesiastical province of Boston (that's an actual technical term), I'm enjoying not having the Easter season out of sync with itself.

What is impressing me the most this year about the Ascension of Our Lord is that from now on, the heavens are open to us. This probably couldn't be more important for us as we witness pivotal changes in Western civilization. People will follow whichever culture has formed their imagination. The words of T.S. Eliot (in "The Family Reunion") come to mind: "I feel happy for a moment, as if I had come home. It is quite irrational, but now I feel quite happy, as if happiness did not consist in getting what one wanted or in getting rid of what can't be got rid of but in a different vision. This is like an end."

The feast of the Ascension tells us that humanity is enthroned before the majesty of God (as in this detail of a fresco by Raphael). A victory has been won, and we can be part of it if we choose. The outcome is assured. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away."

From now on, we have a way of seeing things from the vantage point of how things work out. This is all over Paul: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" "Set your heart on things above, where Christ is... Your life is hidden now with Christ in God." Even the Lord's parting words in the Gospel of Matthew ("Go into the whole world...I am with you to the end of the age") are really saying, "You are with me, where I am."

Without the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, we cannot "live in a manner worthy of your calling"; thankfully, with the Pentecost novena beginning today, we are reminded of that, too!

1 comment:

Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve said...

Yes, I really like having the Ascension on Thursday. It keeps the symbolic meaning of 40 days, and then we can properly start the novena to the Holy Spirit on Friday. One year when I was on a trip I actually missed the Ascension altogether, because it wasn't celebrated on Thursday where I was. Then I went back to Boston on Friday, so it was already past there!