Although the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven is not celebrated on the Thursday of the 6th week of Easter, the traditional day from previous calendars, in most cities here in the United States of America, it is still a holy day of obligation. Here in the United States, because of low Mass attendance on Ascension Thursday over recent years, in accordance with canon law, the bishops of the United States petitioned the Vatican to have it moved to the following Sunday – the Vatican approved.
The Solemnity is still celebrated on Thursday in the ecclesiastical cities/provinces of the United States of America. According to the Precepts of the Church, the lay faithful that live in these cities/provinces are obligated to attend Mass on Ascension Thursday. As I stated above, in the majority of the country it has been transferred to the following Sunday and it’s still a holy day of obligation because every Sunday is holy day of obligation. Deliberately missing Holy Mass on any Sunday, in accordance with the Precepts of the Church, is a mortal sin.
With this all being said, I found it fitting to briefly discuss what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on this important event in the life of Jesus Christ and what it means for Salvation history in general.
The Catechism teaches that…
CCC 665: Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
CCC 666: Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of the Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him for ever.
CCC 667: Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
CCC 680: Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.
CCC 681: On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history.
CCC 682: When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.
For a deeper and fuller understanding of the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven and His judging of the living and the dead, I would suggest reading CCC 659-664 and CCC 668-679.
Comments are always welcomed, however, if you want to take cheap shots at the bishops of the United States for the petition to the Vatican to move this Solemnity to the following Sunday, they will not approved. We may not agree on all the decisions the modern day apostles have chosen to do in recent years, but I will not allow them to be attacked on my blog. Just a heads up!
Personally, would I like to see Ascension Thursday reinstated as the day we celebrate Our Lord entering Heaven? Yes, I would, but I am not going to argue about it or complain about the bishops of the Catholic Church in my country. We pray and we wait.