Yesterday marked exactly 40 days since the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is known as the feast of the Ascension. Since Easter Sunday is always on a Sunday, then the great feast of the Ascension, is always on a Thursday.
Since Vatican II, however, many dioceses have transferred the feast of the Ascension to the following Sunday. I think this does a disservice, however, to the faithful for at least two reasons, if not more.
- The original Holy Spirit Novena becomes muddled at best and completely lost at worst. You see, prior to ascending into heaven, Christ commanded the disciples to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which they did for nine days. (From Friday to the Vigil of Pentecost.) After praying for nine days, the Holy Spirit did indeed come. We name this feast Pentecost as it comes exactly 50 days after the Resurrection. (Pentecost meaning 50.) Moving the Ascension to Sunday, corrupts the original plea to pray for nine days. (The word novena comes from the Latin word for nine.)
- The Pascal Candle, which symbolizes the Risen Christ, loses significance. On Ascension Thursday, after the Gospel reading, the Pascal candle is extinguished. Remember, the Pascal Candle symbolizes the Risen Christ. Therefore, it should not remain lit once Christ ascends into heaven, which again, happens on a Thursday. This “extinguishing” serves as a reminder to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. If the feast day is moved, however, the candle loses significance.
There are others who have written at length about these things. If you want more, Fr. Z wrote a short bit HERE on the absurdity of Ascension “Thursday Sunday.”
Photos For Fun
I snapped a few shots yesterday of the Ascension Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman. Note the Pascal Candle and remember to begin praying the Holy Spirit Novena today!
*The altar boys affectionately nicknamed our Pascal Candle “Terror of Demons,” after noting the prayer that “every evil device of Satan depart” at it’s blessing on Holy Saturday.