Thursday, 13 May 2010

Feast of the Ascension

Today is, in the 1962 calendar at least, the feast of the Ascension.  It's one of those feasts which one would think could hardly be transferred to the Sunday, given its scriptural basis in terms of 40 days after Easter, nine days before Pentecost.  And of course the Novena to the Holy Ghost starting tomorrow is the oldest of all novenas, the very origin of the idea of nine consecutive days of prayer.

Yet our bishops have, in years past, chosen to transfer it nonetheless in the Ordinary Form calendar (aren't the Oceania bishops meeting at the moment?  What a wonderful decision thing it would be if they were to announce the restoration of the feast to its proper date for next year onwards!).

It is also, this year, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the Pope is currently in Portugal and will celebrate Mass at the shrine today.

The Ascension is a very important feast indeed, reminding us above all of the Church's mission to go out into the world and convert all men - the angels after all query the disciples as to why they are continuing to gaze up into heaven, pointing out that we must now look to Our Lord's Second Coming, and implicitly to the action we must undertake under the guidance of the Holy Ghost before that can occur.  And in the readings of the Office and Mass for today, the events as chronicled by Acts 1 (1-14) are put into the context of the missionary injunction, by Mark 16:14-20.  

But the Feast also points to the necessity of contemplation and prayer to support this mission, as the disciples retreated to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, and waited for the coming of the Holy Ghost.

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