The meaning of the celebration
+ In keeping with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, many countries and dioceses throughout the world celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
+ This feast was first celebrated in the fourth century and soon spread to other countries. While this celebration was, for a time, regarded as the end of the Easter Season, the Church has since returned to the more ancient custom of celebrating Easter for the full and more traditional fifty days, with the Solemnity of Pentecost marking the end of the Easter Season.
+ The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord presents three mysteries for our reflection: 1) the Lord’s return to the Father, 2) the Lord’s abiding presence in the community of believers, and 3) the promise of the Holy Spirit.
+ The collect for this celebration (the prayer below) sees the Ascension as the exaltation of the human race, as well as Christ; by the grace of God, we, too, “rise up the heavenly realms” (see the Prayer Over the Gifts).
For prayer and reflection
“Jesus frees himself from the limits of space and time to become present to the people of every time and place, and to offer everyone the gift of salvation.”—Pope Saint John Paul II, Homily of May 23, 1998
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here