Happy Ascension Thursday!

May 30, 2019

Initial V: The Ascension by Monaco, Strozzi & Sanguini (15th C). Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

A happy and most glorious feast of the Ascension of Our Lord! Today is a Holy Day of Obligation in some places, so be sure to check the regulations in your diocese. Even if there is no obligation, we encourage you to attend Mass if you can on this glorious feast day, which commemorates the day when Our Lord’s earthly mission came to an end and, giving His final commission to His Apostles, He returned to Heaven to take His place at the right hand of the Father.

Since Easter, the Paschal Candle, the symbol of the Risen Christ, has stood lit in the sanctuary during Mass and some other liturgical offices to symbolize His presence among us for forty days after His Resurrection. After the Gospel of today’s High Mass it is extinguished, since He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer visibly present on earth. It is removed after Mass to a place near the baptismal font.

Today’s Introit, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, recounts the words which the angels addressed to the Apostles who had just witnessed the Ascension. They admonish them to take up without delay the mission given to them by Christ:

Viri Galilǽi, quid admirámini aspiciéntes in cœlum? allelúia: quemádmodum vidístis eum ascendéntem in cœlum, ita véniet, allelúia, allelúia, allelúia.

Ye men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven? alleluia: He shall so come as you have seen Him going up into heaven, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.