Thursday, May 18, 2023

Don't let the day pass into obscurity. . .

The Ascension of our Lord is part of our confession and creed and yet, liturgically, it has largely dropped from the radar and piety of the church.  There are more people in church on Thanksgiving or an average Wednesday in Advent and Lent.  This is a scandal to the full meaning of the Easter season and our confession of Christ.  We cannot afford to let the Ascension of our Lord slip into obscurity.  There was a time when the people treasured this feast right up there with all the major feasts and showed this by voting with their feet to be present.  Now it would seem that Ascension has to compete with graduations, weddings, the end of the school year, and a month already busy with secular days (from Mother's Day to Memorial Day).  What is our witness if the day is confessed in the creed but forgotten at the altar and in the pew?

What can we do?

  1. Lay people can insist upon the restoration of this holy day where it has been dropped from the local liturgical calendar.
  2. Pastors can re-introduce this feast into the liturgical life of the parish whether or not many folks will actually attend  (try scheduling a baptism or confirmation for this evening to draw attention to it).
  3. Congregations that do not believe they can do this alone can band together for a circuit wide observance of the Ascension.
  4. The Church can begin teaching the importance of the Ascension both as feast and as fact -- for the sake of our witness and our catechesis.
  5. If the congregation and pastor will not schedule the service, the faithful can at least ask and expect the church to be open for prayer and this to be announced.  Perhaps the faithful can shame us into pious practice.

For my part, we will have two Ascension services -- one spoken liturgy with hymn at 11 am and one full sung liturgy with choir at 7 pm.  The Eucharist will be at both.  Let us not pass over the holy day to the Sunday that follows nor give in to the temptation that thinks it is too much work for too few people.  Now let us begin the work of restoring the Ascension of our Lord to the liturgical calendar of the parish and the piety of the people.  Let it begin! 



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