07 May 2010

Here It Comes: The Annual Semi-Holy Day of Non-Obligation Known as Ascension Sunday--er, Thursday

In six days, Catholics will again come to grips with the Great Ascension Thursday Switcheroo. Like Epiphany, the Feast of Our Lord's Ascension is transferred to the following Sunday (in most of the United States including local Dioceses). Unlike Epiphany, the Ascension is a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States. Therefore, there is often a cause for confusion for the faithful:
  • do we still have the obligation to assist at Mass on Thursday?
  • can the Feast of the Ascension be celebrated on Thursday?
  • does the traditional calendar still apply to the traditional Mass?
Well, I will try to help.

First, Sundays are always obligatory, so Ascension "Sunday" is of course a day of obligation. As lamentable and illogical as moving Ascension Thursday to Sunday remains, however, the decision of the Bishops' conference to do so does remove the obligation to assist at Mass on Thursday. So a Catholic does not sin by failing to assist at Mass on that day, regardless of the form of Mass one chooses.

On the other hand, in response to a dubium submitted by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales in 2008, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei clarified that the traditional Missal presupposes the traditional calendar. In other words, the Vatican confirms that it is perfectly legitimate that the Mass of Ascension Thursday actually be the Mass of Ascension Thursday. And further the PCED stated that it was "appropriate" that the Feast of the Ascension also be celebrated on the transferred Sunday.

The PCED's confirmation of the legitimacy of the nearly two millenia-old tradition of celebrating our Lord's Ascension on that Thursday does not surprise. What is noteworthy is that although the PCED finds it appropriate to also celebrate it on Sunday, it does not require it.

All of which I relate to clarify the situation for readers. That being said, why not go Thursday to a Church that celebrates the Feast on its proper day?

Oh, by the way, take a moment to complete the poll at the right of the page.

Relating to the PCED's response, my post from 2008:

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE LATIN MASS SOCIETY

For Immediate Release10 November 2008

* Traditional Mass Can be Celebrated on Traditional Feast Days, Says Rome

Transferred Holydays of Obligation: an Important Clarification From the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

[...]

...The reply from the Ecclesia Dei Commission confirms that the Mass and Office of Holy Days can continue to be said on the days prescribed in the calendar for the Extraordinary Form and that the right to use this calendar is intrinsic to the right to use the Extraordinary Form.

The LMS’s letter requested confirmation that:

I. the legitimate use of the liturgical books in use in 1962 decreed by the Sovereign Pontiff in Summorum Pontificum includes the right to the use of the calendar intrinsic to those liturgical books.

II. That, whilst in accordance with Canon 1246 the Episcopal Conference with the approbation of the Holy See legitimately transfers Holydays of Obligation or suppresses the obligation of Holydays, it is legitimate to celebrate the Mass and Office of those feasts on the days prescribed in the calendar of the liturgical books in use in 1962 with the clear understanding that, in accordance with the legitimate decision of the Episcopal Conference, there is no obligation to attend Mass on those days.

III. That, in accordance with nn. 356-361 of the Rubricae generales Missalis romani of 1962, it is appropriate to celebrate the external solemnity of Holy Days on the Sunday to which they have been transferred by the Episcopal Conference as has been customary in many other countries hitherto.

Ecclesia Dei’s reply stated:

“1. The legitimate use of the liturgical books in use in 1962 includes the right to the use of the calendar intrinsic to those liturgical books.

2. While in accordance with Canon 1246 §2 of the Code of Canon Law the Episcopal Conference can legitimately transfer Holydays of obligation with the approbation of the Holy See, it is also legitimate to celebrate the Mass and Office of those feasts on the days prescribed in the calendar of the liturgical books in use in 1962 with the clear understanding that, in accordance with the legitimate decision of the Episcopal Conference, there is no obligation to attend Mass on those days.

3. Thus, in accordance with nn. 356-361 of the Rubricae Generales Missalis Romani of 1962, it is appropriate to celebrate the external solemnity of Holy Days on the Sunday to which they have been transferred by the Episcopal Conference, as has been customary in many other countries hitherto.”

Ecclesia Dei’s reply is signed by its Vice-President, Mgr Camille Perl.
[...]

4 comments:

Long-Skirts said...

Timman said...

"In six days, Catholics will again come to grips with the Great Ascension Thursday Switcheroo"

...for the "good of the whole Church"?

(an oldie but goodie)

...AND THE PURSUIT

Ascension Thursday's Sunday.
Corpus Christi got the boot.
And this year since it's Saturday,
All Saints'Day will be moot.

'Cause Saturday's by Sunday
And Monday just won't scoot
And two days in a row for God
That's yielding too much fruit.

So if we play our cards right,
Let money trump all suits,
We'll end all militant Sundays
Obliging happy pursuits.

JMJ
Long-Skirts

Anonymous said...

Scotland will still keep the feast on Thursday. DEO GRATIAS.

Long-Skirts said...

Drove past a Lutheran church today with a sign reading..."Ascension Thursday services THURSDAY, May 13th at 7:00 pm"!!

It is to laugh!!

Happy Mother's Day to all!!

MY
MOTHER’S
FEET

Withered, wearied,
Ripped and torn,
My mother’s feet
Were rough and worn.

For they had carried
Future’s weight,
Engraved by God
Her pregnant plate.

No money for
The perfect fit –
So when in pain
She’d pray and sit

Until her purpled
Blood would race
Body, soul
Varicosed in grace.

And though so wearied,
Withered, torn,
Emeralds fade…
‘Fore feet so worn.

JMJ
Long-Skirts

Long-Skirts said...

Drove past a Lutheran church today which had a sign outside that read "Ascension Thursday Sevice, Thursday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m"

Thursday!!!

It is to laugh!

Happy Mother's Day!

MY
MOTHER’S
FEET

Withered, wearied,
Ripped and torn,
My mother’s feet
Were rough and worn.

For they had carried
Future’s weight,
Engraved by God
Her pregnant plate.

No money for
The perfect fit –
So when in pain
She’d pray and sit

Until her purpled
Blood would race
Body, soul
Varicosed in grace.

And though so wearied,
Withered, torn,
Emeralds fade…
‘Fore feet so worn.