Recovering the Meaning of the Ascension, by John M. Grondelski

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*Image: The Ascension of Christ by Hans Süss von Kulmbach, 1513 [The MET, New York]. Kulmbach emphasized Christ’s Ascension into heaven by depicting the Lord leaving the pictorial space.

By John M. Grondelski, The Catholic Thing, May 26, 2022

John Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views herein are his own.


John M. GrondelskiToday is really the Solemnity of the Ascension.  I know that the canonists have dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s to transfer the celebration in most of America to next Sunday. But Jesus ascended to Heaven on the fortieth day of Easter, not the forty-third.

By the time the American bishops got to tampering with (eh, “pastorally adapting”) the celebration of Ascension – ostensibly in the name of accompanying Catholics who would find the obligation to attend Mass on a Thursday burdensome – some hierarchs decided to draw a line on accommodating the Zeitgeist.  That’s why we have liturgy subordinate to geography (via canon law): it’s Ascension Thursday in Pennsylvania, but Ascension Sunday in Ohio. …