Everybody's Got One
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Ascension - or not?  

I have posted before on the folly of the American bishops' continuing campaign to reduce Catholicism to a Sunday-only affair, by transferring major feasts like Ascension or Corpus Christi to the nearest Sunday, lest anyone be burdened by a Holy Day of Obligation that falls during the work week. Today, only churches in the Northeast and in Nebraska are slated to adhere to the traditional schedule. Pitiful. It's not only self-defeating, it's actively self-defeatist. But then, we get the bishops we deserve.

For those who persist in practicing our faith every day, it gets more complicated. The schedule of masses changes, but other liturgies don't. Who do I pray the Hours with for the next four days: my local diocese, or the universal church? That's not as much of a no-brainer as it seems: the diocese is supposed to be the tangible embodied manifestation of the church invisible, and when they diverge, it causes dissonance in the great choir, whether heard on earth or not.

It gets worse when you realize that the local Anglicans - currently fracturing themselves over the sorts of bishops they're willing to ordain - do a better job of keeping the ecclesial calendar than we Romans do. So the mass not in communion is proper for the feastday, and the one in communion is not ...

Update: I'm not the only one who's confused. On the televised Passionist mass I watch, celebrated in a province with the traditional schedule, they said the opening prayer and first reading from the feast, but no second reading and the gospel of the weekday. EWTN, from a transferring province, sidestepped by saying the mass of the day's saint, Bernardine of Siena.

In these days it is especially important to celebrate the Ascension. Because it happened before the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, the Church was formed after Christ was no longer physically present on earth. The Christian Church can never be complete as an earthly kingdom; succession and rule are always contingent and guided from above.

That's one of the things that went wrong with Islam almost from the beginning.

posted by Kelly | 9:31 AM link