Ascension of the Lord
Easter ranks as the highest feast of the Church. There are four solemnities that rank right behind Easter: Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost. The Solemnity of the Ascension can be a holyday of obligation or a Sunday. In the United States the Solemnity of the Ascension is moved to the following Sunday.
At first glance, the Ascension would seem to be a sad day. Christ in his human body is leaving the world for the last time. But we need to take our cues from the liturgy. This is a joyful feast; it is the fulfillment of Christ’s salvific mission. The Ascension is the final leg of the Paschal Mystery: Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven (as mentioned in the Eucharist Prayer of the Mass). It is not until Jesus ascends and returns to His Father that His act of Redemption is completed. Our place in heaven is prepared at this feast and we will now share in Christ’s glory.
The Solemnity of the Ascension: The Feast Who Was Thursday.
We know from the Acts of the Apostles that, after the Resurrection, Jesus spent forty days instructing his followers: “To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Since Easter is always on a Sunday, and May always has thirty-one days, forty days later is always a Thursday. St Augustine, writing in the fifth century, indicates that it was the apostles themselves who began celebrating the feast of the Ascension. Whether celebrated on Thursday or the following Sunday, it is one of the feasts of the universal Church, celebrated everywhere in the world, and is a holy day of obligation.
No matter whether the Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated on Thursday or Sunday, it is still keeping with the liturgy of the Church to observe the Ascension on Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter.
On Ascension Thursday we begin the nine days of waiting and preparing, together with the Apostles and Mary, for the coming of the Holy Spirit. These are the days when families should discuss the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" and the "Fruits of the Holy Spirit" evening after evening. Praying a Novena (Nine days of Prayer) to the Holy Spirit is a beautiful way to discuss the Holy Spirit and His gifts!
Today begin praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for Pentecost.
To pray the Novena, click HERE!
Resources from: Catholic Culture; The Catholic All Year; Pray More Novenas