Ascension Thursday Update

Christus Resurréxit! Resurréxit Vere! Today Wednesday May 17 is the Vigil of the Ascension, and tomorrow May 18 is Ascension Thursday, one of the most important feast days in the Church’s history, when Our Blessed Lord ascended into Heaven, 40 days after Easter. 

Acts 1:8-11: But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. And whilst they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments; Who also said; Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, so shall he come as you have seen him going into heaven.

Today St. Ann will offer a 6pm Latin Mass to prepare for tomorrow’s great feast.

Ascension Thursday Latin Masses – Thursday May 18

Although not a holy day of obligation in our metropolitan archdiocese, Ascension Thursday May 18 is indeed celebrated in the Traditional Latin Mass calendar on its actual date (40th day of Easter) and it’s a wonderful gift to be able to attend Latin Mass this day. The following parishes have announced Traditional Latin Masses on Ascension Thursday:

  • 9:30am – St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country, Boone, NC (2 hours northwest of Charlotte)
  • 6:30pm – Our Lady of Grace, Greensboro, NC (1.5 hours north of Charlotte)
  • 6:30pm – Our Lady of the Lake, Chapin, SC (1.5 hours south of Charlotte)
  • 7pm – St. Ann
  • 7pm – St. Thomas Aquinas
  • 7pm – Prince of Peace, Taylors, SC (2 hours southwest of Charlotte)

Commentary and Customs of Ascension Thursday

Additionally, we share links to the commentary of the Ascension Mass Collect and the customs and traditions of Ascension Thursday:

Photos of the Ascension

We attach the photos of the actual site of the Ascension outside of Jerusalem (now held by the Muslims) and the impression made by Our Lord’s footprint in the rock as He ascended. This area of the Ascension was also protected from damage by God during the Roman siege of Jerusalem nearly 40 years later (e.g. from the heavy weight of the Roman chariots, troops, and war machines), as Dom Prosper Gueranger notes in one of his Ascensiontide updates.  

Ascension Thursday Reflection

We close with a reflection by Dom Prosper Gueranger about the importance of Ascension Thursday, and how nature reflects the joyous event with the beautiful flora of spring. This is taken from his book, The Liturgical Year (Vigil of the Ascension entry):

The disciples are all assembled in Jerusalem. They are grouped around the blessed Mother, in the cenacle, awaiting the hour when their divine Master is to appear to them for the last time. Recollected and silent, they are reflecting upon all the kindness and condescension He has been lavishing upon them during the last forty days; they are ruminating upon the instructions they have received from His sacred lips. They know Him so well now! They know in very deed that He came out from the Father.[2] As to what regards themselves, they have learned from Him what their mission is: they have to go, ignorant men as they are, and teach all nations;[3] but (Oh sad thought!) He is about to leave them; yet a little while, and they shall not see Him![4]

What a contrast between their sorrow and the smiling face of nature, which is decked out in her best, for she is going to celebrate the triumphant departure of her Creator! The earth is blooming with the freshness of her first-fruits, the meadows have put on their richest emerald, the air is perfumed with blossom and flower; and all this loveliness of spring is due to the bright sun that shines upon the earth to give her gladness and life, and is privileged to be, both by its kingly splendour and the successive phases of its influence upon our globe, the grand symbol of our Emmanuel’s passage through this world.

Let us go back in thought to the dismal days of the winter solstice. The sun looked then so pallid; his triumph over night was slow and short; he rose, and sank again, often without our seeing him; his light had a certain timid reserve about it, and his heat was, for weeks, too feeble to rescue nature from the grasp of frost. Such was our divine Sun of justice, when first He came on earth; His rays made but little way in the world’s thick gloom; He kept His splendour in, lest men should be dazzled by too sudden a change from darkness to light. Like the material sun, He gained upon the world by slow advances; and even so, His progress was shrouded by many a cloud. His sojourn in the land of Egypt, His hidden life at Nazareth, were long periods during which He was wholly lost sight of. But when the time came for Him to show Himself, His glory shone forth, with all its magnificence, upon Galilee and Judea; He spoke as one having power,[5] His works bore testimony to His being God,[6] and the people hailed Him with the cry of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

He was almost at the zenith of His glory, when suddenly came the eclipse of His Passion and Death. For some hours, His enemies flattered themselves that they had for ever put out His light. Vain hope! On the third day, our divine Sun triumphed over this final obstruction, and now stands in the firmament, pouring out His light upon all creation, but warning us that His course is run. For He can never descend; there is no setting for Him; and here finishes the comparison between Himself and the orb of day. It is from heaven itself that He, our beautiful Orient, is henceforth to enlighten and direct us, as Zachary foretold at the birth of the Baptist.[7] The royal prophet, too, thus exultingly sang of Him: ‘He hath rejoiced, as a giant, to run the way: His going out is from the highest heaven, and His circuit even to the summit thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from His heat.’[8]

This Ascension, which enthroned our Emmanuel as the eternal centre of light, was, by His own decree, to take place on one of the days of the month which men call May, and which clothes in its richest beauty the creation of this same God, who, when He had made it, was pleased with it, and found it very good.[9] Sweet month of May! Not gloomy and cold like December, which brought us the humble joys of Bethlehem; not lowering and clouded like March, when the Lamb was sacrificed on Calvary; but buoyant with sunshine, and flowers, and life, and truly worthy to be offered, each year, to Mary, the Mother of God, for it is the month of her Jesus’ triumph.