So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ascension Thursday is on... Thursday!

We approach another occasion in the liturgical calendar when Ordinary Form Catholics must confront the unfortunate displacement of one of the Church's solemnities from its theologically significant day to another day, a Sunday.

The Novus Ordo permits major celebrations to be transferred to Sundays out of a misguided notion that by moving a Holy Day of Obligation, for example, to a Sunday, the accommodation makes it easier for more Catholics to be in attendance at Mass. Has this practice worked? Given the massive falling away from the Faith, it is safe to say that cultural accommodation has been a miserable failure in the marketing department.

The practice of transferring feasts and solemnities tends to subject God and the mysteries of salvation in Christ to the whims of mortals, as if God didn't know what he was doing by establishing certain events in a (theologically) significant temporal relationship to each other. If God (His will) is arbitrary, why bother to surrender one's life to such a whimsical god and prioritize one's schedule around that lesser god's works when me-myself-and-I becomes the North Pole to which each individual's moral and spiritual compass must point?

The Solemnity of the Ascension commemorates Jesus' return to heaven forty days after His Resurrection. Thus, Ascension Day falls on the 6th Thursday of Easter. The Lord chose a Sunday to rise; the Lord chose a Thursday to ascend. Loose play with history has become a trademark of a hermeneutic of discontinuity challenged by Pope Benedict XVI.

Caesarian Section

The transfer of Holy Days is merely a sign of capitulation to a culture that does not accommodate religious observations, or at least does not accommodate Christian religious obligations, very well. The net effect of "making it easier for more Catholics to observe Holy Days of Obligation" is that it makes it easy for Catholics to just say 'no' and be on about their mundane business. Making time for the Lord often requires being at odds with a culture that is hostile toward Christianity and indifferent to God. Keeping Ascension Day on a Thursday provokes Catholics to consider their priorities, to remind us to render unto God that (i.e., one's soul!) which is God's. Cleaving solemnities from their traditional locations leaves man prone to the god-state (Caesar). Requiring Catholics to be present at Mass helps form countercultural Catholics who are not easily cowed by the state and peer pressure. We need informed Catholics, not Catholics-in-name-only who have become "progressive" drones who go along (with the culture) to get along.

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