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The Ascension of the Lord: Thursday or Sunday? It depends…

Published in the May 22, 2022 bulletin.

Forty days after the Resurrection, our Lord ascended into heaven. We celebrate this event on the Solemnity of the Ascension of which the traditional date is this coming Thursday, May 26. However, in 1999, most of the ecclesiastical provinces (noted by an archdiocese) in the country asked permission of the Holy See to transfer Ascension to the following Sunday. Why?

There has been a long debate about the reasoning, but it may be in part the lack of priests, especially in rural areas. A holyday in mid-week is difficult for him to travel to all his churches. Also, Mass attendance, especially out west, is much lower on weekday holydays than Sundays. In order that most people would be able to celebrate the Ascension, many provinces decided to transfer it to Sunday. We live in the Ecclesiastical Province of Cincinnati, which encompasses all the dioceses of Ohio. Our province transfers the feast to Sunday. The only provinces that continue to celebrate Ascension on Thursday are Boston, Hartford, New York, Omaha, and Philadelphia. Newark kept the traditional date through last year—its bishops voted earlier this year to move it to Sunday.

The Ascension of Our Lord | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva


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