Today is the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. Or is it? Well, if you are in the archdioceses of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, or Philadelphia today is Ascension Thursday, and a Holy Day of Obligation. But if you are elsewhere in the United States, then the Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated on Sunday, June 2nd.
Why the difference? Fr. James Kubicki, SJ stopped by Morning Air® today to discuss the Ascension, and explained why it is celebrated today in some places and on Sunday in others.
“The archbishop is the chief shepherd in his diocese,” Fr. Kubicki explained. “And it’s not one size fits all in all the dioceses. So some dioceses believe that by transferring the feast to Sunday, when all the faithful are obligated and it’s an easier part of their schedule to go to Mass on Sunday, that this gives greater emphasis to the Ascension. And others feel that traditionally the Ascension was on a Thursday, we should keep it on a Thursday, and making it a Holy Day of Obligation gives it greater attention.”
No matter when you celebrate the Ascension, it is a rich and glorious mystery that we should all spend time reflecting on. It is a paradox that Jesus ascends into heaven, yet tells His disciples, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” It is this mystery that we reflect on, and it is an opportunity to remember that Jesus never abandons us, and is continually with us in the sacraments.
Fr. Kubicki explained, “The Ascension is not about Jesus abandoning us, but blazing a trail for us to follow. And He stays connected to us through the sacraments. And so I want to use that image that Pope Francis gave us of a mountain climber who keeps us roped to himself. He has reached the summit and He is pulling us up after Him through this connection that we have in the sacraments.”
As Catholics we are followers of Christ, and following Christ means following the path that Jesus has laid for us in, both in our earthly life and in eternity.
“We want to keep our eyes on the prize, we want to keep our eyes on the goal,” Fr. Kubicki said. “If you have a GPS in your car or on your phone, it’s important to know your destination so you can plug it in and get the best route. Well, we’ve got the destination. Heaven is our goal in life. And Jesus has shown us the way, and the sacraments keep us connected with Him.”
“It’s important to have our goal in mind, but then not to be distracted. We have to go about the business of living our faith in our daily life in order to stay connected and follow the path that Jesus has given us.”
Listen to the full conversation with Fr. James Kubicki below: