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Our readers asked:

What is the Ascension?

Mike Hayes Answers:

(From left:) Christ's ascent to heaven is depicted in a stained-glass window at 1) St. Clotilde Church in Chicago (Catholic News Service photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World); 2) St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y (Catholic News Service photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic); 3) St. Mary's Basilica in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Catholic News Service photo/Crosiers)

(From left:) Christ’s ascent to heaven is depicted in a stained-glass window at 1) St. Clotilde Church in Chicago (Catholic News Service photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World); 2) St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y (Catholic News Service photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic); 3) St. Mary’s Basilica in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Catholic News Service photo/Crosiers)

The Ascension refers to the day celebrated 40 days after Easter when Catholics celebrate the fact that Jesus returns to God after being with his disciples after the resurrection. It is a central element of our tradition and is included in the creed recited at mass each Sunday. It is also a Holy Day of Obligation and Catholics are required to go to mass on that day.

The scriptural basis for this comes from Acts 1:9-11.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

This is not meant to be taken as a literal passage in the sense of a “beam me up” kind of story. The Ascension signifies that Christ is no longer bound by the time and space that he was while he was in the fullness of his humanity. Jesus is Lord and that means that Lordship goes beyond mere humanity. Others may claim kingship but the only one who is Lord and King is Jesus. Most importantly, the day signifies that God can be experienced anywhere and not just in time and space.

 
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The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • James Pearn

    Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the Holy Day has been moved to Sunday at my parish. That has taken away some of the special significance of Ascension for me.

    • Jack B

      In 1999, St. John Paul II decreed, as stated in the Code of Canon Law, that the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days as days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with approval of the Apostolic See. That’s what happened in the United States with regard to the Feast of the Ascension.
      This is nothing new. In 1642, Pope Urban VII eliminated the days of Holy Week as days of obligation, and many other feasts as well. But these days still have special significance for faithful Catholics.

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