Not the Vigil

16 May 2012

Tomorrow is forty days since Easter, the Solemnity of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into heaven in what has to be one of the great comic scenes in the Bible:

[A]s they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

(Acts: 1 9-11)

Can you just imagine the Apostles standing and staring into the sky? And the angels bringing them back to earth? Or is it just me?

As I said, the feast is tomorrow, making this the vigil. Of course, in most dioceses of the United States, we’ve moved the feast a couple of days so it falls on a Sunday. This strikes me as kind of lazy.

Father Z has a really good take on it in his annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday.

I have to say I agree with his conclusion,

I am no doubt under the the influence of having read so much St. Augustine. My present view of humanity suggests that when Holy Mother Church lowers expectations regarding the liturgy, people get the hint and lower their own personal expectations of themselves. They get the hint that the feast just isn’t that important. As a matter of fact, maybe none of this Catholic stuff, with all these rules, is that important.

It’s true – we send a message by how we behave, whether it’s what we say, how we move, or what we’re willing to make time for.

How can the mysteries of the Christian faith be important, when our behaviour in church is so chatty and casual?

How can the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist be important when we can’t be bothered to even genuflect before the tabernacle?

How can Sacred time be important, when we can arbitrarily move holy days all over the calendar?

Some things to think about.

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Theirs was a religion spacious, broad, lofty, deep, and, at the same time, humbly rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation and in the homely economy of the sacraments.

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on the 12th Century Monastic reformers)

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament …

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Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

(G.K. Chesterton)

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(Servant of God Dorothy Day, Obl.O.S.B.)

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