Acts 1:3-9 says that Our Lord ascended to the Father 40 days after the Sunday of the Resurrection, a Thursday. Hence, by the time you get this edition of Britain’s best Catholic weekly, Catholics should already have celebrated this important mystery, just as we have done since the 4th century. However, there was a well motivated (but really bad) idea to morph it into Ascension Thursday Sunday. That is manifestly suboptimal, but let’s work with it and have a look at the first Collect for the Mass in the Ordinary Form (which is the side of the Roman Rite in which the transfer takes place):
Fac nos, omnipotens Deus, sanctis exsultare gaudiis, et pia gratiarum actione laetari, quia Christi Filii tui ascensio est nostra provectio, et quo processit gloria capitis, eo spes vocatur et corporis.
The main source for this prayer is undoubtedly St Leo the Great’s (d 461) Sermon 73, 4: Quia igitur Christi ascensio, nostra provectio est, et quo praecessit gloria capitis, eo spes uocatur et corporis…
Current ICEL translation (2011): “Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope.”
Since our Collect is basically St Leo, let’s quote him some more. In Sermon 74, 3, preached on May 17, 445, he says:
[Our Catholic] faith, reinforced by the Ascension of the Lord and strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, has not been terrified by chains, by prison, by exile, by hunger, by fire, by the mangling of wild beasts, nor by sharp suffering from the cruelty of persecutors. Throughout the world, not only men but also women, not just immature boys but also tender virgins, have struggled on behalf of this faith even to the shedding of their blood. This faith has cast out demons, driven away sicknesses, and raised the dead.
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