For most Catholics the Feast of the Ascension goes unnoticed, yet this feast is the great entrance of humanity into the heavenly presence of God. It is the great celebration of the presence of Jesus Christ as Lord and God. This feast culminates the mission of Christ in the world and prepares us for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated ten days before Pentecost. It is also known as Ascension Thursday, but in the Western Churches it has been moved to the Sunday before Pentecost. The novena to the Holy Spirit begins after the celebration of the Ascension. After the Apostles witnessed the Ascension, they were so filled with joy and zeal for service in the kingdom of God that they started praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The Feast of the Ascension is known as the Apostolic Feast. This is because Jesus blessed the disciples as He ascended and left them with the mission of spreading the Good News and making the world a better place. They were left waiting in joyful hope for the second coming of the Saviour, but they did not wait passively; they actively promoted His reign on earth.
The Good News is that we are now reconciled to God through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The Ascension of Jesus into heaven is significant for all of us. The human and divine nature of Jesus allows us, as human beings, to enter the divinity of God. The entrance of Jesus, body and soul into heaven, is significant to us because it says to us that heaven is now open to us.
In the gathering of the Eucharist, Jesus is calling us to unity with Him and with others. By uniting ourselves with Jesus in the Eucharist and praying with Mary our Mother we can experience the blessings of Jesus on Ascension Day. To honour this blessing we must use our gifts and talents to serve our brothers and sisters.
If we truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He has created a pathway for us to God the Father, our true home, then we will honour the Feast of the Ascension and pray for the blessings that Jesus bestowed on the Apostles as He ascended. These blessings unite us with the Father, hence the reason He said, “Peace be with you.” We can enjoy peace knowing that Jesus will take us to the heart of the Father.
This feast directs our attention to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to pray to have a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we can truly be all that God has created us to be and promote His reign on earth.
Know your Faith
1) What great blessing did Jesus give the disciples as he ascended?
2) When is the Feast of the Ascension celebrated?
3) What is another name for the Feast of the Ascension and why?
4) Why is the Ascension a significant feast for us?
5) How should we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension?
1) He blessed them with Peace because they are now united with God if they believe in Him and live their life according to His teachings.
2) The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated forty days after Resurrection Sunday and one week before Pentecost. It is usually the beginning of the novena to the Holy Spirit. Since the feast has been changed from Thursday to Sunday, the feast is usually the second day of the novena.
3) Another name for the Feast of the Ascension is the ‘Apostolic Feast’ which means that we are called to promote the reign of God and share in the work of the Apostles as we wait in joyful hope for the second coming of Jesus.
4) The Ascension is a significant feast for us since it says to us that heaven’s gate is open to us. We can approach the throne of grace and once again enjoy communion with God.
5) We should attend Holy Mass in honour of the feast and pray to Jesus for the blessing he gave the Apostles. We should also make a commitment to Jesus to serve in some way by using our gifts and talents.
– Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office