Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we enter the sixth week of the Easter season, we also draw closer to the season’s end. After the Resurrection, our Lord appeared to the disciples for forty days, helping them to understand the reality of the empty tomb, reminding them of everything He had taught them, and preparing them for their apostolic mission to proclaim the Gospel. Those forty days came to an end when He ascended into heaven, with the promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. And so it is that this Thursday, the fortieth day since Easter Sunday, we will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. Ascension Thursday marks the beginning of the novena of Pentecost, a unique period within the Easter season in which we prepare for the coming Holy Spirit.
Ascension Thursday captures important mysteries for us. We are reminded of the reality that, while we know Jesus is with us (“Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:20), He no longer walks among us as He did with the Apostles, for He has ascended to the Father. In the Incarnation, Jesus takes on our human flesh, is born into our human condition, unites His divinity to our frail humanity. In the Ascension, that same humanity assumed in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit is taken up into the unity of the Blessed Trinity. By Ascending in the body, Jesus opens the way for us to hope for eternal life in heaven as a reality that includes both body and soul. The Ascension reminds us of our eschatological hope – that is, our hope for what will be true when Jesus comes again in glory. In the Creed, we profess that we believe in the resurrection of the dead. We believe that this body will rise again. Our hope for salvation – to be in heaven after we die – includes also our hope to rise again and be united body and soul with God in heaven for all eternity. Just as in this world we seek to conform our lives to Christ, so we look forward to the day when, in the resurrection of the dead, we will conform perfectly to Christ who rose from the dead and ascended in the human body, into heaven.
Even as we look forward to that final, eschatological reality, we recognize that there is a time of waiting. And so the Church turns our attention to Pentecost, to the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that inspires the Apostles to go out proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, preaching Christ crucified, and baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In the novena interval between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, the Apostles pray intensely, gathered with the Blessed Mother. The Church now observes those days with the same sense of preparation, so that on Pentecost we might experience a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a renewal in our life of faith. In these days leading to the Ascension, let us look forward in hope to the day of resurrection, and ask the Lord’s grace to carry out our mission with courage.
Ascension Thursday is a holy day of obligation. Mass times in Fairfield are as follows:
Vigil Masses – Wednesday, May 25
- Pius X – 5:30 PM
- Our Lady of the Assumption Church – 5:30 PM
- Thomas Aquinas Church – 5 PM
Masses on Ascension Thursday, May 26
- Pius X – 8:30 AM, 5:30 PM, 7 PM (Traditional Latin Mass)
- Holy Family Church – 7:45 AM, 7 PM
- Emery Church – Noon
- Our Lady of the Assumption Church – 7:30 AM, 12:10 PM, 5:30 PM
- Holy Cross Church – 9 AM, 5:30 PM
- Thomas Aquinas Church – 7 AM, 12:10 PM, 5 PM