Thursday, May 17, 2007

What is today?

As Jeff Miller points out, in much of the English-speaking world it's the Feast of the Rant that today is not Ascension Thursday. As he says:

Last year the Bishops of England and Wales joined the U.S. in moving the Ascension to Sunday so I welcome those who live their to commiserate with us. On the "Feast of the Rant that today is not Ascension Thursday" it is traditional for bloggers in these countries to gripe about the movement of this feast especially newer bloggers who have not yet posted on this subject.

(I think, though I'm not sure, that it's also moved in Australia and New Zealand. It's definitely moved in Canada.)

Of course, not all Catholics suffer with this. Even though we live in Canada, since we attend a Ukrainian-rite church, we get to observe Ascension Thursday on . . . Ascension Thursday. I'll try not to rub it in, though.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

5/17/2007 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Meg, I hope that the perky papist is feeling perky these days.

I've gotten a chuckle out of watching some Catholic friends rant about this subject. I always have a desire to reach for the popcorn.

I'm very glad that the Catholic Church still designates a specific period to reflect on the Ascension.

Joseph Campbell once slyly pointed out that if Jesus had ascended up into space, He still would not be out of the solar system, travelling at the speed of light.

And I think that the Ascension offers an opportunity to suggest that there are more sophisticated and transcendental ways of looking at it than that Jesus levitated, rocketed past the sun at the speed of light and is still heading for Heaven.

I have a couple of theological dictionaries around here, and only the "Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy" by Geddes MacGregor extrapolating from Ephesians 4:8-10 says, "The reference suggests to modern readers the entry into another entry of being: a dimension far above the heavens," and one which is able to "fill all things."

Well, at least MacGregor talks of something besides Jesus and ballistic trajectory. However, I find the idea of "another dimension" a little heavy-handed and a rather crude way of trying to come to grips with this amazing mystical possibility.

On the one hand, we have the idea of what "ascension" means, and on the other hand we have the idea of Jesus physically involved in the Ascension. I would suggest ascension in the reference is the direction of spiritual elevation, a transendental movement to a celestial or divine perspective, no longer bound by the limitations of the temporal world.

And the second is this really amazing idea about what some refer to as the "resurrection body" -- I mean, when we die, it's ashes to ashes and dust to dust, and the soul moves on.

Jesus apparently was able to (I'm at a loss for words here) have such a spiritualized and celestial physical presence that His entire beingness disappeared from temporal apprenhension into a condition of Divine Nature so rarified that we simply do not have a capacity to fathom it.

So anyhoo, this Ascension business gets us tripped up with Atheists and materialists because if you look at the idea naively, it is simple to characterize the entire event.

Although the Ascension is not in it, I recently got hold of a good book by Paul E. Dinter (he's a former priest who was a Catholic chaplain at Columbia University for 15 years) called Beyond Naive Belief: The Bible and Adult Catholic Faith. It takes on a lot of these naive points of view and demonstrates that there is a lot more profound way of looking at the issue.

Incidentally, I've thought over something you said a while back, and I now think I agree with you that Bush would have been wiser to put his library at Baylor.

--Greg in Dallas

5/20/2007 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just not right is it?! I do wish people would stop mucking aound with things just because it's 'fashionable'!

5/21/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Canadi-anna said...

Many individual churches, my own included (Anglican), don't even mark the day unless it actually falls on the Sunday.

5/24/2007 10:56:00 AM  

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