It's Ascension Thursday. At least in some parts of the country; in others (as here in Minnesota) the Ascension is observed this coming Sunday. This whole Ascension Thursunday idea brings to mind Franksgiving, the pathetically hilarious period in American history when the actual date of Thanksgiving varied depending on whether you lived under a Republican or Democratic government.
But, more seriously, this can't help but confuse the faithful, and diminish the overall impact and meaning of the Ascension. Michael Lawrence over at the New Liturgical Movement summarizes it thustly:
Why then should we dare to move the date that the Ascension is celebrated, as though it were some kind of civic holiday? There are good intentions involved--the bishops, many opine, want to make more people aware of the feast, and that's fine in itself--but moving this feast treats, to a degree, the economy of salvation the same as the economy of man. We schedule the Ascension like the bankers on Wall Street schedule their office hours. One priest once told me that holydays were for a "different culture" than the one we have now. This is a copout. It is our job not to cave in to culture, but to help transform it, and to help fellow Christians transcend it in its current manifestation. Moreover, I suspect that in playing with the liturgical calendar like this, we confuse many good Catholics--far more than the ones we may reinvigorate with this change. Some even begin to think of the whole holyday setup as a mockery, and this is sad indeed. I fail to see the advantage in all of this. How can we ask people to put their faith first, and then start cutting corners?
Good point. Anyone care to disagree?