Tomorrow is Ascension Thursday. Although being one of the most important feasts on the liturgical calendar, the observance of this feast  in the archdiocese of Cincinnati has been transferred to this Sunday (although those following the 1962 Missal will continue to celebrate it tomorrow, albeit not  binding under pain of mortal sin).   The  ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha (the state of Nebraska) sadly are the only remaining areas in the US that continue to celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord on Thursday.

What a shame.  As a friend of mine used to say, only in the Catholic Church could Ascension Thursday be on a Sunday.  Don’t be mistaken, the day remains a holy day of obligation in the Church.  The Vatican merely granted a dispensation to allow the US bishops to make this transfer in 1969, and since that time, each ecclesiastical providence has decided for themselves as to celebrate it on Thursday or Sunday.

So, I ask… what harm would be done by restoring the celebration of Ascension Thursday to, well, Thursday?  For what good reason could possibly still exist to not celebrate this feast on its proper day?  About.com even states the reason was “…because attendance at Ascension Thursday Masses had been falling for years, the bishops of the United States… petitioned the Vatican to allow the celebration to be transferred to the following Sunday.”  Attendance has been falling at all masses.  This reasoning can’t possibly still be justified, and even if it could be justified, is it not excusing the mortal sin of rampant skipping of mass on a day of obligation?

In 2012, what good reason could still exist to continue this practice?  And was there ever a good reason to transfer this feast?  I’ve seen often repeated that as far as a reason for why these days are transferred, the common reason given is that many more Catholics will celebrate this important feast if it is moved from a weekday to Sunday.  They say this reason is “pastoral.”  Rubbish.  I think it is scandalous.  It would be “pastoral” to celebrate this feast on Thursday, not Sunday.

I’m sure I’m not alone.  The faithful want it, and long for it.  Why is it OK for Catholics in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, etc but not Cincinnati?  What message would it send about our beliefs in this ecclesiastical providence (which covers all of Ohio) regarding Our Lord’s Ascension?  All I want to know is, why not?

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