By l'Abbé Bérenger Saunière, priest of Rennes-le-Château 1885-1909
Celebrate Sung Mass at 8.00 a.m., without Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, sermon or procession. Speak about the offering of the blessed bread and the various collections conducted in the Church, especially those for the Masses to be said for souls in Purgatory. Advice to parents about the behaviour and need for silence of their children in the House of God. At 6.30 p.m.: catechism.
The Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension 40 days after Easter Ascension and Assumption triumph of Jesus Christ.
This Feast was established by the Apostles and was always looked upon as one of the four principal Feasts. St. Augustine ranked it 3rd among apostolic feasts (which are, he says, the Passion of Our Lord, his Resurrection, his Ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Whit Sunday). Though celebrated in a very solemn way, it ranks below Easter, Pentecost and even Christmas. One does not fast on the Vigil of the Ascension because it is Eastertide, which is regarded as a time of joy and happiness.
The Paschal Candle is extinguished on that day to represent the return of Jesus Christ to His Father - This ceremony was prescribed by Pope Pius V and is practised throughout the Church.
The Paschal Candle represents Jesus Christ resurrected. It is extinguished at the end of the Gospel where these words are to be found: "Assumptus est in coelum", "And He was taken up into Heaven". The Paschal Candle is relit only on the day before Pentecost, for the solemn blessing of the baptismal fonts.
- To enter the spirit of this Feast we must think of Heaven, must excite within us a keen desire to attain that place by leading a Christian life and must make a resolution to strive throughout our life to meditate upon the place to which the Saviour went so as to prepare ourselves for it.
Historical note: sometimes the Ascension is called Quadragesima, because it is celebrated 40 days after Easter, and St Gregory of Nyssa calls it Episomene, i.e. a day of salvation.