"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ascension Sunday

I hope you are jarred by that title: as most of you know, the feast the Church is now celebrating is traditionally "Ascension Thursday." It ought to be. But as is also well known, in this world there is a considerable difference between "ought" and "is." In this case, the difference is ironic indeed. For that reason, most American bishops don't get it.

They have have moved celebration of this feast from Thursday to the following Sunday in order to make it easier for people to celebrate it. But why, exactly, was it harder on Thursday? Driving to church for two services during certain weeks instead of one isn't terribly hard for people who assiduously drive kids to after-school activities, and themselves on errands, all week long. I know elderly church ladies who drive around almost as much as I do, and at work I spend most of my time driving. Weightier, however, is the problem of those with employers who won't give them the time to attend church on Thursday. My employer would not have let me out for a minute of the twelve-hour day I worked last Thursday, and many other people can't get a lunch break long enough to permit church attendance at midday. But should be the Church's response to that be to accommodate it? Doing so only reinforces it, and with it the idea that secular pursuits are more important than religious observances. It's just one more cave to the culture.

It's an ironic one because if this feast reminds us of anything, it is that our true home lies not in this world. Jesus told the Apostles that if he did not leave for heaven, the Spirit could not come. We are empowered to become what we are called to be only if the Author of Life does not remain visible as one of us but only through us. But the process of becoming what we are called to be is hampered when efforts are made to let us remain more like those who are of the world. We are "in the world, not of it." Given that the American bishops exempted themselves from the severe new rules they adopted for preventing and handling sexual abuse by Church representatives, it seems they still need reminding of that.
blog comments powered by Disqus