Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Jun 4, 2023

Sunday, May 21, 2023

When is the Ascension celebrated?

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is traditionally celebrated on Ascension Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter.

However, many places in the world – including most of the dioceses in the United States – transfer the feast to the following Sunday.

Ascension Thursday is May 18, 2023, but most United States’ dioceses will celebrate the feast of the Ascension on Sunday, May 21.

What does Christ’s Ascension mean for us?

Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house,” to God’s life and happiness.

Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 661)

The Catechism further explains,
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it.
Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”

There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him.”

As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven.

Henceforth Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father: “By ‘the Father’s right hand’ we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate, and his flesh was glorified.”

Being seated at the Father’s right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah’s kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel’s vision concerning the Son of man:
“To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

After this event, the apostles became witnesses of the “kingdom [that] will have no end.” (cf. CCC 662-664).