This important Solemnity marks the 40th day after Easter Sunday and commemorates Jesus Christ’s Ascension into heaven from Mount Olivet (Mount of Olives) near Jerusalem before the Apostles. The celebration of this feast is believed to have begun in the time of the Apostles, according to St. Augustine, though its exact origin is unknown.
In the Nicene Creed, we profess our belief in Jesus’ Ascension with the words: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” The Ascension is mentioned in the Gospels by both Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-53), with a more detailed account given by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (1:1-12).
The Ascension of Jesus reminds us we are still in the Easter season but that Pentecost (coming 50 days after the Resurrection and the birthday of the Church) is near. Both Solemnities stand as beautiful reminders of the Holy Spirit’s continual presence with us—God’s amazing gift to each of us. Jesus’ Ascension came as a symbol of hope and the glory of God to come not only for the Apostles but also for all of us, 2000-plus years later.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 18, the Church will celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord. In the Diocese of Fall River, “Ascension Thursday” is a Holy Day of Obligation; a day when the Church recognizes the spiritual significance of a particular solemnity or feast day and places an obligation on the day to attend Mass. I have often said we should look at these days as additional opportunities to receive the graces and blessings of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
This Saturday, at 11 a.m. in St. Mary’s Cathedral, I will ordain 15 men to the Permanent Diaconate and one man to the Transitional Diaconate for the Diocese of Fall River. The diaconate ordination will be in the context of Mass, following the Gospel. It will include the rites of Calling and Presentation of Candidates for Ordination.
After ordination, accomplished by the laying of the bishop’s hands on the head of each candidate and a prayer of consecration, a member of each of the ordinand’s family will bring his vestments to the altar. At the altar, the vestments will be handed to assisting priests or deacons, who will then vest the new deacons.
Tickets have been distributed for the event; open seating space will be limited. However, I am pleased to share that the Ordination to Diaconate will be livestreamed on our Diocesan Facebook page at facebook.com/fallriverdiocese.
I am grateful for the willingness of these men to say ‘yes’ to ministry and service in our Diocese. Please keep all of them and their families in your prayers.
Adult Confirmation Conferral
As many of you know, this is the confirmation season. I have been celebrating Confirmation for our young people almost every day during the easter season. Recently, I had the privilege of celebrating confirmation for a group of adults in our Cathedral. I truly enjoy celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, and I always remind our candidates of the importance of their Faith, of renewing their Baptismal promises, and of taking a new responsibility for the practice of their faith as they become fully initiated into the life of the Church.
If you or someone you know is considering receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, discuss the many options available in the Diocese with your pastor. The Secretariat of the New Evangelization will be offering its next preparation classes in the Fall.
Anchor Newspaper Update
The Anchor has been the official newspaper for the Diocese of Fall River, reporting on news, spiritual matters, and events related to the Catholic Church in Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the Islands since 1957. In April of this year, the newspaper moved to a monthly format; to learn more or read this month’s edition, visit: Anchornews.org. Home print delivery is still available—order or renew here.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha