As a liturgical feast, the Solemnity of the Ascension is primarily the beginning of a nine-day novena in preparation for the Solemnity of Pentecost. (This is clearer in dioceses where Ascension remains on the Thursday of the sixth week of Easter.)
To observe a period of preparation and liminality is counter to our culture of immediacy. We like to have access on-demand, choices made quickly and effortlessly without much consequence. But the mandate of the Ascension leading us to the great sending out of Pentecost calls us to step back, contemplate, and listen intently, together: “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49).As people of the paschal mystery, can we trust in Christ—and in one another—enough to wait, listen, and then move slowly, deliberately together instead of acting on our own? Click To Tweet
When our world gets turned upside-down, we can react with our natural instincts to fight or flight. Those knee-jerk responses sometimes lead us to resist and save ourselves or recede into fear and paralysis. But the paschal mystery opens up another way for us: a communal contemplation of and trust in the slow work of the Spirit whom Jesus promised would be with us, always.
As people of the paschal mystery, can we trust in Christ—and in one another—enough to wait, listen, and then move slowly, deliberately together instead of acting on our own?
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: aaronnystrom from Getty Images.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
- Three liturgical tools
- More than just religious words
- Liturgy is bigger than us
- Opening our lives to the stranger
- The meaning of prayer