A few years ago Anthony Ruff posted on the merits of transferring the feast of the Ascension from the traditional fortieth day after Easter to the following Sunday. While I can see the logic of transferring it to a Sunday (and also the practical issue that many parishes face of people simply not turning up on Thursday), I honestly prefer the symbolic sanctification of time by following the biblical chronology. Also, I am against the tendency to remove all holy days, transferring them to Sunday or simply eliminating the “obligation” to attend Mass.
Different Churches have marked different holy days from time immemorial, think of Egeria’s fourth century account of her visit to the Holy Land and the various liturgical commemorations that took place on weekdays.
I am in favor of different areas having different calendars and can see little advantage in having a single invariable liturgical ordo for the whole world. It is natural that different nations celebrate things in different ways and times. However, occasionally things don’t run perfectly.
I presently live in Ireland, but having spent most of my adult life in the US, I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ and I visit there most every year. This year I will be flying to the States on Friday. This means that on Thursday I will celebrate Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter here in ireland, while those living in the Archdiocese of Newark will celebrate Ascension Thursday. Then next Sunday, I will celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter in Newark, while in Ireland they are celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension.
I am not a particular fan of “private” Masses and am planning to take part in public liturgies in both places (although I will probably un-rubrically celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours for Ascension Thursday in Ireland on Thursday). So basically, I will simply miss the observance this year. On another occasion, I missed the Feast of the Epiphany (Ireland still celebrates it on January 6, while it is transferred to a Sunday in the US), but on that occasion, there was a group traveling with me. I used the option of celebrating an Epiphany-themed Mass from the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I also once traveled from Guam to Hawaii, going over the International Date Line. That meant living a Friday in Lent two days in a row, and being a true Irishman I have little taste for fish!
I am sure that I will survive the spiritual turmoil, but I would be interested to know whether other PrayTell readers have had similar experiences, or whether anyone has any good suggestions to promote a spiritual answer to the issue.