THURSDAY, MAY 13: Both Eastern and Western Christians recognized Easter (or Pascha) on the same date this year, and today, both will honor the Ascension of Jesus. The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated 40 days after Easter (or on the nearest Sunday to the 40th day after Easter), as Acts of the Apostles states that Jesus was taken up in bodily form into heaven 40 days after his resurrection. (A full article is at Global Catholic Network. Plus, Wikipedia has more. And, there are resources at the Catholic Education Resource Center.)
The exact location of the Ascension is debated, although many Christians and Muslims believe that the Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem marks the spot. Some hold that Jesus’ footprints are imprinted on a stone in the chapel, which is located near a cave on the Mount of Olives. Since it’s recorded that the apostles descended from the Mount of Olives following the Ascension, many devotees believe this to be the location of the Ascension.
This feast was first observed just a few hundred years after Jesus’ life on earth. The Latin term associated with the Ascension, “ascensio,” indicates to Christians that Christ was raised up by His own powers. Yet despite its significance in the Church and lengthy history of observance, modern authors acknowledge that the feast receives little recognition in today’s Church. Perhaps as was pointed out by Barbara Brown Taylor in Christianity Today, “Who wants to mark the day that Jesus went out of this world, never to be seen again?” (You can read more about Barbara Brown Taylor in our latest ReadTheSpirit interview with her.)
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)