torsdag 17 maj 2007

The Feast of the Ascension


The Feast of the Ascension has, from time immemorial, fallen on a Thursday, nine days before Pentecost Sunday. The Anglican church celebrates it. In many continental countries, and not just Catholic ones, it is a public holiday.

It is often accompanied by traditional ceremonies. In Oxford, for instance, the Parish of St Michael's at the North Gate performs the ancient custom of 'Beating the Bounds' on Ascension Day. The clergy and members of the congregation perambulate the parish boundary, passing through and around various buildings, in order to 'mark' the boundary stones. On this day, the door between Brasenose College and Lincoln College is opened, and the procession ends with lunch in Hall at Lincoln College, accompanied by ivy beer. Afterwards, hot pennies are thrown to the children from the tower of Lincoln College into the front quadrangle.

Lincoln College Ascension Day ceremonies

In view of the religious and historical importance of this festival, it is astonishing that the Catholic bishops of England have decided to abolish the day and move it to the following Sunday, thereby destroying the scriptural connection. I get the impression that a lot of people are upset about this. There were as many people in my parish church this morning as there would normally have been on the day. Perhaps they were trying to say something. Sadly, our bishops are not going to listen.

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