I promised last week to talk about the great upcoming solemnities of our liturgical year. We just finished celebrating the most important ones in Holy Week and Easter. Now we have another series of solemnities that we should really celebrate consciously and intentionally. The first one is the Ascension of Our Lord. Traditionally this occurs on the Thursday 10 days before Pentecost. Now we push it to the Sunday after the Thursday. Scripture tells us that 40 days after Our Lord Jesus resurrected he ascended body and soul into heaven. This is why there are no bodily remains of Jesus left in this world. He ascended into heaven to open its gates for us all and he did so bodily to emphasize the fact that our bodies will also resurrect on the last day and be united to our souls. As human beings we need our souls and bodies united to be perfectly happy in heaven.
The following Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, where we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. At this moment, the Apostles and the newly born Catholic Church now have everything necessary to lead all people to salvation: the fullness of the revelation of Jesus which will be written down later in the books of the New Testament and the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and each one of us. Some theologians say the Catholic Church was born on Pentecost, others that it was born the moment St. Longinus pierced the side of Jesus on the Cross and blood and water flowed out—that this marked the birth of the Church. Either way, on the day of Pentecost the Church was fully formed. Next week we’ll look at the Solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi.