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Catholic Activity: Ascension Day, the Final Message from Jesus

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The author describes some old customs associated with Ascension Thursday, including a procession, and randomly opening the New Testament for a final message from Jesus.

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St. Luke tells us that Christ, after he had eaten a meal in the Cenacle, led the whole troop of apostles through the city on the last journey he would make upon earth, and ". . .when he had led them as far as Bethany he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and even as he blessed them he parted from them and was carried up into heaven." It is easy to understand why on Ascension day the priest led the people in solemn procession before Mass, that this last walk of Christ's might be remembered.

Since this procession has fallen into disuse, one could make a solitary visit to a church during the day. The apostles, of course, saw Christ going before them. But if we cannot, we have no less certainty that he is with us, closer than he was to any of the apostles on that first Ascension day. During that walk to the church we can do what the apostles did — praise and bless God and thank him for the holy Spirit whom he is going to send us.

A custom has survived in some parts of this country of opening the New Testament at random on this day, considering that in the page chosen there may be, as it were, some final message from Jesus as he makes his way back into heaven. Each one in turn opens the New Testament and reads the whole chapter he has lighted on, while the rest of the family or group help him to make that chapter practical for himself.

Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945

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