Ascension and Assumption Days
From Bishop Edward Risi OMI, Chairman: SACBC Christian Formation, Liturgy and Culture Desk – There is certainly a lot of merit in the view of Nicholas Mitchell (March 2) that maintaining the solemnities of the Ascension of the Lord and the Assumption of Mary on their traditional calendar days could affirm the place of holy days in a secular society.
In their submission to the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the bishops stated that it was their intention to encourage priests and laity to use the traditional days of the solemnities for celebrations in Catholic schools, institutions like hospitals and old age homes.
It follows a parish may celebrate the feast on the calendar day with the status of a memoria, without making it a solemn celebration which is reserved for the Sunday.
The decision to transfer the solemnities to a Sunday was taken on pastoral grounds in that the bishops weighed up the situation in Southern Africa where the majority of Catholics do not have the opportunity to celebrate liturgical feast days of such importance because of the work situation of many of them and the rural situation of most of the Southern African church.
The decision was also motivated on the grounds that giving most Catholics the opportunity to celebrate these solemnities on the same day witnesses to and brings about the unity of the Church.