But by God’s grace I was assigned Mass in the Extraordinary Form today, which retains the Ascension on Thursday, with its jubilant verses: “Viri Galilaei…O ye men of Galilee, why wonder you, staring into the sky? This Jesus will return just as he left you!... Clap your hands, ye nations; shout to God O ye peoples!” There is no replacement for Ascension Thursday. I have the day off, and am going to hike up a large hill with some dear friends today, in exultation. “Dominus ascéndens in altum captívam duxit captivitátem… The Lord ascending on high leads captivity captive!”
The Ascension marks 33 days from Easter Sunday, and yet we are still squarely within the paschal season. When I was a young priest, I used to grow tired of the Easter season after three or four weeks. I would get bored of praying nearly the same divine office for eight days in a row, and I would grow weary of adding Alleluias after every antiphon and response. I longed for “Ordinary Time,” just simple green with nothing too dramatic.
Now that I am older, and life is a bit less dramatic anyway, I am more grateful that the Church celebrates Easter for fifty days. I have come to savor the Easter verses like “The splendor of Christ risen from the dead shines on the people redeemed by his blood, alleluia.” I can’t seem to get enough of the paschal mystery these days. Perhaps I am perceiving at long last that all of life pulsates with paschal energy, and life depends on recognizing the fire and the water, the body and the blood, every day.
I just can’t seem to get enough of Easter, and wish it would never end. And maybe that means I’m getting closer to heaven, when it will never end. The older I get, the younger I get—every day is a day closer to my birth into eternal life and youth. The weaker I grow, the stronger I grow, in Christ Jesus. I just can’t get enough of Easter, because I know better now that it will, in fact, never end.