sanctification of time or the importance of feasting amidst quotidian realities. (The situation in Italy is truly absurd: the Vatican City-State keeps the Ascension on its proper day, but step one foot into the city of Rome--or go further afield into the rest of country--and the Church in Italy has "transferred" it to the following Sunday.) The entire weight of Scripture and Tradition is clear: it was forty days after Pascha, not 43. Transferring the Ascension--or any of the other feasts--from their proper place has been a deplorably common practice since Vatican II. Such liturgical shenanigans have only condemned Ascensiontide* to still greater ignorance and misunderstanding.
Building off his earlier work, Ascension and Ecclesia: On the Significance of the Doctrine of the Ascension for Ecclesiology and Christian Cosmology, Douglas Farrow has just published a welcome new book to help all Christians, East and West, understand this great mystery: Ascension Theology (T&T Clark, May 2011), 192pp.
About this book, the publisher tells us:
Ascension Theology places the doctrine of the ascension in the context of the biblical narrative of descent and ascent, in order to shed light on ‘the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ and on the eucharistic community that hears and answers that call. It is a book for the Church as well as the academy.
Ascension theology also offers a contemporary account of the Eucharist itself. It addresses the relation of the heavenly session of Christ to the conflicting currents of the present age, and the transformation to the life of the world to come. Specialist and non-specialist alike will find much to ponder in its traditional yet controversial claims.
Preface. 1: The Upward Call. 2: Re-imaginings. 3: Raising the Stakes. 4: A Question of Identity. 5. Presence in Absence. 6. The Politics of the Eucharist. 7. Ascension and Atonement. Epilogue. A Summary of the Anaphoric Work of Christ. Prayers for Ascensiontide. Bibliography. List of Images. Index.___________________
* For those who love the English choral tradition, as I do, there is a splendid CD by the justly famous King's College Choir, Cambridge: Choral Evensong for Ascension Day.