The Seventh Sunday of Easter. A station where the trains no longer stop.
Lord Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after He rose from the dead. He ascended, therefore, on a Thursday.
But, for the past twenty years, most of us Catholics have commemorated the Ascension of Christ on the 43rd day. Our bishops decided it would suit people better to have the Solemnity of the Ascension on Sunday. (Theodore McCarrick preferred it that way.)
This replaced the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Now that liturgical day haunts us only as a phantom.
Thing is, we would read something kinda important at Mass, if we kept the Seventh Sunday of Easter. John 17. The priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, the message you delivered to Me, I have delivered to the men you singled out from the world and entrusted to Me. They have accepted it. They really understand that I come from You, and they believe that I am Your ambassador.
I am not long for the world. Holy Father! Keep them loyal to Your name, which You have given Me. Consecrate them in the service of the truth.
As You made Me Your ambassador to the world, so I make them My ambassadors to the world. I also pray for those who, through their preaching, will believe in Me. You love them as You love Me.
May the love with which You love Me dwell in them, as I dwell in them.
There’s more. The Lectionary apportions the entire chapter over the three-year Sunday cycle. I quote here just some passages. And I quote from the translation of James Kleist, which I find particularly moving.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church dedicates an entire article to John 17. St. Thomas Aquinas commented on this chapter of John: “Previously the Lord consoled His disciples by example and encouragement. Here He comforts them by His prayer.” I personally find bottomless comfort and consolation in reading John 17.
Neglecting to read John 17 at Sunday Mass seems almost as odd as it would be to neglect to read John 1 at Sunday Mass. The Prologue to the gospel.
Wait. We actually do neglect to read John 1 at Sunday Mass. Owing to similar circumstances. The Lectionary includes John 1 for the Second Sunday of Christmas. Another phantom station where the train never stops. Since the bishops moved the Solemnity of the Epiphany from January 6 to the second Sunday after Christmas.
Not sure the Fathers of Vatican II had this in mind, exactly. But we still have our Bibles, and know how to read. Thank God.
Today not only comes as the anniversary of the ordination of a certain clodhopper priest. We also keep the 265th anniversary of the British expedition from Boston that conquered Fort Beauséjour, in what is now Nova Scotia. (The expedition left Boston on May 22, 1755.) This conquest led to the Great Expulson of the Acadian people.
The Acadians had lived in the maritime provinces of Canada for well over a century. French Catholics, they intermarried with the Mi’kmaq and created a distinct ethnicity. When the French colonial authorities abandoned Acadia, the Mi’kmaq refused to acknowledge British sovereignty.
After the British conquered Fort Beauséjour in early June, they proceeded to deport 11,500 Acadians, over the course of nine years. The Spanish helped many of them to re-locate to Louisiana. There, the “Acadians” became “Cajuns.” Still speaking their colonial French and still Catholic.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline sings the tragic tale of the displaced people.
A fellow seminarian, a Cajun, taught me all this history. It has stuck with me ever since. I take the moral as: God always has a plan.