It’s Ascensiontide, that wonderful ending of Eastertide that divides off the great feast of the Ascension from the even greater feast of Pentecost. The Ascension is exactly forty days off from Easter and Pentecost is fifty. Easter (the Pasch) and Pentecost (Weeks) were high festivals for the Jews of the first century, too, and days during which the people were expected to assist at the Temple rituals in Jerusalem. Needless to say, the first Christians, emerging from the Jewish world and religious culture, retained many Jewish customs and brought them into the Church with new meaning. For the Jews, Weeks commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Horeb. For the Christian, Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the Holy Mother at Jerusalem.

Today we begin the novena to the Holy Spirit, which continues for nine days until the feast day of Pentecost.