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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“In my capacity as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I continue to remind all that the celebration toward the East (versus orientem) is authorized by the rubrics of the missal, which specify the moments when the celebrant must turn toward the people. A particular authorization is, therefore, not needed to celebrate Mass facing the Lord.”
— Robert Cardinal Sarah, 23 May 2016

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The Ascension of Our Lord
published 18 May 2012 by Fr. David Friel

What could we possibly be celebrating today, on the Ascension of our Lord? According to the Acts of the Apostles, “When [Jesus] had said this, as [the Apostles] were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). He vanished! He disappeared! He’s gone! What could possibly be worth celebrating about that?

Well, at the Ascension, Jesus did vanish in a certain sense. After that day, He was no longer simply one Person in one physical Body among many in the world. He disappeared that day as a single individual in visible, incarnate form.

But, in another sense, He actually became present that day. In the same chapter from Acts, Jesus tells us: “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, . . . you will be My witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In other words, as Jesus ascends to the Father, He promises to send the Holy Spirit upon us. And, when we receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we become in a fabulous, mystical way the very Body of Christ. We, ourselves!

From now on, those who want to see God, the Messiah, can no longer look to Jesus as He was when He walked the earth. This is what the Ascension celebrates: not only Jesus’ physical Ascension into heaven, but our ascension to a new role. Today, we take on the unfathomable role of being the mystical Body of Christ—His visible presence in the world.