Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/845

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767

ASCENSION


767


ASCETICISM


pretext (unless to become Carthusians), without express permission, shall be regarded as apostates, and incur excommunication. The simple vows wliich tliey nialce after their novitiate constitute them religious in the true and proper sense of the word, with the consequent privileges. Thus they enjoy the exemption of regulars; and their simple vows, as solemn vows with other religious, are a diriment impediment to matrimony, that is, a marriage contract attempted by a .Jesuit witli simple vows, even though he be not a priest, would be null and void.

Inntilutum Socirtalit Jem (Florence, 190.'}); Bullarium el compendium Priviteffiorum {Florence, 188(i-9l); Oswald. Commentarium in Congt, Soc. Jea. (ed. 3, Roermond, 1902); SuARF.z, De Religione, Op. Omn. (Paris, 1877), XVI, tract, viii, lib. Ill, c. ix; tract, ix, lib. I, c. i; tract, x, lib. 1, c. vi; lib. VI. c. ii.

M. O'RlOHD.AJST.

Ascension, the elevation of Clirist into lieaven by His own power in presence of His disciples the fortieth day after His Resurrection. It is narrated in St. Mark, xvi, 19, St. Luke, xxiv, .51, and in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Although the place of the Ascension is not distinctly stated, it would appear from the Acts that it was Mount Olivet, since after the Ascension the disciples are described as returning to Jerusalem from the mount tliat is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a Sabbath day's journey. Tradition has consecrated this site as the .Mount of Ascension and Christian pii'ly has memorialized the event by erecting over the site a basilica. St. Helena built the first me- morial, which was destroyed by the Persians in 614, rebuilt in the eighth century, to be destroyed again, but rebuilt a second time by the crusaders. This the Mohammedans also destroyed, leaving only the octagonal structure which encloses the stone said to bear the imprint of the feet of Christ, that is now used .as an oratory. Not only is the fact of the Ascension related in the pa-ssages of Scripture cited above, but it is also elsewhere predicted and spoken of as an established fact. Thus, in St. John, vi, 63, Christ asks the Jews: — "If then you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?" and XX, 17, He says to Mary Magdalen: — "Do not touch Me, for I am not yet ascended to My Kather, but go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God." Again, in Ephesians, iv, 8-10, and I Timothy, iii, 16, the Ascension of Christ is spoken of as an accepted fact. The language used by the Evangelists to describe the Ascension must be in- terpreted according to usage. To say that He was taken up, or that He a.scended, does not necessarily imply that they locate heaven directly above the earth; no more than the words "sitteth on the right hand of God" mean that this is His actual posture. In disappearing from their view "He was rai.sed up and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts, 1,9), and entering into glory He dwells with the Father in the honour and power denoted by the Scripture phrase.

Martin in Vigodroux, Diet, de la Bible.

John J. Wi-nne.

Ascension, Fea.st of the, the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, commemorating the Ascension of Christ into heaven, according to Mark, xvi, 19, Luke, xxiv, .51, and Acts, i, 2. In the ICastern Church this feast w;ia known as ai'd\r)\p(Ti!. the taking up, and also as the Itnauiioi^ivTf. the salvation, denot- ing that by ascending into His glor\' Christ com- pleted the work of our redemption, 'i'he terms used in the West, ascen-iio and, occasionally, a.icen.ta, signify that Christ was raised up by His own powers. Tradition designates .Mount Olivet near Helliany as the place where Christ left the earth. The feast falls on Thursday. It is one of the (ecumenical feasts


ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter and of Pentecost among the most solemn in the calendar, li.as a vigil and, since the fifteenth century, an octave which is set apart for a novena of preparation for Pentecost, in accordance with the directions of Leo XIII. The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. .Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the uni- versal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostoni, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Sylvia (Perciirhiatio Elhcriw) speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feiust itself, as they were ke[)t in the Church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ was born (Duchesne, Christian Wor- ship, 491-.515). It may he that prior to the fifth century the fact narrated in the Gospels was com- memorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost. Some belic\o that the much-disputed forty-third decree of the Council of Elvira, c. 300 condemning the practice of observing a feast on the fortieth day after Easter and neglecting to keep Pentecost on the fiftieth day, implies that the proper visage of the time wsis to commemorate the Ascension along with Pentecost. Representations of tha mystery are found in diptyclis and frescoes dating as early as the fifth century. Certain customs were connected witli the liturgy of this fe;ist, such as the blessing of beans and grapes after the Commemora- tion of the Dead in the Canon of the Mass, the bless- ing of first fruits, afterwards done on Rogation Days the blessing of a candle, the wearing of mitres by deacon and .subdcacon, the extinction of the paschal candle, and triumphal processions with torches and banners outside the churches to commemorate the entry of Christ into heaven. Rock records the English custom of carrying at the head of the pro- cession the banner bearing the device of the lion and at the foot the banner of the dragon, to .symbolize the triumph of Christ in His ascension over the evil one. In some churches the scene of the .\scension was vividly reproduced by elevating; the figure of Christ above the altar through an opening in the roof of the church. In others, whilst the figure of Christ was made to ascend, that of the devil was made to descend. In the liturgies generally the day is meant to celebrate the completion of the work of our salvation, the pledge of our glorification with Christ, and His entry into heaven with our human nature glorified.

DocHKSNK, Chrislian Worship (London, 1904); Nillf.8, Katendarium Utriutque Eccleti'v (Innsbruck, 1897). II. 362- 374; Cabboi,. in Did. d'arch. chrlt. el lilurg.; Butleb, FeaaU and FatU: Gu4ranokr, III, s. v.

John J. Wynne. Ascetical Theology. See Theology, Ascbti-

CAL.

Asceticism from the Greek iaK^ait, which means practice, bodily exercise, and more especially, athletic training. The early Christians adopted it to signify the practice of spiritual things, or spiritual exercises performed for the purpose of acquiring habits of virtue. .■\t present it is not infrequentlv employed in an opprobrious sense, to designate the religious practices of Oriental fanatics as well as those of the ('hristian saint, both of whom are by some placed in the .same categorj'. It is not uncommonly con- founded with austerity, even by Catholics, but in- correctly. For although the flesh is continually lusting against the spirit, and repression and self- denial are necessary to control the animal passions, it would be an error to measure a man's virtue liy the extent and character of his bodily penances. Ex- ternal penances even in the saints, are regarded with