It wouldn’t hurt to go to Mass today, even if you don’t “have” to.
How and when did this transferal in the US take place? Glad you asked. Here’s what the USCCB website says about it, in part:
In accord with the provisions of canon 1246, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “… the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See,” the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States decrees that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter according to the following procedure.
The decision of each Ecclesiastical Province to transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension is to be made by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the bishops of the respective Ecclesiastical Province. The decision of the Ecclesiastical Province should be communicated to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and to the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
This happened back in July 1999. As it’s happened, only 6 US ecclesiastical provinces hold to Thursday as a Holy Day of Obligation for the Solemnity of the Ascension.
From The Catholic Miscellany:
Given the demands of modern life and the ability of believers to make more than one holy day Mass in a single week, the reformed Liturgy’s guidelines suggested national collections of bishops determine the suitability of transferring to Sunday certain feasts integral to the faith.
Today, for instance, only six of the 32 ecclesiastical provinces, or small collection of dioceses under one archbishop, retain Ascension on Thursday. Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia, and the dioceses under each of their respective archbishops, observe Ascension on Thursday. All other archdioceses and the dioceses transfer Ascension to the following Sunday.
If you live in those provinces – get thee to Mass. The rest of youse guys? Sleep in a little, grab a nap, have lunch with a friend, whatevs. We have Jesus for three more days.
Or maybe petition the heck out of your archbishop. Jesus wants to return to His Father today.
Oh, and lest you think this is a US phenomenon, it’s not. According to Wikipedia:
The switch to Sunday was made in 1992 by the church in Australia; before 1996 in parts of Europe; in 1996 in Ireland; before 1998 in Canada and parts of the western United States; in many other parts in the United States from 1999; and in England and Wales from 2007.
My opinion? The transferal of holy days was not so much a recognition that modern life has made great demands on the lives of so many Catholics, but a voluntary action on the part of the bishops to acquiesce to the culture rather than remaining in stark contrast to it, and demanding more from their flock. And their priests. Making Holy Days of Obligation optional, by transferring some to the nearest Sunday, is just one example of enabling Catholics to be cultural rather than counter-cultural. This exemplifies the dearth of faith in the West. We’ve become culturally indulgent and lazy in our religiosity. When Christ returns, it better happen on a Sunday, because us Catholics be waaaay too busy with the demands of modern life to make time for Judgment Day on a weekday. That’s just my opinion. I’m sure the USCCB’s decision to transfer Holy Days wasn’t taken lightly, and that there was thorough and well-reasoned discussions and all sorts of logical rationalization, but there’s a wee little part of me that thinks:
I’m kidding, of course. Aren’t I?