Tag Archives: Christianity

Today is Ascension Sunday

Christi Himmelfahrt by Fresken von Gebhard Fugel
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

For most Christians and the Roman Catholic Church, today is Ascension Sunday when Jesus ascends into Heaven. The word ascension has a different meaning when applied in a religious context. Ascension is generally defined as ascend, or to go up. For instance, you ascend stairs, or you ascend a mountain path. Or it could be used to denote moving up to higher job level (he ascended to company president after the retirement of the previous one). Ascension in Judaism though means going to Heaven either without having to die first or after dying. In Jewish scripture, Elijah was taken directly to Heaven. The same applies to Enoch (Noah’s great-grandfather) as it appears from the text this happened as well.

In the case of Jesus, according to Christian teaching, he died and was resurrected. He then spent 40 days with his disciples. On the 40th day, he and the disciples went to Mount of Olives near Bethany and was also near Jerusalem. Only two gospels-Mark and Luke-record this event while the other two (Matthew and John) don’t though John does reference it. It is also recounted in the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles. The event was accepted by the early Church and also referenced in the Epistles. The traditional site (Mount of Olives) had a church built upon it in the Fourth century but was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. The current structure is the Chapel of the Ascension and is easily discerned by its octagonal shape. It is considered a holy site by both Christians and Muslims.

Traditionally Ascension Day is held 39 days after Easter Sunday, so it falls on a Thursday. The Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, so it is not celebrated at the same time as the Western Christian churches. Check out the liturgical calendar from the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church for more information. Ascension Day is a day of obligation meaning church attendance is required. Usually as part of the service, the Paschal candle that was lit on Easter will be extinguished to symbolize Jesus departure from earth. In some Catholic and Lutheran countries, it is a public holiday (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, German, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and some cantons in Switzerland). Ascension Day is not celebrated in the United Kingdom, United States, or Australia. Some Christian denominations may not mark it for celebration on Thursday and move it to Sunday.

For many years the Roman Catholic church celebrated it on Thursday, but that is no longer always the case. Back in the 1990’’s there was a movement in the United States (starting out on the West Coast) that started moving the day to the nearest Sunday. The movement to move mid-week holy days of obligation had been going on for some time already in the church. The reasons were both practical and spiritual. Since many people work during the week, they cannot always get to church. And by moving some holy days of obligation to Sunday, it will allow that important solemnity to be more widely celebrated. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere now have dioceses that have moved Ascension Day to Sunday. The Vatican now allows (with permission from the Holy See) each countries bishop conference to move some holy days of obligation to Sunday.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops now allows Ascension Sunday to take place on the 7th Sunday of Easter. However, dioceses that wish to observe on Thursday can do so. Currently the archdioceses and dioceses of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia are the only ones in the United States that celebrate Ascension Day on Thursday.


 Pope, Msgr. Charles. “Ascension Sunday: The Lord ‘Taken up Into Heaven.’” NCR, 10 May 2024, www.ncregister.com/features/ascension-sunday-the-lord-taken-up-into-heaven.

Boelke, Rob. Why Do We Celebrate the Ascension on a Sunday? | Sacred Heart Catholic Church. 6 May 2024, sacredheartfla.org/2024/05/06/why-do-we-celebrate-the-ascension-on-a-sunday.

Rees, Neil. “What Is Ascension Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?” Christianity Today, 9 May 2024, www.christiantoday.com/article/what.is.ascension.day.and.why.do.we.celebrate.it/141704.htm.

Today is Good Friday

Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri(1821-1891)
Public Domain

Today is Good Friday, an important event in the Christian liturgical calendar. Some argue the word Good is a corruption and used to mean God Friday. Others argue it always meant that the day is meant to be pious or holy. For Christians, Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. Observant Christians will mark the day by silent meditation, prayer, and church attendance. Many will fast during the day, particularly during the hours of 12 noon to 3 p.m. Hot Cross Buns are a traditional food many cultures use on this day (and through the Easter season). Most Catholics and Christians will avoid eating meat on this day and usually the main meal will be fish. Good Friday (and sometimes Easter Monday)are public holidays in many countries. Good Friday always occurs on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

For Further Information:

Feast of Saint Patrick (17 March)

St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland.
Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, and St. Patrick, Goleen, County Cork, Ireland
Photo:Andreas F. Borchert/Wikimedia

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and known for bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was born in 390 A.D in Britain and raised by a Christian family. However he was not much interested in God and at the time was illiterate. When he was 16, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he was forced to work as a shepherd on a hillside. All alone except for his sheep and captors. he began to cry out to God for rescue him. He had a dream in which God revealed himself and that he would be going home.

Risking his life, he boarded a ship for Britain where he returned to his family. He was welcomed back but realized that he had been transformed by God. He entered a monastery to pursue his calling as a Catholic priest. As a result of his education, he came to understand Holy Scripture and impressed his peers and superiors with his character. He would be made a bishop in due course. Nearly three decades after this slavery in Ireland, he felt a call from God that he had to return to Ireland and spread the word of Jesus to a people who had become lost. This was no easy journey for him since travel was difficult but he faced hostility from those who opposed him trying to convert people away from paganism. Patrick was ready though to face the trials that might take his life (he was attacked and beaten by thugs and Irish royalty disdained him) and persevered in proclaiming the Gospel and training converts.

His courageous leadership and his crisscrossing the countryside paid off as thousands and more would be converted. Churches were being established and he was training those to shepherd the church after he was gone. He would die on March 17, 461 A.D. He has been venerated as a saint and patron saint of Ireland since then by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches.

St. Patrick’s Day postcard, 1912 of “Old Weir Bridge” at Dinis Cottage, in Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Public Domain/Wikipedia

In Ireland it is a solemnity and thus a holy day of obligation. It is also a cultural day as well to celebrate Ireland. Traditionally many in Ireland will wear shamrocks, wear green, attend Mass, watch parades, have a special breakfast and dinner, and of course celebrate by having a beer in their favorite pub (or outside due to the crowds). It has been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Since the feast does fall within Lent and is a solemnity in Ireland, it is permissible to eat foods normally excluded during this time (or any food you have selected to give up). Outside of Ireland though, it is not and local bishops will offer guidance. Usually the bishop will allow those who wish to celebrate to be excused from Friday obligation of fasting but may require you to fast on a different day in the week or the following one.

Fun Fact (or perhaps not)

Many people associate Corned Beef and Cabbage as an Irish dish for St. Patrick’s Day (please do not say St. Paddy’s Day!). However it is not an Irish dish but an Irish-American one. In Ireland of the past, land was precious due to the English seizing lots of it for themselves (and putting many Irish people into indentured servitude in the American Colonies). So people did not have lots of land needed for cows to graze on (you might have a cow for milk but that would be it). Pigs became popular because they require no grazing, can be easily penned, and thus cheaper to keep. So while possibly in the far past they used beef, pork became the preferred meat for many meals and especially for St. Patrick’s Day. When Irish migrated to the United States much later (due to the famine), they discovered corned beef when they saw it being used in Jewish delicatessens. So like dumping turnips for the American pumpkin for the Jack o’ Lantern, corned beef became popular amongst many Irish people since it was easily available unlike in Ireland.  And thus was born the now popular corned beef and cabbage amongst Irish Americans.

Important note for 2024

Since his feast day falls on Sunday this year, the church rule is that only one solemnity can be celebrated.  So for most dioceses that will honor St. Patrick, this will occur on Monday, March 18 (such as is the case in New York and San Francisco). However since St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, his feast day will be celebrated on Sunday replacing the 5th Sunday of Lent.

The Minstrel Boy

Probably one of the most favored Irish tunes is The Minstrel Boy. Here is a version from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Wounded, Following it is a more traditional version. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!




“Who Was St. Patrick? – Celebratation, Ireland, Catholic | HISTORY.” HISTORY, 4 Mar. 2024, www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick.

“St. Patrick – Saints and Angels – Catholic Online.” Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89.

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Patrick. www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm.

Today is Christmas Day (Eastern Orthodox)

Today is Christmas Day in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Most Eastern Orthodox follow the Julian calendar for the liturgical year, which means Christmas is celebrated 13 days after it is celebrated in the West. The Eastern Orthodox churches in Constantinople (Istanbul), Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Romania and most recently Ukraine celebrate Christmas on December 25. All the other Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate it on 7 January. Armenia has both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, so both dates are observed. Many old order Amish celebrate a second Christmas, called Old Christmas, on January 7 as well.

So to my Eastern Orthodox friends, I will wish a blessed and joyful Christmas Day.


Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!


The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)





Today is Epiphany/Three Kings Day(Actual)

Wise Men Adoration
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo ((1617–1682)
Toledo Museum of Art
Public Domain

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6 by most Western Christian denominations. It is the day set aside to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem and the presentation of their gifts to Jesus. The Catholic Church decided to move its observance to the Sunday after Christmas so people would not have to take off work to attend mass.  In 2021, since Christmas fell on a Saturday, it was celebrated the next day. However the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas are still in play.

Twelfth Day observances vary by country and some celebrate it on the evening before. Usually there are special celebrations involving foods and special cakes. If a Christmas log was lit for the season, it is now extinguished. King cake (a traditional part of the feast) is almost always present. Children often get gifts of candy or other things from the Wise Men. In Italy, the Christmas Witch La Belfana delivers  gifts on Epiphany Eve to stockings children put up before bed. They awake to the delight of treats in the stockings. In Spain, it is celebrated as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) where families gather to celebrate the day.

One good way to celebrate it with the family is to gather before the  nativity to remember what the holiday is all about. Christmas music should be played and a nice midday meal served. Then taking down the Christmas tree can be done together. The nativity scene can remain up until the Baptism of the Lord (Jan 9 this year) which ends the Christmas season.


Today is the Feast of St.Stephen (Boxing Day U.K.)

Saint Stephen by Carlo Crivelli (1476)
Source: National Gallery, London via Wikimedia Commons.
Public Domain in UK and US; may be restricted in other countries.

If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas , you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Saint Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe) it is a public holiday.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.

Further Information

St. Stephen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
St. Stephen (Britannica)
Boxing Day (pauldenton.co.uk)

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Merry Christmas from Titanic News Channel

Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!


The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)


Advent (4th Sunday)

Photo:Public Domain

Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent and normally the last full week of Advent. However in 2023 this is both the first and last day of Advent as today is Christmas Eve.  Advent begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew (30 November) but this year that day fell on a Thursday, meaning that the first day of Advent fell on Sunday, December 3 making it a three week Advent season.

This does not mean one does not observe it. You should light the Advent candles at dinner after reciting the prayer. And of course read the scripture readings for this day as well, If you are participating in the Christmas Novena, this is the last day of the novena. Then at midnight Advent ends and it becomes Christmas Day!

For 2024, Advent will begin on December 1 as the previous day was the feast of St. Andrew. And unlike 2023, will go the full four weeks with the last Sunday on  December 22.

Drop down dew from above, you heavens,
and let the clouds rain down the Just One;
let the earth be opened and bring forth a Saviour.
(Isaiah 45:8)

Happy Sunday!

Advent (3rd Sunday) Gaudete Sunday


Gaudete Sunday, sometimes called Rejoice Sunday, is the mid-point during the Advent season. Advent is, like Lent, a penitential time but shortened considerably. During Advent priests wear purple and some aspects of the liturgy are, like Lent, not performed. Likewise, the altar is kept as simple as possible. On Gaudete Sunday, the priest will wear a rose or pink color vestment, flowers are allowed in the altar, and the use of an organ is allowed as well. The purpose of the day is to remind that during a time of penance (or any period of darkness) is that God’s joy is with us. That times of darkness are temporary, and we should rejoice. The Advent wreath candle for the day is also rose or pink as well. The word gaudete means rejoice in Latin.

The hymn Veni, veni, Emmanuel (or better known in English as (O come, O come, Emmanuel ) is sung in churches on this day.

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Veni, veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio,
Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel
nascetur per te, Israel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.