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A Feast of Solemnities
It could be said that today marks the beginning of a very solemn period for the Church with a feast ranked as a Solemnity celebrated on each of the next four Sundays! After today, which is the Ascension of the Lord, there is Pentecost on 19th May, the Most Holy Trinity on 26th and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on 2nd June.
Such a feast of feasts can be rather overwhelming for those who plan, lead, preach at and celebrate the liturgies. As usual, a good way to get to the heart of these celebrations is to look at the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer assigned to each. These liturgical texts offer helpful insights into the meaning of the feasts.
For the Lord Jesus, the King of glory,
conqueror of sin and death,
ascended (today) to the highest heavens,
as the Angels gazed in wonder.
Mediator between God and man,
judge of the world and Lord of hosts,
he ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state
but that we, his members, might be confident of following
where he, our Head and Founder, has gone before. (Preface of the Ascension I)
For after his Resurrection
he plainly appeared to all his disciples
and was taken up to heaven in their sight,
that he might make us sharers in his divinity. (Preface of the Ascension II)
For, bringing your Paschal Mystery to completion,
you bestowed the Holy Spirit today
on those you made your adopted children
by uniting them to your Only Begotten Son.
This same Spirit, as the Church came to birth,
opened to all peoples the knowledge of God
and brought together the many languages of the earth
in profession of the one faith. (Preface of Pentecost)
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty. (Preface of the Most Holy Trinity)
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ does not have its own Preface and one of the Prefaces of the Most Holy Eucharist is used:
For at the Last Supper with his Apostles,
establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross,
he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb,
the acceptable gift of perfect praise.
Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery,
you make them holy, so that the human race,
bounded by one world,
may be enlightened by one faith
and united by one bond of charity.
And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament,
so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace,
we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed. (Preface of Holy Eucharist II)