Ritual, custom, and tradition are perhaps the defining hallmarks of the Ascensionist religion. It is sometimes joked there is a saint for everything and every day is a feast day for something. Even so, the Church of the Ascension enjoys the largest body of followers on Terranis, despite being split across several denominations (the main differences between these denominations often being merely matters of conducting rituals, but sometimes more deep-seated doctrinal differences).
Continual tradition and ritual can be a massively beneficial element of stability in life, especially in turbulent times like those Terranis often faces, and this is no doubt a major factor in the Church’s success. Many of its traditions have remained essentially unchanged since before the Fall. Although it receives constant criticism from outside circles claiming its rigidness makes it unable to adapt to changing circumstances, it has endured regardless.
As far as central creeds go, the Church worships God, the Creator of All, builder of the universe and metaphorical father to humanity, if not its literal father. One core concept indigenous to it is the notion that, as Children of God, mankind holds a particular place of honor in the universe, by dint of being the only species yet discovered to possess true sentience. It is believed this is part of a grander Divine Plan, the ultimate goal of which remains one of the core mysteries of the faith. Since the outbreak of the Judgment War centuries ago, many Ascensionists have come to believe, rather than being some sort of divine punishment for man’s sins, the presence of the Great Enemy is meant as a test, a challenge to be overcome to make mankind stronger, or at the least prove it is worthy of continuing to exist.
That is not to say that the concept of sin does not exist in Ascensionist dogma. The principles of charity, honor, brotherhood, and self-sacrifice are amongst its most important, and their opposites are reviled. Conflict between humans is strongly discouraged, and only hatred towards the Great Enemy is tolerated in any form. The Order of Light takes many of these doctrines to extreme, never hesitating to respond to any Great Enemy presence with overwhelming force, and having no qualms over interfering in human politics if they feel things are getting out of control.
The primary holy symbol of the Ascensionists is the sun. Perhaps one of the best examples of the universe’s cycle of destruction and life, stars, though they are literally controlled explosions, are perhaps the most fundamental of all things needed for life to occur. Without their energies, all the worlds of the galaxy would be cold and lifeless. Ascensionist temples are typically built with an opening at the center of their roofs, allowing the sun to shine directly in during services typically held at mid-day. Although some may mistakenly assume it is the sun itself being worshiped, it is merely a symbol of the Light of God.
- Canon of the Church of the Ascension – (edition: 992 AF)
- Reflections of the Sun – (8th edition, 4201 AD)