HOMILY ON THE ASSUMPTION BVM
by Abbot Paul of Belmont (UK)
“Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.” With these words the Book of the Apocalypse celebrates God’s final victory over sin and death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we look at history and contemplate the state in the world today and when we come face to face with the power of evil, these words seem pure make-believe. Yet our faith in God’s plan of salvation and the celebration of today’s solemnity allow a glimmer of light to shine through the darkness. Indeed, faith in the Resurrection has given Christians hope and consolation in the most horrific situations the world has ever known. Think of St Maximilian Kolbe, whose martyrdom we celebrated yesterday.
Not only does the Resurrection answer our doubts and fears, it also gives meaning to the mystery of Man. Only when Jesus rose from the dead did the disciples finally understand the meaning of his life. Suddenly it all fell into place. At last they began to see the big picture, God’s scheme of things, the History of Salvation and our part in it.
Just as every feast is centred on Easter and is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, so too the Assumption, for we believe that Mary, the Mother of God, was taken up body and soul into heaven. It is the greatest feast of Our Lady from which all the others spring, the matrix of Marian devotion. The Assumption came to be known as Little Easter or Easter in Summer and, in many parts of Europe, Catholics make their Easter duty today.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God took flesh and blood from Mary and that flesh and blood were raised to the glory of heaven at his Resurrection and Ascension. Through the Incarnation, he shared his divine life with us as in Mary’s womb we shared our humanity with him. That humanity entered the glory of heaven when the risen Christ ascended to the Father’s right hand. As a special privilege, as a foretaste of our common destiny, that flesh and blood entered into the glory of heaven a second time when Our Lady fell asleep and was assumed body and soul, such was the depth of her divine Son’s love for his Blessed Mother. An ancient antiphon declares, “Through Mary, the gate of heaven, you came to crown our hope and fulfilment: today she goes before us into your kingdom.”
We have just heard these words of St Paul, “All men will be brought to life in Christ; Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end.” We belong to Christ through faith and baptism. We also belong to him through Mary, the glory of our race, the Mother of all who live and Queen of heaven. Today we celebrate the Easter Mystery, eternal life made manifest in Mary, the “lowly handmaid” of the Lord. “Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.” The Magnificat is not only Mary’s song of praise and thanksgiving for what God has done in her. It is also a prophecy of what he will do in each one of us. “His mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.”
So, it is true. “Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.” Christ is risen and Mary is assumed into heaven. Thanks be to God.
In the normal icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, Mary bears Jesus in her arms. In the normal icon of the Dormition of Our Lady, as this detail shows, Jesus bears Our Lady's soul in his arms, prior to taking her, body and soul, up to heaven with Him.
You will notice in the next two items, one Catholic and the other Orthodox, that, while the first says that the death of Mary is not defined, the Orthodox puts great emphasis on that death: Mary's Assumption is nothing less than a sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ which are two inseperable dimensions of the same Mystery. The Catholic comment is an example of the Latin tradition existing as though it bears no relation with the Eastern. Many Orthodox make the same mistake of separating the Eastern and Western traditions when they too are two inseperable dimensions of the same Catholic Tradition. Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI have made it quite clear that fidelity to the one Catholic Tradition involves accepting the truth of Mary's death, defined or not.
MARY, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD ~ CARDINAL NEWMAN
May 24, 2014 by Fr. Juan Velez
The title Holy Mother of God denotes the reason for all the other titles and privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In these reflections for the month of May John Henry Newman looks to one of the privileges, Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, body and soul. The Church has not defined that Mary died before her Assumption; instead She holds that at the end of her life on earth the Virgin Mary was taken to Heaven.
Newman held the belief that she did die and was raised to life by God. After asserting this he considers that after the Resurrection of Christ many prophets and holy men and women rose from their tombs. He asks: “it is not to be supposed that our Lord would have granted any such privilege to anyone else without also granting it to His own Mother.” Thus we can confidently believe that “our Lord, having preserved her from sin and the consequences of sin by His Passion, lost no time in pouring out the full merits of that Passion upon her body as well as her soul.”
Mary, Sancta Dei Genetrix, we venerate you as the Mother of God, and rejoice at your Assumption into Heaven. Next to your Son intercede for the Church.
Mary is the “Sancta Dei Genetrix,” the Holy Mother of God
AS soon as we apprehend by faith the great fundamental truth that Mary is the Mother of God, other wonderful truths follow in its train; and one of these is that she was exempt from the ordinary lot of mortals, which is not only to die, but to become earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Die she must, and die she did, as her Divine Son died, for He was man; but various reasons have approved themselves to holy writers, why, although her body was for a while separated from her soul and consigned to the tomb, yet it did not remain there, but was speedily united to her soul again, and raised by our Lord to a new and eternal life of heavenly glory.
And the most obvious reason for so concluding is this—that other servants of God have been raised from the grave by the power of God, and it is not to be supposed that our Lord would have granted any such privilege to anyone else without also granting it to His own Mother.
We are told by St. Matthew, that after our Lord’s death upon the Cross “the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that had slept”—that is, slept the sleep of death, “arose, and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, came into the Holy City, and appeared to many.” St. Matthew says, “many bodies of the Saints”—that is, the holy Prophets, Priests, and Kings of former times—rose again in anticipation of the last day.
Can we suppose that Abraham, or David, or Isaias, or Ezechias, should have been thus favoured, and not God’s own Mother? Had she not a claim on the love of her Son to have what any others had? Was she not nearer to Him than the greatest of the Saints before her? And is it conceivable that the law of the grave should admit of relaxation in their case, and not in hers? Therefore we confidently say that our Lord, having preserved her from sin and the consequences of sin by His Passion, lost no time in pouring out the full merits of that Passion upon her body as well as her soul.
Meditations and Devotions, see www.newmanreader.org
SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
(Fr Thomas Hopko)
In the sermon of Cardinal Newman and the talk by Father T. Hopko, we see how East and West complement each other; while, in the remarks introducing the sermon of Cardinal Newman, we see what happens when the West forgets the Eastern tradition - all that about Mary not dying and this being o.k. because it hasn't been defined.
"And therefore she died in private. It became Him who died for the world, to die in the world's sight; it became the Great Sacrifice to be lifted up on high, as a light that could not be hid. But she, the lily of Eden, who had always dwelt out of the sight of man, fittingly did she die in the garden's shade, and amid the sweet flowers in which she had lived. Her departure made no noise in the world. The Church went about her common duties, preaching, converting, suffering; there were persecutions, there was fleeing from place to place, there were martyrs, there were triumphs: at length the rumour spread abroad that the Mother of God was no longer upon earth. Pilgrims went to and fro; they sought for her relics, but they found them not; did she die at Ephesus? or did she die at Jerusalem? reports varied; but her tomb could not be pointed out, or if it was found, it was open; and instead of her pure and fragrant body, there was a growth of lilies from the earth which she had touched. So, inquirers went home marvelling, and waiting for further light. And then it was said how that when her dissolution was at hand, and her soul was to pass in triumph before the judgment seat of her Son, the Apostles were suddenly gathered together in one place, even in the Holy City, to bear part in the joyful ceremonial; how that they buried her with fitting rites; how that the third day, when they came to the tomb, they found it empty, and angelic choirs with their glad voices were heard singing day and night the glories of their risen Queen. But, however we feel towards the details of this history (nor is there anything in it which will be unwelcome or difficult to piety), so much cannot be doubted, from the consent of the whole Catholic world and the revelations made to holy souls, that as is befitting, she is, soul and body, with her Son and God in heaven, and that we are enabled to celebrate not only her death, but her Assumption."(John Henry Cardinal Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, pp. 375-8; cited in J. Regina, ed., The Mystical Rose, St. Pauls Editions, 1960, pp. 91-94.)
ST JOHN DAMASCENE ON THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN (CLICK)
SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS ON THE DORMITION OF THE MOST PURE MOTHER OF GOD (CLICK)
OUR LADY THEOTOKOS IN THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TRADITION (CLICK)
THE LARGEST MARIAN SHRINE IN THE WORLD: OUR LADY OF APARECIDA (BRAZIL) (CLICK)
OUR LADY OF LOURDES AND SAINT BERNADETTE (CLICK)
OUR LADY OF FATIMA (CLICK)
OUR LADY OF MEDJUGORJE (CLICK)
OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR or OUR LADY OF THE PASSION(CLICK)
THE ICON OF OUR LADY OF KAZAN, PROTECTRESS OF MOSCOW
( and its connection with Fatima) (click)