Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

 

Introit

 

Kyrie


Gloria

 

Collect

Almighty ever-living God,
who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son,
body and soul into heavenly glory,
grant, we pray,
that, always attentive to the things that are above,
we may merit to be sharers of her glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

First Reading  RV 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One."

Responsorial Psalm PS 45:10, 11, 12, 16

R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

 

The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.  R/.

Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,

forget your people and your father's house.

So shall the king desire your beauty;

for he is your lord. R/.

They are borne in with gladness and joy;

they enter the palace of the king. R/.

Second Reading  1 COR 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for "he subjected everything under his feet."

Alleluia

 

Gospel LK 1:39-56

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said:

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

and has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children forever."

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Reflection Questions

  1. Where has God prepared a place of safety for you in times of threat?
  2. Where do you see Christ’s victory over his enemies even now?
  3. How are you blessed for believing?

Catena Nova

What does Mary say to us? “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior!” She fell asleep in the body but was taken by God to himself and to full wakefulness. She was taken up so as to proclaim the greatness of her Lord and God, and ours, unsleepingly and forever. Aren’t we called to do the same? Aren’t we called to wake up and praise the Lord so that all the earth can know God’s glory and God’s love for all human kind? What God called Mary to do was to bring Christ into the world for the world’s salvation. What God calls us to do is receive Christ and to show him to all the world. To see Christ in truth is to seek the God who reveals himself though Christ. That is salvation. To show salvation to the world is our vocation as it was that of Mary (Modestus of Jerusalem).

By God’s mysterious choice Mary is the mother of all Christians. You have been blessed by being called to bear the name of Christian and by dedicating your entire life freely to the service of God and Christ. Mary shows herself a true mother by care and loving attention. Her heart is never hardened against those in  need. The womb of her merciful love never ceases to bring forth the fruits of a motherly compassion. She remains ever fruitful. We too can by God’s grace be ever fruitful of compassion and caring concern. Within the locked garden of her chastity there is a never-failing well-spring of charity. It is channeled to the entire
world and its waters are there for us even in courtyards and streets. Charity delights to bestow its gifts even on enemies. It seeks to help everyone as Christ is formed in them. How much more of us who have given our lives to proclaiming the glory of God and shouting out God’s word to all who will listen? (Bl. Guerric of Igny).

It was fitting that the Holy Virgin should share in every aspect of her Son’s providential care for all of us. Just as she had given her flesh and blood to Jesus and had received in return a share of his graces, so likewise she shared in his pains and sufferings. When his side was pierced by the lance as he hung on the cross, a sword pierced his mother’s heart, just as saintly Simeon had foretold. After our Savior’s death, she was the first to conform herself to the Son who resembled her; she shared in his resurrection before anyone else. ...Thus, the grave received her body for a short time but heaven soon took it from the grave as a new earth, a spiritual body, a treasure of our human life more revered than the angels and holier than the archangels. His proper throne was restored to the King, paradise to the tree of life, the sun’s orb to the light, the tree to its fruit, the mother to her son. In every respect she was in accord with her Child (Nicholas Cabasilas).

If we practice the contemplation taught and shown to us by Our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers. If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, if we are recollected then we know that however insignificant our own life may seem to be, Christ is forming himself in us and that is never insignificant. If we go with eager wills, in haste, to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that is what He wants—that He wants to be in that place, we will find that we are driven more and more by the impulse of his love. And there are the answers we get from others as the Christ life in us awakens impulses of love in them. They are awakened too into a leap of joy at the life they find is growing within them as well.... We need to be swift to obey the impulses of Christ-love as we carry Him to wherever he longs to go. Those who recognize his presence will be stirred by a new life within them. They will know Christ’s presence, not by anything special about us, but in the way the bud knows the presence of the light, by an unfolding in themselves. They are putting on the new beauty God is giving them as bearers of Christ. It seems to me that this may be Christ’s favorite way of being recognized. He prefers to be known, not by his own human features but by a quickening of his life in the hearts which respond to his coming within them. After the Resurrection he wasn’t known by the familiar features people had once known. He was now known by the love in the hearts of others, as in the heart of Magdalene. He was known by the fire in the feet of the travelers to Emmaus as they hurried return to Jerusalem to tell about him. He was known by the wound in his side and heart, as touched by Thomas. He is known in the deeds of love he does in and with us.  That’s how we imitate Our Lady in showing him to all the world (Caryll Houselander).

God, Scripture tells us, created human kind male and female—as an image of God. Both the male and the female, then, have their prototype in God. An early Christian liturgical poem speaks of Mary as “mother of
fatherly love”. The fruit of divine love is human love and love is wholly itself only as both male and female. It is this love of God, both maternal and paternal, which has become visible in the Only Son, and must become visible in us.... Only if we accept both the maternal and paternal into our way of living faith in Christ do we embody the “whole Christ” and make it present as living sacraments for the world of our day.... It is brought to fullness in the New Adam and the Church. This is the new humanity which we put  on when we become one with Christ. It is simultaneously Christ’s body and spouse. In this unity we see the true and eternal ideal for humankind, as God had planned from the very beginning. It is the perfect and indissoluble unity of male and female as realized both in men and in women. This is new. Our task is to learn how to live this newness in new ways of loving and so relating to one another. It is a newness our  world needs if all are to come to life’s fullness and the self we are in God’s sight. It depends on how men and women love each other (Aemiliana Lohr).

How should we approach Mary’s Assumption? It is a living fulfillment of Christ’s promise to all his disciples: He has gone to the Heavenly Father to prepare a place for us, because it is his will that where he is there we too shall be. With Him the glory that the Heavenly Father gave him will be ours too, and all that follows from it. So, it goes, almost without saying, that Mary’s Assumption into Heaven is a fulfillment of the promise made to all of us.... Mary’s assumption is the pledge of the glory Christ gives to all who are his spouse. He has already shared that glory with his mother.... Have you ever tried to imagine what that state of “glory”, as we call it, will be like? We know that it is already realized for Mary and for endless other saints in her train. We also know that Christ’s ascension didn’t mean that he had left us to our own devices in our present condition. He has gone only to prepare a place for us with him. Where he is we are soon to be. Yet his going didn’t, and doesn’t, separate us from Christ! Now apply this to Mary. She has been taken to Heaven and is with Christ but as Christ is with us still so is Mary. She can’t be absent from wherever he is because he has promised we will be with Him always. The same is true for us. If we want to imagine what it is like to be with Christ, we have to begin from the fact that it means we won’t be absent from any of those who are still on earth—after all Christ is with them and we will always be with Him. Mary’s blessedness has been made perfect and it doesn’t separate her from us any more than does Christ’s. The same will be true for us. But Christ always stands interceding for us before the Heavenly Father. So does Mary, and so shall we. Everyone, in the bliss of an eternal Eucharist, shall be one of innumerably many bearers of blessing. With her we will ever be united with her Son and our Savior, interceding and bringing blessings upon all. That is God’s will for us, fulfilled already in her. Don’t be afraid! Christ is with us always (Fr. Louis Bouyer).

The fundamental doctrine of Christianity proclaims that eternal glory is now a possibility in the history of our world, of our humanity and our flesh and blood. In the flesh and blood of Christ, which is a part of this world, our reality is already in eternal glory. How are we to think of this possibility and promise personally? We can begin from the perfect achievement of the work of redemption, we can think of Mary. The perfection of the grace given her is in its final stage because she has left earthly life, the life of ordinary space and time, and entered into glory. Nothing more takes place for her as events take place on earth but the harvest sown in her and through her within the fields of this world is gathered into God’s eternal barn. In her life on this earth Mary was the highest and unmatched realization of God’s redemption of humankind. It was the redemption of a human person endowed with the grace of being the Mother of God. Consequently she was the perfect type and perfect representative of the very essence of redemption. She has already attained the perfection of beatitude, has accomplished her earthly course. What is more, in the chronology of sacred history the hour is far advanced in such a way that the perfection and beatitude of soul and of body is already possible. That is what it means to proclaim that Mary has been taken up into heaven in body and soul. That is what is promised to us who believe in the Risen Lord Jesus and entrust ourselves to God in and through Jesus (Fr. Karl Rahner).

Homily

            The year was 1950.  The Second World War ended five years earlier on August 15, 1945, nine days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6.  For those sensitive to the intersection of the liturgy and history, the latter was the feast of the Lord’s transfiguration, when another kind of blinding light shone forth from the face of Christ, and the former, of Mary’s assumption.  But five years later, while much of Europe still lay in ruins, on November 1, the feast of All Saints, – during one of the church’s periodic holy years – after consulting the bishops and faithful of the world, Pope Pius XII declared “the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven” (Munificenti­ssimus Deus) thus confirming a long-held belief in both the Western and Eastern Church concerning Mary’s share in the mystery of her Son’s resurrection.

            Few people saw the meaning of this declaration more clearly than psycholog­ist, Carl Jung.  Though not himself a Catholic, Jung thought the pope’s action was the most significant religious event since the Reforma­tion.  Why?  Because he saw this doctrine as a “renewed sign of hope for the fulfillment of that yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul” (Answer to Job).

            So like the phoenix rising from its own ashes, Mary’s assumption was a sign to a weary world, that it too could rise again from the destruction of war.  And the timing was indeed perfect.  For the symbol of the assumption was needed at just that moment to counteract the other great symbol of that period: the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and later Nagasaki.  Mary’s assumption was a stunning contrast to the image of atomic bombs exploding, as was the Lord’s transfiguration, the image that would haunt the period of the Cold War.  By contrast, the glorified body of the Lord, presaged by the transfiguration, along with the glorified body of Mary, both shine forth the final destiny of human beings and the true goal of human history: the total transforma­tion of our lives by the power of God.

            So in the middle of a century that changed the world forever by unleashing a power never seen before, the church reminded us of another power: the power at work in Mary, God’s lowly servant, for whom the Almighty One has done great things (G). And whereas human power in the last century exposed human beings to suffering and death on an unprece­dented scale—a power that still threatens us—God’s power, by contrast, saves.

            This contrast between heavenly and earthly power is described in the Bible where, in the book of Revelation, for example, we hear of a great sign that appeared in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. . . . Then another sign appeared in the sky: it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns (I).

            That Woman and that Dragon represent opposing forces: the Woman symbol­izing God’s people, who are blessed like Mary, because they believe what was spoken to them by the Lord will be fulfilled.  The Dragon, on the other hand, represents the enemies of God’s people, who look to devour and oppress the just with earthly might; enemies whom God will cast down from their thrones (cf. G).

              I trust you know the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish priest whose feast we celebrated yesterday. He opposed the Nazis and what they stood for. When they invaded Poland in 1941, he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz.  While there, a prisoner escaped.  According to Nazi policy, this meant 10 other prisoners would die in retaliation. Fr. Kolbe volunteered to take one man’s place since he had a family. The 10 would die by starvation. While in the death bunker, the gentle priest prayed loud enough so the others could hear and join him, teaching them not to despair as they approached death.

              It all ended two weeks later, on August 14-- the vigil of the Assumption -- when he and three of the other surviving prisoners were finished off with an injection of carbolic acid, their bodies incinerated in the crematoria.  But do you see how the Woman and the Dragon competed? How two forms of power struggled: the lowly servant Mary’s and the prouds’ in their conceit (cf. G)?  And who triumphed?  Look at the sign -- the sign of the Woman’s triumph which hovered over that bunker – in utter contrast to the bunker where Hitler died 4 years later beneath the ashes of Berlin.

            This struggle between the Woman and the Dragon is still at play on the world stage.  It’s never absent. For example, thousands of Catholics in Vietnam stream to the biggest religious event of the year in that communist nation, a crowd church officials estimate can grow to as many as 200,000 people.  Where are they going?  To celebrate Mary’s assumption in a rural area flanked by rice fields – to the spot where a group of persecuted Catholics saw an apparition of the Woman 200 years ago. And as they approach the place, these pilgrims see the brick shell of a church destroyed in 1972 during the Vietnam War.  Then they see a towering statue of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child under some trees.  People approach the statue to touch its hands or kiss its feet while praying for blessings – peace and freedom, no doubt, among them.

            This sort of thing makes the government very nervous, which views religion as a superstition that must be wiped out or as a threat to its own power.  And not just in Vietnam.  According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom's 2020 report, Christians are also persecuted in in Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

            And thus it will be until the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power (II).  Until then, we find hope in the sign of the Woman: the sign Pope Pius showed the world in 1950, the sign persecuted Christians are looking to even as we speak.  It’s a sign for us as well: a sign of triumph over all that oppresses us, whether from shooting sprees that erupt across this nation on a regular basis; or the bondage to addictions of every sort; whether the scourge of racism and poverty or yes, another surge of an insidious virus.  No matter what oppresses us, the sign of the Woman gives hope to all and makes us sing even today: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One (I). Who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen!

Creed

 

Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

Let us pray to God through Christ, the firtsfruits of the resurrection, whose victory of life we celebrate in the assumption of the Virgin Mary.

For the church whose future glory is prefigured in the Virgin Mary: Like her, may God’s people magnify the Lord and bear Christ to the world.

For the world that longs to be free from war, terrorism and death: May Christ put all these enemies under his feet and far from our lives.

For innocent lives devoured by the greed and violence of the powerful: May their cause be championed by all who belong to the kingdom of God.

For believers who work to transform our society: May they strive to lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things.

For those who have felt the sting of death and mourn the loss of loved ones: May the promise of immortality and the love of the community sustain them.

For those who assist expectant mothers in need, as Mary assisted Elizabeth: May they inspire us all to mutual charity and make our hearts leap for joy.

For us who proclaim the victory of Christ’s resurrection: May we, like Mary, be blessed for believing the fulfillment of God’s promises.

For the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, who celebrate today the anniversary of their foundation, that through the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians and Mother of Mercy, they might remain faithful to the charism and mission bequeathed to them by their founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

For those who have gone to their rest with faith in Christ’s resurrection: May Christ come to reign in them and destroy death for ever.

 Faithful to your promise, O God, you have lifted up the lowly, clothing with heavenly splendour the woman who bore Christ, our life and resurrection. Grant that the Church, prefigured in Mary, may bear Christ to the world and come to share his triumph. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen (ICEL; 1998).

Interlude (John Michael Talbot)

 

I found my Beloved, in the mountains

On the lonely and far and distant isles;

Over resounding waters, I hear the whispering

Of love's breezes, to heal my heart.

Oh tranquil evening, silent music;

And the sounding solitude, of the rising dawn;

It is there that I hear You, there that I taste of You

In love's banquet, to fill my heart.

And I found Your footprints in the sand, by the sea;

And like Your maiden, I ran along the way

To a secret chamber...

And there You gave to me, there You taught me, oh so well

And I drank of Your sweet spiced wine, the wine of God.

And there I gave to You, keeping nothing for myself

There I promised You, forever, to be Your bride.

And I found Your footprints, in the sand, by the sea

And like Your maiden, I ran along the way

To a secret chamber...

So, I have abandoned, all I ever sought to be;

And in dying, my spirit has been released.

Lord’s Prayer

As on the day of Pentecost, we pray in the company of Mary, in the words Jesus taught.....

Spiritual Communion

Lord, you have promised to raise up those who eat your flesh and drink your blood.  On this day when we celebrate the fulfillment of those words in the person of your Mother, though unable to eat and drink at your table, we trust nevertheless that we will share in her triumph on the last day for you have indeed bestowed upon us, even now, the gift of eternal life.

Thanksgiving

 

Closing Hymn (John Michael Talbot)

 

Come my love, pass through my will
As through a window
Shine on my life as on a meadow
Like the grass to be consumed
By the rays of the sun
On a late summer's morning

Come my love, all through the night
I lay longing eagerly to wait for love's union
Like dawn's flower awaits
for the wedding with the sun
Consummated in the light

Your light, my love is stealing my heart
As a secret I'm left
Like a vanishing form that leaves no shadows
Exposed, naked, alone between
The heavens and the earth
Lifted high on the cross with the Savior

Oh life-giving tomb
Prepared through the night for dawn's dying
Like a womb, like the mansions of Heaven
Await the rebirth of a child, New Jerusalem
So come to my life, light of Heaven

Come my love, pass through my will
As through a window
Shine on my life as on a meadow
Like the grass to be washed
In the rays of the sun
On the late summer's morning

Postlude (Libera)

 

Ave Maria, gratia plena
Sancta Maria gratia
Ave Maria, mater Dei
Maria, ora pro nobis
Maria, pro nobis

Ave Maria, mater Dei
Maria, ora pro nobis
Maria, pro nobis
Ora, ora
Ora pro nobis

Ave maria, gratia plena
Sancta Maria gratia
Ave Maria, mater Dei
Maria, ora pro nobis


Maria, pro nobis.

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