Assumption of Mary and Independence Day in India




  Opening:

O God, our creator, you have made this world out of love and gathered us together as one family. Today we wish to thank you for Mary whom you freed from earthly bondage into your heavenly glory. Today 67 years ago you freed our Mother Land from foreign occupation. We thank you for all that is beautiful in India that we are proud of. Bless every citizen of our country that s/he may work for peace, prosperity and true freedom. Strengthen our hands that we may truly build and not destroy hearts and hopes, homes and future for your children.


Concluding Prayer:

O Lord, light of the East! You are the dispenser of India's destiny. Your name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravida, Orissa and Bengal. It echoes in the hills of Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of the Indian Sea. They pray for your benediction and sing your praises. We wish to fulfil in our longings and in our prayer of faith the age long aspirations of our country: lead us from the unreal to the real; from darkness to light; from death to immortality. Today and forever. Amen.

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali – Indian Poet 
 Where The Mind is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert
sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my
Father, let my country awake
 
Reflection:

Free from and free for (I make myself free) and free in the law (I have come to fulfil the law, obey those who sit on the seat of Moses, and yet Sabbath is for man…). Toothache, thief when arrested, a policeman stopping you at the junction gives you the freedom of your life. Harvard University Professor: to do what we want vs. wanting what we do (have to do). Obeying natural laws and state laws …

-       Freedom: not license – I am free to do whatever I want as long as no one gets hurt
-       Freedom: not option – an ability to shop at a place of my choice – individual rights
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For Christians in India, August 15 marks two important celebrations. The Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven and Independence of India. These twin celebrations, but remind us of one great truth of liberation. India’s soul has been craving for liberation from falsehood to reality, from darkness to light, from death to everlasting life. All these became feasible and real for every human being with the resurrection of Jesus, who is the way, the truth and life. And Mary, the mother of Jesus, was privileged to be the first human being to enter into the promised glory with Jesus. Mary is crowned the queen of heaven and earth, a shining star of true liberation
India became a nation on August 15, 1947. The glorious past of India as the greatest nation in the world politically, religiously and economically was obliterated by 200 years of British occupation. However, the spirit of the nation was incarnate in the man called Mahatma Gandhi, who restored the pride of mother India through the path of non-violence and self-sacrifice. This great man drew inspiration from the Gospel. Every Indian Christian has reason to be proud of Mother Mary and Mother India.

Assumption of Mary

Though the Church has always believed in the Assumption of Mary, the dogma was only formally defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950 in his Bull Munificentissimus Deus. Mary was assumed into Heaven -- taken up by the power of God, like Elias and Enoch -- while Christ ascended into Heaven under His own power
The date of Mary's Assumption is placed from anywhere between 3 and 15 years after Our Lord's Ascension, and the place from which she was assumed is listed as Jerusalem, though some claim Ephesus as the proper place. St. John Damascene (John of Damascus, A.D. 676 - 754/787) writes: St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, that Mary died in the presence of the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven. (Sermon II on the Dormition of Mary, By St. John Damascene (John of Damascus), (A.D. 676 - 754/787).
St. John Damascene continues:

Today the holy Virgin of Virgins is presented in the heavenly temple. … To-day the sacred and living ark of the living God, who conceived her Creator Himself, takes up her abode in the temple of God, not made by hands. David, her forefather, rejoices. Angels and Archangels are in jubilation, Powers exult, Principalities and Dominations, Virtues and Thrones are in gladness: Cherubim and Seraphim magnify God. Not the least of their Praise is it to refer praise to the Mother of glory. To-day the holy dove, the pure and guileless soul, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, putting off the ark of her body, the life-giving receptacle of Our Lord, found rest to the soles of her feet, taking her flight to the spiritual world, and dwelling securely in the sinless country above.
“Today the spotless Virgin, untouched by earthly affections, and all heavenly in her thoughts, was not dissolved in earth, but truly entering heaven, dwells in the heavenly tabernacles. Who would be wrong to call her heaven, unless indeed he truly said that she is greater than heaven in surpassing dignity? The Lord and Creator of heaven, the Architect of all things beneath the earth and above, of creation, visible and invisible, Who is not circumvented by place (if that which surrounds things is rightly termed place), created Himself, without human co-operation, an Infant in her. He made her a rich treasure-house of His all-pervading and alone uncircumscribed Godhead, subsisting entirely in her without passion, remaining entire in His universality and Himself uncircumscribed. To-day the life-giving treasury and abyss of charity (I know not how to trust my lips to speak of it) is hidden in immortal death. She meets it without fear, who conceived death's destroyer, if indeed we may call her holy and vivifying departure by the name of death. For how could she, who brought life to all, be under the dominion of death ? But she obeys the law of her own Son, and inherits this chastisement as a daughter of the first Adam, since her Son, who is the life, did not refuse it. As the Mother of the living God, she goes through death to Him. For, … how shall she, who received the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or finite vicissitudes, not live for ever. …. shall not paradise receive her, who broke the bondage of all passion, sowed the seed of obedience to God and the Father, and was the beginning of life to the whole human race ? Will not heaven open its gates to her with rejoicing ? Yes, indeed.
How could Limbo open its gates to her ? How could corruption touch the life-giving body ? These are things quite foreign to the soul and body of God's Mother. Death trembled before her. In approaching her Son, death had learnt experience from His sufferings, and had grown wiser. The gloomy descent to hell was not for her, but a joyous, easy, and sweet passage to heaven. If, as Christ, the Life and the Truth says: "Wherever I am, there is also my minister," how much more shall not His mother be with Him? …. More than precious is the passing away of God's Mother. Now let the heavens and the angels rejoice: let the earth and men be full of gladness. Let the air resound with song and canticle, and dark night put off its gloom, and emulate the brightness of day through the scintillating stars. The living city of the Lord God is assumed from God's temple, the visible Sion, and kings bring forth His most precious gift, their mother, to the heavenly Jerusalem, that is to say, the apostles constituted princes by Christ, over all the earth, accompany the ever virginal Mother of God.
How, then, was she assumed to the heavenly courts? In this way. What were the honours then conferred upon her by God who commands us to honour our parents? The cloud which enclosed Jerusalem as with a net, by the divine commands, brought together eagles from the ends of the earth, those who are spread over the world, fishing for men in the various and numerous tongues of the spirit. …. Eye-witnesses, then, and ministers of the word were there, duly ministering to His Mother, and drawing from her a rich inheritance, as it were, and a full measure of praise. … Their followers and successors also were there, joining in their ministry and in their praise. A common labour produces common fruits. A chosen band from Jerusalem were there. It was fitting that the foremost men and prophets of the old law, they who had foretold God the Word's saving birth of her in time, should be there as a guard of honour. Nor did the angelic choirs fail. They who obeyed the king heartily and consequently were honoured by standing near Him, had the right to serve as a body-guard to His Mother, according to the flesh, the truly blessed and blissful one, surpassing all generations and all creation. All those were with her who are the brightness and the shining of the spirit, with spiritual eyes fixed upon her in reverence, and fear, and pure desire.
Then Adam and Eve, our first parents, opened their lips to exclaim, "Thou blessed daughter of ours, who hast removed the penalty of our disobedience! Thou, inheriting from us a mortal body, hast won us immortality. Thou, taking thy being from us, hast given us back the being in grace. Thou hast conquered pain and loosened the bondage of death. Thou hast restored us to our former state. We had shut the door of paradise; thou didst find entrance to the tree of life. Through us sorrow came out of good; through thee good from sorrow. How canst thou who art all fair taste of death ? Thou art the gate of life and the ladder to heaven. Death is become the passage to immortality. O thou truly blessed one! who that is not the Word could have borne what thou hast borne?"
The apostles and all the assembly of the Church may well have addressed some such words to the blessed Virgin. When they saw the Mother of God near her end and longing for it, they were moved by divine grace to sing farewell hymns, and wrapt out of the flesh, they sighed to accompany the dying Mother of God, and anticipated death through intensity of will. When they had all satisfied their duty of loving reverence and had woven her a rich crown of hymns, they spoke a parting blessing over her, as a God-given treasure, and the last words. These, I should think, were significant of this life's fleetingness, and of its leading to the hidden mysteries of future goods
This, it appears to me, is what they did at once and unanimously. The King was there to receive with divine embrace the holy, undefiled, and stainless soul of His Mother on her going home. And she, as we may well conjecture, said, "Into Thy hands, O my Son, I commend my spirit. Receive my soul, dear to Thee, which Thou didst keep spotless. I give my body to Thee, not to the earth. Guard that which Thou wert pleased to inhabit and to preserve in virginity. Take to Thyself me that wherever Thou art, the fruit of my womb, there I too may be. I am impelled to Thee who didst descend to me. Do Thou be the consolation of my most cherished children, whom Thou didst vouchsafe to call Thy brethren, when my death leaves them in loneliness. Bless them afresh through my hands." Then stretching out her hands, as we may believe, she blessed all those present, and then she heard the words "Come, my beloved Mother, to thy rest. Arise and come, most dear amongst women, the winter is past and gone, the harvest time is at hand. Thou art fair, my beloved, and there is no stain in thee. Thy fragrance is sweeter than all ointments." With these words in her ear, that holy one gave up her spirit into the hands of her Son.
What happens? Nature, I conjecture, is stirred to its depths, strange sounds and voices are heard, and the swelling hymns of angels who precede, accompany, and follow her. Some constitute the guard of honour to that undefiled and immaculate soul on its way to heaven until the queen reaches the divine throne. Others surrounding the sacred and divine body proclaim God's Mother in angelic harmony. What of those who watched by the most holy and immaculate body? In loving reverence and with tears of joy they gathered round the blessed and divine tabernacle, embracing every member, and were filled with holiness and thanksgiving. Then illnesses were cured, and demons were put to flight and banished to the regions of darkness. The air and atmosphere and heavens were sanctified by her passage through them, the earth by the burial of her body. Nor was water deprived of a blessing. She was washed in pure water. It did not cleanse her, but was rather itself sanctified. Then, hearing was given to the deaf, the lame recovered their feet, and the blind, their sight. Sinners who approached with faith blotted out the handwriting against them. Then the holy body is wrapped in a snow-white winding-sheet, and the queen is again laid, upon her bed. Then follow lights and incense and hymns, and angels singing as befits the solemnity; apostles and patriarchs acclaiming her in inspired song.
When the Ark of God, departing from Mount Sion for the heavenly country, was borne on the shoulders of the Apostles, it was placed on the way in the tomb. First it was taken through the city, as a bride dazzling with spiritual radiance, and then carried to the sacred place of Gethsemane, angels overshadowing it with their wings, going before, accompanying, and following it, together with the whole assembly of the Church.
Then they reached the most sacred Gethsemane, and once more there were embracings and prayers and panegyrics, hymns and tears, poured forth by sorrowful and loving hearts. They mingled a flood of weeping and sweating. And thus the immaculate body was laid in the tomb. Then it was assumed after three days to the heavenly mansions. The bosom of the earth was no fitting receptacle for the Lord's dwelling-place, the living source of cleansing water, the corn of heavenly bread, the sacred vine of divine wine, the evergreen and fruitful olive-branch of God's mercy. And just as the all holy body of God's Son, which was taken from her, rose from the dead on the third day, it followed that she should be snatched from the tomb, that the mother should be united to her Son; and as He had come down to her, so she should be raised up to Him, into the more perfect dwelling-place, heaven itself. It was meet that she, who had sheltered God the Word in her own womb, should inhabit the tabernacles of her Son. … It was fitting that the body of her, who preserved her virginity unsullied in her motherhood, should be kept from corruption even after death. She who nursed her Creator as an infant at her breast, had a right to be in the divine tabernacles. The place of the bride whom the Father had espoused, was in the heavenly courts. It was fitting that she who saw her Son die on the cross, and received in her heart the sword of pain which she had not felt in childbirth, should gaze upon Him seated next to the Father. The Mother of God had a right to the possession of her Son, and as handmaid and Mother of God to the worship of all creation. The inheritance of the parents ever passes to the children. Now, as a wise man said, the sources of sacred waters are above. The Son made all creation serve His Mother.
Let us then also keep solemn feast today to honour the joyful departure of God's Mother. O people of Christ, let us acclaim her today in sacred song, acknowledge our own good fortune and proclaim it. Let us honour her in nocturnal vigil; let us delight in her purity of soul and body, for she next to God surpasses all in purity. It is natural for similar things to glory in each other. Let us show our love for her by compassion and kindness towards the poor. For if mercy is the best worship of God, who will refuse to show His Mother devotion in the same way? She opened to us the unspeakable abyss of God's love for us. Through her the old enmity against the Creator is destroyed. Through her our reconciliation with Him is strengthened, peace and grace are given to us, men are the companions of angels, and we, who were in dishonour, are made the children of God. From her we have plucked the fruit of life. From her we have received the seed of immortality. She is the channel of all our goods. In her God was man and man was God. What more marvellous or more blessed? I approach the subject in fear and trembling. With Mary, the prophetess, O youthful souls, let us sound our musical instruments, mortifying our members on earth, for this is spiritual music. Let our souls rejoice in the Ark of God, and the walls of Jericho will yield, I mean the fortresses of the enemy. Let us dance in spirit with David; to-day the Ark of God is at rest. With Gabriel, the great archangel, let us exclaim, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Hail, inexhaustible ocean of grace. Hail, sole refuge in grief. Hail, cure of hearts. Hail, through whom death is expelled and life is installed" . Let us then make our memory serve as a storehouse of God's Mother.
 
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Fr. Jude Botelho:

The first reading from the Book of the Apocalypse conveys its message through the medium of extraordinary visions and dreams. The description of a ‘woman clothed with the sun’ is imagery linked to a goddess in classical antiquity. Traditional commentaries identify her as Mary the new Eve, but she could also stand for Wisdom personified, the heavenly Jerusalem, or the Church. She also stands for Israel, whose pangs of birth represent the trials to be endured before the coming of the Messiah. The dragon, God’s traditional opponent in the Hebrew Scriptures, is an ancient symbol of chaos and all the forces of evil opposed to God.
In the second reading from the letter to the Corinthians, St Paul, in line with Mary’s representation as the new Eve, refers to Jesus as the new Adam: “just as all men die in Adam, so all are brought to life in Christ.” If the first reading referred to the troubled beginning, the birth pangs, so ‘the end’ will see a responsible son, Jesus, handing over ‘the kingdom’, the world renewed and freed from every oppression, to the Father. Christ is the first fruit of God’s saving action, and after him salvation is assured to all who follow him. On the feast of the assumption, if Mary is seen as the new Eve, then she shares intimately in the fruit of the redemption and so is assumed body and soul into heaven.
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal in India has been described as a “love song in marble.” Completed in 1645, this magnificent marble mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan, India’s Mogul emperor, in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz. Shah Jahan loved her deeply, calling her his Taj Mahal, meaning ‘The Pearl of the Palace.’ But the princess died giving birth to their fourteenth child and the emperor was inconsolable. So he summoned a great architect from Persia to build the Taj Mahal, telling him that it must be ‘the one perfect thing in the world.’ Seventeen years were needed to build this enchanting edifice of gleaming white marble embroidered with flashing jewels. It is an endearing monument to love that still inspires tourists, artists and writers from all over the world. This beautiful love story gives us some idea of how much God must have loved Mary, the mother of Jesus. Today’s feast of her Assumption into heaven is proof of this. By raising her from the dead and taking her into heaven, body and soul, God demonstrated his undying love for Mary. Moreover he did not have to build a Taj Mahal to memorialize Mary. Her own body is itself a magnificent temple of the Holy Spirit.
- Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’
 
Today’s gospel speaks of the visitation of Elizabeth by her cousin Mary. While Mary is the visitor here, she is also the visited. As the Irish theologian Anne Thurston put it so beautifully, Mary is blessed among women because she, like her friend and cousin Elizabeth, is ‘hospitable to God’s visitation.’ In Luke, Mary is the one who hears God’s word, acts upon it and brings forth Christ to the world. From her body is formed the incarnate Son of God, a symbol that the body of every Christian is a bearer of God’s presence. Mary is pronounced to be blessed because she is the mother of the Lord, the first time that word is used of Jesus in the Gospel. We see her not only helping someone who is in need, her aged cousin Elizabeth in the sixth month of her pregnancy, but also saying a beautiful prayer.   Mary’s importance is not limited to giving us hope about the afterlife; she gives every Christian hope in the daily struggles of life because it is the ‘Almighty who has done great things for me.’ She is a woman of the people, whose song delights in God’s choice of her, whose spirit is raised because God has not overlooked his lowly handmaid. For many people Mary’s song the ‘Magnificat’ expresses their hope in the liberating power of God. Mary’s song is revolutionary because it speaks of real and powerful changes that can be brought about in the world when God’s preferences and God’s choices are taken seriously.   She is the mother of all who are oppressed and overlooked and scorned. Mary says that God has dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. This is the beginning of the moral revolution that Christianity has begun and which even today is nowhere near completion. She is the little one, the lowly servant, made great by the choice of God. And the good news is that the same choice is extended to us, to all the lowly by God. Mary asserts that God has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. This is the beginning of the social revolution, again barely begun and certainly not over yet. People talk of the need of respect and care for others, of concern for women and for helping the poor, but so often all this is talked about but little is done in practice. Mary gives us an example of concern by putting herself at the service of a woman in need. She is modeling what Jesus will later embody in himself: a radically new conduct with women and his identification of himself with the lowest of the low.
Call no man worthless….
A story is told of a wandering university student in the Middle Ages. As with many university students in those times when universities were being founded, he traveled to wherever he heard that good teachers were. Also as with many of his fellow students, he was dirty, ill-fed, and ill-clothed. He fell seriously ill and was taken to hospital almost dead. The doctors consulted around his bed. They said his life appeared worthless, and the best use they could put his body to would be medical experimentation. They spoke in Latin not realizing that he was a university student whose classes were in that language. Hearing them, he opened his eyes and said to them in Latin, “Call no man worthless for whom Jesus has died.”
- Harold Buetow in ‘God Still Speaks: Listen!’
 
In the last part of Mary’s song of praise she said that God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. This was indicative of the economic revolution started by Christianity, a revolution hardly begun even today. In today’s world each one thinks only of himself or herself, we look for what we can grab, what we can get. The operative slogan is “What’s in it for me?” Moved by Mary’s example the Christian needs to move the focus from self to others. Christians cannot be comfortable; they need to be disturbed while anybody else is in dire need. In celebrating the feast of the assumption, Mary, the symbol of redeemed humanity has opened a window for us on the radical transformation possible through the power of Jesus. Mary voices God’s opposition to tyranny and his determination to pull down the powers that oppress the needy. It is hardly surprising then that it is the poor that look up to her most for help. “Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, sought thy intercession was ever left unaided…”

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Fr. Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

The Gospel of Jesus and Mary

There is an old story about a workman on a scaffolding high above the nave of a cathedral who looked down and saw a woman praying before a statue of Mary. As a joke, the workman whispered, "Woman, this is Jesus." The woman ignored him. The workman whispered again, more loudly: "Woman, this is Jesus." Again, the woman ignored him. Finally, he said aloud, "Woman, don't you hear me? This is Jesus." At this point the woman looked up at the crucifix and said, "Be still now, Jesus, I'm talking to your mother." Why do Catholics treasure Marian devotions and doctrines that their non-Catholic brothers and sisters do not? It is because, I think, the Catholic Church is trying to tell the full story, to proclaim the full gospel.
But isn't the gospel all about Christ and what he did and taught? Yes and no. The gospel is about Christ in the same way that the story of the Fall is about Adam. "For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:22). That is why we call Christ the new Adam. But as soon as we say that, we become aware of a missing link. The story of the Fall is not only the story of Adam but the story of Adam and Eve. If Jesus is the new Adam, who then is the new Eve? Mary is the new Eve. Just as the full story of our Fall cannot be told without Eve, so also the full story of our Redemption cannot be told without Mary.

There are many revealing parallels between the old Adam and Eve on the one hand and the new Adam and Eve, Jesus and Mary, on the other. Here are some of them.  

-In the old order, the woman (Eve) came from the body of the man (Adam), but in the new order the man (Jesus) comes from the body of the woman (Mary).

-In the old order, the woman (Eve) first disobeyed God and led the man (Adam) to do the same, in the new order the woman (Mary) first said "Yes" to God (Luke 1:38) and raised her son Jesus to do likewise.  

-Adam and Eve had a good time together disobeying God, Jesus and Mary suffered together doing God's will. The sword of sorrow pierced their hearts equally (John 19:34; Luke 2:35b).

-In the old order Adam and Eve shared immediately in the resulting consequences and punishments of the Fall. In the new order, similarly, both Jesus and Mary share immediately in the resulting consequences and blessings of the Redemption, the fullness of life with God; Jesus through the Ascension and Mary through the Assumption.

The doctrine of the Assumption teaches that at the end of her earthly existence, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up (assumed), body and soul, into heaven. That means, therefore, that there are two human bodies we know to be in heaven with God at this time: the human body of Jesus and that of Mary. In this doctrine we see the collaboration of man and woman in the work of our salvation all the way from the Fall to the Redemption to sharing in the fruit of Redemption in heaven. Without the Assumption to balance the Ascension, the man Jesus alone without the woman Mary would be enjoying the fullness of salvation with God and we would be telling only a part of the story. The Assumption is the ultimate proof of the equality of man and woman before God. It also shows the sacredness and eternal destiny of the human body, including the woman’s body which is desecrated by pornography and the sex trade. The Assumption enables us to tell the full story, the full gospel that salvation is for all Men, male and female, and for the whole Man, body and soul.

Marian doctrine and devotion, properly understood and practised, does not lead believers away from, but rather more deeply into, the mystery of Christ. The woman in prayer who thinks that Jesus should keep still because she is talking with his mother has lost sight of the perfect harmony of wills and hearts between Mary and Jesus which we see most clearly in the Wedding Feast at Cana where Mary commands us: "Do whatever he (Jesus) tells you" (John 2:5).

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Creighton Online Ministries: Contemplating The Assumption of Mary

Mary looked over at John writing at his table and smiled. He had always looked so young and the years had not aged him very much. She could understand why Jesus had such a special place in his heart for John, with his gentle ways and his easy love for people.  

She gathered her cloak around her against the cold and closed her eyes as she thought about the many years of her life. So much of it was beyond understanding and yet she believed it and accepted it. She had been given a courage, faith and humility that could only be a gift from God. How else could she have overcome her fears and said "Yes" when Gabriel asked her to be the mother of the Savior? Her son, Jesus, had been a wonder in her life. She had not always understood all of what he did but she knew he had a special role on earth. Their hearts had been bound together in faith and an unbreakable love. She had watched him leave home, teach, heal and challenge the authorities. Her heart had been pierced with such sorrow when he was arrested and tortured and finally put to death. Her faith in the Father had carried her through those days, and the incredible joy-filled days that came after. 

"Imma?" John, said using the most intimate form of "mother." He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "You are so quiet these days." She smiled at him with affection. "Dearest John, my life has been long and I have so much to be grateful for. These years together have been so full."  

It was true. In the weeks after he had risen, Jesus had spoken to them of a new order, a new way of life. She had resisted the urge to cling to him and not let him go again. She had to trust. "I will be with you always," he had said. In her heart, she knew it was true and once again opened her life fully to God's will. She watched with joy as he was taken up into the clouds. In the years that had followed, his message and life had given hope and meaning to a growing number of followers. She had spoken to so many of the disciples and followers in those times.  

Jesus was in her life, too, in a vivid and very real way. She felt his presence with her as she grew tired. She spoke to him from her heart constantly, just as she did when he was on earth. She felt a strong connection that was as unexplainable as it was real. She closed her eyes again in thought. 

"Imma," came the familiar, loving voice. "Blessed are you among women." She knew it was different. She was not in John's house but with Jesus, standing in a place that filled her with a different kind of joy. "My son," she said softly as they embraced. She felt his cheek firmly against hers.  

She did not know how or why. There were no questions and no answers for this. He had promised her she would be with him and the Father. She touched her body in wonder and knew she had been drawn to a different place by power not her own. It was her same body and yet different, more vibrant.  

"You said 'Yes' to the Father's request, Imma," Jesus said to her. "Your life was prepared in a special way and you followed it with such faith. You made my work possible." 

She knew that somehow she was experiencing the resurrection in a way others would have to wait for. As she had so many times before, she paused and opened her heart in prayer. "The Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his Name."

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ASSUMPTION OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

By Fr. Tony Kadavil

 Synopsis: We honor Mary, venerate her, express our love for her and never worship her. Why do we honor Mary: 1) Mary herself gives the most important reason in  her “Magnificat:” “All generations (ages) will call me blessed because the “The Mighty One has done great things for me” a) by choosing  Mary as the mother of Jesus  b) by filling her with His Holy Spirit twice, namely at the Annunciation and at Pentecost, c) by making her  “full of grace,” the paragon or embodiment of all virtues, d) by allowing her to become the most active participant with Christ, her Son, in our redemption, by suffering in mind what Jesus suffered in body. 2) Mary is our heavenly Mother.  Jesus gave us his Mother as our Mother from the cross: “Woman, behold your son.” … “Behold your mother” (John 19: 26-27). 3) Mary is the supreme model of all virtues, especially holiness of life (“full of grace”), obedience to the will of God (“fiat”) and true humility (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you wish”). 

Reasons why we believe in the dogma of Assumption:  Pope Pius XII in the papal document, Munificentimus Deus gives four reasons why we believe in the dogma of assumption of Mary. 1) The uninterrupted tradition about Mary’s death and assumption starting from the first century. 2) The belief expressed in all the ancient liturgies of the Church. 3) The negative evidence of the absence and veneration of a tomb of Mary while most of the apostles have their tombs. 4) The possibility of bodily assumption warranted in the Old Testament in the cases of Enoch (Gen. 5:24), perhaps Moses (Deut. 34:5), and especially Elijah (II Kg. 2:1).5) The theological reasons: a) The degeneration of the body after death is the consequence of “original sin,” and Mary, as “immaculately conceived,” is exempted from the post-mortem decay of the body.  b) As receiver of the fullness of grace and holiness, as mother of Jesus and as co-redeemer, Mary’s place is with her son Jesus, the redeemer, in the abode of holiness, heaven. 

Life messages: 1) As Mary’s Assumption was a reward for a holy life, this feast invites us to keep our bodies pure and holy.  Paul gives three additional reasons: a) our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, b) our body parts are the members of Christ’s body, and c) our bodies are to be glorified on the day of the Last Judgment. 

2)   We are given an assurance of hope in our resurrection and a source of inspiration during moments of despair and temptations. 

3)   We receive a message of total liberation from all our bondages: impure, unjust and uncharitable thoughts, desires, words and actions, addiction to evil habits, drugs, alcohol and gambling, pornography and sexual aberrations.   

Anecdote: # 1: Like is attracted to like.

Such attraction continues to take place every day, even though we may not always be aware of it. People who have similar likes, interests, and goals are drawn to one another. This is the reason why there are fraternities and sororities, why there are country club people, Rotarians, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver, and Daughters of the American Revolution. They all have things in common which draw them together. That is why we also have the Ku Klux Klan, street gangs and the Mafia. Like is attracted to like. Ever notice how children follow along after their mothers? From one room to another, they tag along. And the more they are near their mothers, the more they become like them. They begin thinking, acting, and being like their mothers. We all have in common a very special mother we are honoring today. We have been drawn here together to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, and our mother too, as we recall her Assumption into heaven. If like is attracted to like, does that mean we try to emulate her virtues and imitate her by learning more about her, by honoring her and by celebrating her feasts? (Fr. Jack Dorsel) 

# 2: Carl Jung on the Assumption:

It was in 1950, that the famed Lutheran Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, and an influential thinker, the founder of analytical psychology, remarked that the papal announcement of the Assumption of Mary, in 1950, was "the most important religious event since the Reformation." (Storr, p. 324). The Assumption means that, along with the glorified masculine body of Jesus in heaven, there is also a glorified feminine body of his mother, Mary.  According to Jung, "bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven" (Ibid.) meant that "the heavenly bride was united with the bridegroom," (Ibid., p. 322) which union "signifies the hieros gamos" [the sacred marriage]. (Ibid.) Acknowledging that the Assumption "is vouched for neither in scripture nor in the tradition of the first five centuries of the Christian Church," Jung observes that:  "the Papal declaration made a reality of what had long been condoned.  This irrevocable step beyond the confines of historical Christianity is the strongest proof of the autonomy of archetypal images." (Storr, p. 297). Jung remarks that “the Protestant standpoint . . . is obviously out of touch with the tremendous archetypal happenings in the psyche of the individual and the masses, and with the symbols which are intended to compensate the truly apocalyptic world situation today." (Ibid., pp. 322-323)  Jung added: “Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women.  But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a 'divine' woman. . . .  The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” (Ibid., p. 325)   Quotes from : Jung, C. G.  Modern Man in Search of a Soul.  Translated by W. S. Dell and C. F. Baynes. (Princeton, New Jersey: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, San Diego. 1933); and: Storr, Anthony (Ed.).  The Essential Jung. (Princeton University Press, 1983). 

Introduction: The Feast of the Assumption is one of the most important feasts of our Lady.  Catholics believe in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. We believe that when her earthly life was finished, Mary was taken up, body and soul, into heavenly glory, where the Lord exalted her as Queen of Heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 966).  The Assumption is the feast of Mary’s total liberation from death and decay, the consequences of original sin.  It is also the remembrance of the day when the Church gave official recognition to the centuries-old belief of Christians about the Assumption of their heavenly mother.  In the Orthodox Church, the koimesis, or dormitio ("falling asleep") of the Virgin began to be commemorated on August 15 in the 6th century.  The observance gradually spread to the West, where it became known as the feast of the Assumption.  By the 13th century, the belief had been accepted by most Catholic theologians, and it was a popular subject with Renaissance and Baroque painters.  It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a dogma of Catholic faith.  On this important feast day, we try to answer two questions:  1) What is meant by "Assumption?"  2) Why do we believe in Mary’s Assumption into heaven despite the fact that there is no reference to it in the Bible?  “Assumption” means that after her death, Mary was taken into heaven, both body and soul, as a reward for her sacrificial cooperation in the divine plan of salvation.  “On this feast day, let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Mother, and let us pray to Mary to help us find the right path every day” (Pope Benedict XVI). 
 
Exegesis: Scripture on Mary’s death and Assumption.   Although there  is no direct reference to Mary’s death and Assumption in the New Testament,  two cases of assumption are mentioned in the Old Testament, namely, those of Enoch (Genesis 5: 24) and  Elijah (2 Kings 2:1).  These references support the possibility of Mary’s assumption.  The possibility of bodily assumption is also indirectly suggested by Matthew 27: 52-53 and I Cor. 15: 23-24.  In his official declaration of the dogma, the Pope also cites the scriptural verses Ps 131:8, Cant 3:6, Rev 12, Is 61:13 and Cant 8:5.  
Tradition on Mary’s Assumption: The fact of Mary’s death is generally accepted by the Church Fathers and theologians and is expressly affirmed in the liturgy of the Church.  Origen (died AD 253), St. Jerome (died AD 419) and St. Augustine (died AD 430), among others, argue that Mary’s death was  not a punishment for  sin, but only the result of her being a descendant of Adam and Eve. When Pope Pius XII made the proclamation on November 1, 1950, he put into words a belief held by the faithful for over 1500 years. ‘Way back in AD 325, the Council of Nicaea spoke of the Assumption of Mary. Writing in AD 457, the Bishop of Jerusalem said that when Mary’s tomb was opened, it was "found empty. The apostles judged her body had been taken into heaven.” 

Pope Pius XII based his declaration of the Assumption on both tradition and theology.  The uninterrupted tradition in the Eastern Churches starting from the first century, the apocryphal first century book, Transitus Mariae, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, such as St. Gregory and St John Damascene, supported and promoted the popular belief in the Assumption of Mary.  There is a tomb at the foot of the Mt. of Olives where ancient tradition says that Mary was laid.  But there is nothing inside.  There are no relics, as with the other saints. This is acceptable negative evidence of Mary’s Assumption.  Besides, credible apparitions of Mary, though not recorded in the New Testament, have been recorded from the 3rd century till today.

In his decree on the dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII gives four theological reasons to support this traditional belief.

 #1: The degeneration or decay of the body after death is the result of original sin.  However, since, through a special intervention of God, Mary was born without original sin, it is not proper that God would permit her body to degenerate in the tomb.

 #2: Since Mary was given the fullness of grace, heaven is the proper place for this sinless mother of Jesus. 

 #3: Mary was our co-redeemer, or fellow-redeemer, with Christ in a unique sense.  Hence, her rightful place is with Christ our redeemer in heavenly glory. (The term co-redeemer or co-redemptrix means "cooperator with the Redeemer.” This is what St. Paul meant when he said "We are God's co-workers" I Cor. 3:9.). Hence, it is “fitting” that she should be given the full effects of the Redemption, which is the glorification of the soul and the body. 

#4: In the Old Testament, we read that the prophet Elijah was taken into heaven in a fiery chariot.  Thus, it appears natural and possible that the mother of Jesus would also be taken into heaven. 

Scripture readings of the day: The first and third readings are about women and God’s creative, redemptive and salvific action through them.  The Book of Revelation, written in symbolic language familiar to the early Christians, was meant to encourage them and bolster their faith during times of persecution.  In the first reading, the author of Revelation probably did not have Mary of Nazareth in mind when he described the “woman” in this narrative.  He uses the “woman” as a symbol for the nation and people, Israel.  She is pictured as giving birth, as Israel brought forth the Messiah through its pains. The woman is also symbolic of the Church, and the woman’s offspring represents the way the Church brings Christ into the world.  The dragon represents the world's resistance to Christ and the truths that the Church proclaims.  As Mary is the mother of Christ and of the Church, the passage has indirect reference to Mary. (Navarre Bible Commentary: The description of the woman indicates her heavenly glory, and the twelve stars of her victorious crown symbolize the people of God—the twelve patriarchs (cf. Gen 37:9) and the twelve apostles. And so, independently of the chronological aspects of the text, the Church sees in this heavenly woman the Blessed Virgin, "taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rev 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death” (Lumen Gentium 59). 
 
The second reading, taken from I Corinthians, is Paul’s defense of the resurrection of the dead, an apt selection on the feast of our heavenly Mother’s Assumption into heaven.  In the Magnificat, or song of Mary, given in today’s gospel, Mary acknowledges that “the Almighty has done great things” for her. Besides honoring her as Jesus’ mother, God has blessed her with the gift of bodily Assumption.  God, who has "lifted up" his "lowly servant" Mary, lifts up all the lowly, not only because they are faithful, but also because God is faithful to the promise of divine mercy.  Thus, the feast of the Assumption celebrates the mercy of God or the victory of God’s mercy as expressed in Mary’s Magnificat.  
 
Life messages: #1: Mary’s Assumption gives us the assurance and hope of our own resurrection and assumption into heaven on the day of our Last Judgment. It is a sign to us that someday, through God’s grace and our good life, we, too, will join the Blessed Mother in giving glory to God. It points the way for all followers of Christ who imitate Mary’s fidelity and obedience to God’s will.                                                                                     
#2: Since Mary’s Assumption was a reward for her saintly life, this feast reminds us that we, too, must be pure and holy in body and soul, since our bodies will be glorified on the day of our resurrection.  St. Paul tells us that our bodies are the temples of God because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  He also reminds us that our bodies are members (parts) of the Body of Christ.#3: This feast also gives us the message of total liberation.  Jesus tells us in John 8: 34 that every one who sins is a slave of sin, and St. Paul reminds us (Gal. 5: 1), that, since Christ has set us free, we should be slaves of sin no more.  Thus, the Assumption encourages us to work with God to be liberated from the bondage of evil: from impure, unjust and uncharitable thoughts and habits, and from the bonds of jealousy, envy and hatred.#4: Finally, it is always an inspiring thought in our moments of temptation and despair to remember that we have a powerful heavenly Mother, constantly interceding for us before her son, Jesus, in heaven. The feast of Mary’s Assumption challenges us to imitate her self-sacrificing love, her indestructible faith and her perfect obedience. Therefore, on this feast day of our heavenly Mother, let us offer ourselves on the altar and pray for her special care and loving protection in helping us lead a purer and holier life.