Message from Fr. Mike
August 15 is the Celebration of Victory and Hope.
The celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this year, is the celebration of survival, victory, and hope.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that simply states that Mary, the mother of Jesus, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” The Roman Catholic Church is not the only one that celebrates this Solemnity. To a lesser degree, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Church of the East, Lutheran and Anglo-Catholics do. It enjoys some form of universality.
Historically, this celebration had its origin in the Byzantine Empire around the sixth century. It began as an annual feast honoring Mary, but it gradually grew into a commemoration of Mary’s death, called the feast of Dormition (“falling asleep”). As the practice spread to the West, emphasis was placed on Mary’s resurrection and the glorification of her body and soul. Hence, the name of the feast was changed to the Assumption. The Assumption of Mary was made an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.
Some have criticized this dogma, and consequently this celebration, for its lack of biblical foundation. What critics tend to forget is that the idea of assumption (taken up) is not without biblical precedence. The Bible does record God “assuming” both Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2Kg 2:11) into heaven. Therefore, it is not impossible that God would have done the same with Mary.
In addition, Pope Pius XII pointed to Genesis 3:15 as scriptural support for the dogma in terms of Mary’s victory over sin and death, as also reflected in 1Cor 15:54. This is to say, this Solemnity is the celebration of victory over death. Mary overcame death. In today’s context, it is a victory over the pandemic. While we are not completely out of the reach of this pandemic, we can, for now, celebrate our survival and victory. This Sunday, like Mary, we celebrate the great things “The Mighty One has done for us” (Lk 1:49). We survived by the grace of God.
In his encyclical, “Munificentissimus Deus,” Pope Pius XII emphasized Mary’s unity with her divine son. She is the mother of Jesus, as well as the mother of his church which is His body; and by her assumption has attained the final bodily resurrection promised to all Christians. Resurrection and unity with Jesus Christ are the final goal of our Christian pilgrimage. This is our ultimate hope.
We are community of victory and hope. This weekend we celebrate our hope and victory over this pandemic. The breakfast we share in the school parking lot is the symbol of our victory and survival. After each victory, people normally gather to talk about the struggle or the war. We gather, this Sunday, to share our struggle with Covid-19. In the Mass, we will sing songs of both victory and hope, with Mary as our model. We have not done this in the last two years. We thank God for the opportunity to celebrate it this year.
Fr. Mike Ume
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