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Aug 15th Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholics celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast day recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the mother of Jesus Christ from the earth, when both her soul and her body were taken into the presence of God.
Venerable Pope Pius XII confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as the perennial teaching of the Church when he defined it formally as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, invoking papal infallibility to proclaim, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
His Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” (Most Bountiful God), which defined the dogma, contained the Pontiff’s accounts of many longstanding traditions by which the Church has celebrated the Assumption throughout its history. The constitution also cited testimonies from the early Church fathers on the subject, and described the history of theological reflection on many Biblical passages which are seen as indicating that Mary was assumed into heaven following her death.
Although the bodily assumption of Mary is not explicitly recorded in Scripture, Catholic tradition identifies her as the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation 12:1. The passage calls that woman’s appearance “a great sign” which “appeared in heaven,” indicating that she is the mother of the Jewish Messiah and has “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
August – month dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The month of August is dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary. August is often considered the transitional month in our seasonal calendar. It is the time of the year we begin to wind-down from our summer travels and vacations and prepare for Autumn — school, work, harvest time, etc. The Church in her holy wisdom has provided a cycle of events in its liturgical year which allow the faithful to celebrate the major feasts in the life of Christ and Mary. In August, we celebrate the Transfiguration and the Assumption.
St. Bernard has a beautiful passage in his Missus Est homily, in which he conveys the efficacy of Mary’s intercession – his reflection on Mary as “Star of the Sea”:
“She, I say, is that shining and brilliant star, so much needed, set in place above life’s great and spacious sea, glittering with merits, all aglow with examples for our imitation. Oh, whosoever thou art that perceiveth thyself during this mortal existence to be rather drifting in treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking on firm ground, turn not away thine eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wish to be submerged by the storm! When the storms to temptation burst upon thee, when thou seest thyself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look at the star, call upon Mary. When buffeted by the billows of pride, or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look at the star, call upon Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of thy soul, look at the star, call upon Mary. If troubled on account of the heinousness of thy sins, distressed at the filthy state of thy conscience, and terrified at the thought of the awful judgment to come, thou art beginning to sink into the bottomless gulf of sadness and to be swallowed in the abyss of despair, then think of Mary. In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name leave thy lips, never suffer it to leave thy heart. And that thou mayest more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, see that thou dost walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, thou shalt never go astray; whilst invoking her, thou shalt never lose heart; so long as she is in thy mind, thou shalt not be deceived; whilst she holds thy hand, thou canst not fall; under her protection, thou hast nothing to fear; if she walks before thee, thou shalt not grow weary; if she shows thee favor, thou shalt reach the goal.”