20160815 Feast of the Assumption

Writings as early as the second and third century and the Council of Ephesus in 431 confirm that the early Church believed in the Assumption of Mary.  Deacon Michael Bickerstaff wrote: “Testimony from sources, such as the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 451 A.D., reveal the accepted belief that no relics of Mary existed because she had been assumed, body and soul, into heaven; and that this belief came from apostolic times.”  The Assumption is the oldest of the Marian feasts in the Liturgical Calendar.

We as Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary was born without sin.  If Mary was born without sin, then it is natural for us to believe in the Assumption of Mary.  It is original sin that makes our bodies decay.  Without sin, Mary’s body would not decay.  Jesus, her son, wanted her to be with him because of the special relationship he had with her as his Mother.  Mary was the first to be assumed, body and soul, into the glory of heaven after Jesus’ Resurrection.

Because of this, Mary became a great intercessor on our behalf.  She is there to plead to her Son for our needs and the needs of the world.

Elizabeth asked Mary how it was that she was honored by the presence of the Mother of my Lord?  We heard Our Blessed Mother’s response from today’s Gospel.  It is frequently referred to as the Magnificat.  For those who pray evening prayer, it is recognized as the Canticle of Mary.  A canticle is a hymn, chant or song that is taken from biblical texts that are not from one of the Psalms.

What is the Magnificat or Canticle of Mary?  It is a prayer that our Blessed Mother prayed.  There are three prominent themes in this prayer.  First, Mary glorifies God for his blessings.  Then she emphases how God honors those who are humble.  Finally, Mary reminds us that God always takes care of his people as he promised from the beginning of time.

It is a good model for us in our prayers.  We start by thanking God for his many blessings to us.  We must always remember that God provides everything that we possess.  We acknowledge that we serve Christ through the kindness and respect we give to others.  It is only through our unselfish service to others that we serve Jesus.  The last theme is the most difficult – the promise that God will take care of us.  It is difficult for us to accept this promise when we are in the mist of life’s troubles and trials.  But the promise is there for us to receive and believe.

Through prayer, we find comfort and peace in a troubled world.  Fr. John Riccardo, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Plymouth, Michigan, was dismayed by the turmoil of the election politics, the terrorist acts of ISIS and the violence in America between police and protestors.  He asked his parish to fast and pray for our nation on Wednesday, then pray a Rosary in the evening and end by receiving the Eucharistic.

How often we ask Mary to intercede for us.  We frequently do this by praying the Rosary.  We know that she will hear us our prayers and be our intermediary with her Son.

I ask you to join me:  Hail, Mary, full of grace …..

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