A little something for Mary…

…on today’s Solemnity, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (this year moved to today because of the 2nd Sunday of Advent). This is my most favorite setting of the Ave Maria, and I love how Franz Biebl set a portion of the Angelus text with its Hail Marys. I hope you enjoy this one of many online recordings of this gorgeous work.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

assumption window

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on August 15 is a solemnity in the life of the Church. You may remember that a solemnity is our most important type of feast.  In the dioceses of the United States, it is a Holy Day of obligation.  More that you just “have to go” to Mass, you should want to go to Mass. Do we really have that much else to do that we cannot find a Mass to go to today?  Mary is the example of perfect obedience and trust in God, and we could do well always to learn from her example.

For those that pray the rosary regularly, when you get to this mystery, you might say, “the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into heaven.”  The Assumption is not simply celebrating that Mary went to heaven.  (Of course she did!)  Let’s look at what the Catechism teaches in this regard:

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (CCC 966)

Mary’s assumption into heaven is a foreshadowing of our life in heaven to come, hopefully the resurrection of all Christians.  We can point to scriptural evidence to support this belief.  Some key places are chapter 12 of the book of Revelation, Genesis 3:15, Corinthians 15:54, other letters of Paul, and Psalm 132  as evidence of Mary’s victory over sin and death.  Here is verse 8 of Psalm 132: “Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.”  The Church understands the ark of the New Covenant to be Mary, taken body and soul to her resting place.

The Assumption is a dogma of the Catholic Church, proclaimed in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.  However, there is much evidence of this belief from as early as the third and fourth centuries, and it was celebrated by Christians as early as the fifth century.

 

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

 

 

*As a side note, I am blessed to be in a parish under the patronage of our Blessed Mother. The above image is one of our stained glass windows (I apologize for the quality, taking them on my phone). The first image is the window depicting the Assumption, so you will note the inscription “Definita 1950 Pio XII.” The image below is a portion of the window depicting the crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.

queen of heaven window

 

 

Saints

saints and martyrs

In my last entry, we looked at what the Catechism teaches about the Lord’s Day: Sunday is the most important day of the week, the celebration of the Christ’s Paschal mystery.  The liturgical year is structured in such a way that throughout the Sundays and Solemnities of the year, the entire mystery of Christ is unfolded for us.  Another way of exploring the Paschal mystery of Christ throughout the year is through the “Sanctoral cycle,” that is, the memorials of the lives of the Saints.  The Catechism (no. 1173) teaches us:

“When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those ‘who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ.  She proposes them to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God’s favors.’”

I may have mentioned here before, and we should remember, that as Catholics, we do not “worship” or “adore” the saints.  Worship is reserved for, and due to, Almighty God alone.  We do, however, venerate the saints.  This means that we acknowledge our respect for this particular person, and that we hold them as an example of how to live the Christian life. Saints are people that we know are in heaven.  Some people, and some other Christian groups, may say that honoring a saint, or even a statue of a saint, is worshipping a false idol.  This is not what we are doing.  We are not making that person into a god, but we are saying that they honored God by their life, and we wish to follow their example.  By contemplating an image or praying in front of a statue, we are asking for help in leading good Christian lives, just as that person lived.  Pre-eminent among the saints is our Blessed Mother, Mary, a perfect example of how to answer God’s call to holiness.

When we ask a Saint for their intercession, we are asking, believing that they are in heaven, for them to be an advocate for us to Christ.  In the Litany of Saints, we sing the name of a Saint followed by “pray for us.”  This means “pray to God for us.”  It’s like having a friend go whisper in His hear, because you know this friend is in “good-standing”, so to speak. In the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), one of the many awesome titles we give to Mary is “most gracious Advocate.”  There’s nothing wrong with praying to Jesus, and also asking His mother to go ask Him for help, too.  After all…what happened at the Wedding at Cana?

Is there a particular saint that you ask for intercession on your behalf?  Who do you wish to emulate?  Who is your patron saint?

Mary, Mother of the Church

Image

 

May is known as the month of Mary. While Mother’s Day is not a religious holiday, but a secular observance, today we show appreciation for both our earthly mothers and Mary, who is our heavenly mother.

One of the titles for Mary is Mother of the Church. We give her this name because, by being the mother of Christ, we consider her also to be the mother of all of those who are members of Christ’s body. We learn about this further in both the Catechism (no. 963) and in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, no. 53):

“The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. (…)She is the mother of the members of Christ, having cooperated by charity that faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head. (…) The Catholic Church, taught by the Holy Spirit, honors her with filial affection and piety as a most beloved mother.”

Let us today honor both our earthly mothers, for their response of “yes” to God in their gift of life to us, and also honor Mary the Mother of the Church for her example of faith in God and gift of life to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, pray for us!

And to my awesome earthly mother: I love you so much, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!!