Sr Anne Phibbs CBS
The feast-days of the church are not just commemorations of historical events. They also give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady on 15 August, which we celebrate in New Zealand on Sunday 14 August, gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended. The prayer for the feast-day reads: ‘All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory’.
Not only do we ask to share Mary’s glory in the future but we ask her protection in the here and now, asking Mary’s protective mantle to cover those entrusted to her. Being under the protection of a mantle was well-known in mediaeval times and in Celtic folklore. Like the cloak a mantle was worn for protection from weather or cold. Being ‘under Mary’s mantle’ placed friends and loved ones under Mary’s protection. How appropriate, then is it for us to place under Mary’s mantle the poor and needy of our own day, in our own country and throughout the world – the homeless, the working poor, the refugees, those who are trafficked and exploited, those suffering injustice.
A mantle is also used to signify the taking on of a new role, as in ‘assuming the mantle’. This new ‘taking on’ implies the culmination of a period of change, transformation, renewal, birth and rebirth. Inspired by the joy of the gospel and the unfolding of Divine revelation, we are invited at this time to a continuing conversion of mind, heart and spirit. This demands an engagement with the new challenges of our contemporary world.
The Feast of the Assumption
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven was the bodily taking up of Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
The Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary ‘having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory’. This doctrine was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on 1 November 1950, in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus, by exercising papal infallibility.
Source: Catholic Online
Holy Day of Obligation
The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated in New Zealand this year on Sunday 14 August.