August 15, 2016 Feast of the Assumption

Hebrews, Chapter 10, Verse 31
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Mary shows us how the just live by faith. Although she was literally the mother of God she did not count herself equal to God. Although throughout her life she lived in poverty she was generous to a fault. Although a mother and wife she was chaste to her spouse the Holy Spirit. Let us ask her to intercede for us that we may never dread to fall into the hands of the living God. As Mary said, “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” (Lk. 1:50)

The Feast of the Assumption is so called because on this day, according to a very old and pious belief, the Blessed Virgin was, in body and soul, taken up into heaven. This feast is of very great antiquity it was fixed on the 15th of August at the request of the Emperor Maurice, and afterwards, by Pope Leo IV was extended to the whole Church.[1]

Processions[2] Most likely the oldest and certainly the highest annual feast day of Mary, the Feast of the Assumption is held in both east and west as a day of great solemnity. Processions would wind their way either through cities and towns in order to publicly honor Mary or through fields in order to pray for God's blessing upon the harvest. Marian hymns would be sung and statues of the Blessed Virgin carried. In some places there would even be a dramatic representation of the mystery of the assumption. The statue of Mary would be carried through town to an elaborate arch of flowers symbolizing the gate of Heaven. From here another statue, a statue of Christ, would greet "her" and conduct her to the church as a symbol of her entrance into eternal glory. The procession would then conclude with Benediction.

Traditionally Roman Catholics believe Mary, the Virgin mother of Jesus, never physically died and instead ascended into heaven. Mary, as the mother of God, is believed by some Christian faiths to have lived a life without sin. Some early-church theologians believed that since she and Christ were both without sin that Mary must have raised bodily to heaven just as Christ was.  This belief began the feast of the Assumption of Mary.[3]


Assumption of Mary Facts


·         The Assumption of Mary isn't in the Bible.  The theology it is based upon is from several early church documents and sermons.  The Orthodox Church continued the tradition, but it didn't become doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church until 1950 when Pope Pius XII declared the belief infallible.
·         Thomas was the only disciple who purportedly saw Mary's ascension into heaven.  In a reversal of his story in scripture, the other disciples didn't believe him at first.  Mary dropped her girdle when she reached heaven, and Thomas caught it.
·         The Feast of the Assumption of Mary is a high feast Day in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.  The day venerates the assumption into heaven of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is held on August 15.  In the Orthodox tradition, the feast, called the Dormition of the Theotokos, is held the same date, although the day may be later for churches that follow the Gregorian calendar.
·         Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, and guide us on the way that leads to Heaven. - Pope Francis on the Feast of the Assumption via twitter on Aug 15, 2013.

Assumption of Mary Top Events and Things to Do

·         Attend an Orthodox Church during the Feast of the Assumption to see the blessing of flowers.
·         Historically, both flowers and herbs are brought to church as offerings or to be blessed during the Feast of the Assumption.  Start an herb garden or plant some bulbs to bloom in spring in honor of Mary.
·         The Assumption of Mary is a popular subject in Christian art.  One of the most famous is The Assumption of the Virgin, by El Greco and available for viewing in the Art Institute of Chicago.  See if your local art museum has paintings of the Assumption.
·         Sing or Listen to a rendition of "Ave Maria".  One of the more popular renditions is by Luciano Pavarotti.
·         Many faithful in the Orthodox Church will also be breaking a two-week fast after the service honoring the Assumption of Mary.  If you are fasting attend a community meal offered by many Orthodox Churches.



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