Mother of the Church
Monday Night at the Movies
King of Kings, 1961
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
John, Chapter 7, verse 13:
Still, no one spoke openly about him because they were AFRAID of the Jews.
The people were divided over Jesus, and he was either loved or hated. Even today you must decide to follow Christ or follow the world for there is no middle ground.
Building up the Kingdom
Scripture and the Church teach us that we have three divinely ordained purposes that give our lives meaning:
1. Salvation — seeking to save our eternal souls and help save the souls of others (that salvation, the Church teaches, is God's free gift but requires our cooperation through faith in God, obedience to his commandments, and repentance of our grave sins).
2. Service — using our God-given talents to build God's kingdom here on earth.
3. Sanctity — growing in holiness.
The third of these life goals, sanctity, is central to building Catholic character. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says something that is stunning: "Be thou made perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). St. Gregory put it this way: "The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God." Scripture tells us, "God is love" (1 Jn 4:16). If we want to be like God, our vocation is to love. The essence of love is to sacrifice for the sake of another, as Jesus did. Love is self-gift. What, then, is our goal if we want to develop Catholic character in our children and ourselves? Look to the character of Christ: A life of self-giving.
The high goal of Christ-like character builds on a base of what the Church calls "natural virtues." Among the natural virtues that families and schools should nurture are the four advanced by the ancient Greeks, named in Scripture (Wis 8:7), and adopted by the Church as "the cardinal virtues": prudence, which enables us to judge what we should do; justice, which enables us to respect the rights of others and give them what they are due; fortitude, which enables us to do what is right in the face of difficulties; temperance, which enables us to control our desires and avoid abuse of even legitimate pleasures. These natural virtues are developed through effort and practice, aided by God's grace.
To develop a Christ-like character, however, we need more than the natural virtues. We also need the three supernatural, or "theological," virtues:
1. Faith in God, which enables us to believe in God and the teachings of his church.
2. Hope in God, which leads us to view eternal life as our most important goal and to place total trust in God.
3. Love of God, which enables us to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.
The three theological virtues are considered supernatural because they come from God and have as their purpose our participation in God's divine life. As the Catechism (1813) teaches, the theological virtues are not separate from the natural virtues; rather, they "are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character." The Catholic writer Peter Kreeft points out, "The Christian is prudent, just, courageous, and self-controlled out of faith in God, hope in God, and love of God." The supernatural virtues, like the natural virtues, grow stronger through our effort and practice, in cooperation with God's grace.
Instruction on Intemperance
“Be sober and watch.” I. Peter v. 8.
St. Peter prescribes sobriety and watchfulness as necessary means for resisting the attacks of the devil, who by day and night goes about seeking whom he may devour. Woe to those who, by reason of their drunkenness, (The term drunkard applies to any person who is caught up in the addiction cycle, whether it is drink, gambling, drugs or sex.) live in a continual night and lie in the perpetual sleep of sin! How will it be with them if, suddenly awakened from this sleep by death, they find themselves standing, burdened with innumerable and unknown sins, before the judgment-seat of God? For who can number the sins, committed in and by reason of drunkenness, which the drunkard either accounts as trifles, easily pardoned, or else, not knowing what he has thought, said, and done in his fit of intoxication, considers to be no sins at all? Will the divine Judge, at the last day, thus reckon? Will He also find no sin in them? Will He let go unpunished the infamous deeds and the scandals of their drunkenness? He Who demands strict account of every word spoken in vain, will He make no inquiry of so many shameful, scandalous, and blasphemous sayings, of so much time wasted, of so much money squandered, of so many neglects of the divine service, of the education of children, of the affairs of home, and of innumerable other sins? Will they be able to excuse themselves before this Judge by saying that they did not know what they were doing? Or that what they did was for want of reflection, or in jest? Or that they were not strong, and could not bear much? Will not such excuses rather witness against them that they are the worthier of punishment for having taken more than their strength could bear, thereby depriving themselves of the use of reason, making themselves like brutes, and, of their own free will, taking on themselves the responsibility for all the sins of which their drunkenness was the occasion? What, then, awaits them? What else than the fate of the rich glutton who, for his gluttony, was buried in hell? (Luke xvi. 22.) Yes, that shall be the place and the portion of the drunkard! There shall they in vain sigh for a drop of water. There, for all the pleasures and satisfactions which they had in the world, as many pains and torments shall now lay hold of them (Apoc. xviii. 7); there shall they be compelled to drain the cup of God’s anger to the dregs, as they, in life, forced others into drunkenness. This is what they have to hope for, for St. Paul says expressly that drunkards shall not possess the kingdom of God (i. Cor. vi. 10). What then remains for them but to renounce either their intemperance or heaven? But how rare and difficult is the true conversion of a drunkard! This is the teaching of experience. Will not such a one, therefore, go to ruin?
Reflect on your use of TV, internet, media, food, etc.; alcohol is only one form of intemperance-keep your heart free of all that tarnishes love.
This feast 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.
In the Introit of the Mass the Church invites us to universal joy by singing, “Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating this festival in honor of the most blessed Virgin Mary, on whose assumption into heaven the angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King.
Pardon, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy servants, that we, who are not able to please Thee by our deeds, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of Thy Son. Amen
EPISTLE. Ecclus. xxiv. 11-20.
In all things I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord. Then the Creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and He that made me rested in my tabernacle. And He said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy in heritance in Israel, and take root in My elect. From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress-tree on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose-plant in Jericho: as a fair olive-tree in the plains, and as a plane-tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon, and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh.
GOSPEL. Luke x. 38-42.
At that time Jesus entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard His word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast Thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Why does the Church read this gospel to-day?
Because it readily admits of being applied to Mary, the Mother of God, since she, far more worthily and lovingly than Martha, chose the best part, and thereby obtained the most glorious reward, which no one shall ever take from her.
What is the one thing necessary?
The glory of God and the salvation of the soul. Let a man, therefore, fulfil the duties which are binding upon him; but in so doing let him look only to God, avoid all uneasiness and distraction, all extravagance and excess, all that is unjust, and sooner sacrifice everything than suffer injury to his soul.
Assumption of Mary The day that the mother of God was assumed body and soul into heaven and crowned Queen
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.
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.
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.
· 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.
· The Directory on Popular Piety talks about the deep significance of this feast day. It also refers to the custom of blessing herbs:
o In the Germanic countries, the custom of blessing herbs is associated with 15 August. This custom, received into the Rituale Romanum, represents a clear example of the genuine evangelization of pre-Christian rites and beliefs: one must turn to God, through whose word "the earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seeds in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds" (Gen 1, 12) in order to obtain what was formerly obtained by magic rites; to stem the damages deriving from poisonous herbs, and benefit from the efficacy of curative herbs.
o This ancient use came to be associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in part because of the biblical images applied to her such as vine, lavender, cypress and lily, partly from seeing her in terms of a sweet-smelling flower because of her virtue, and most of all because of Isaiah 11, 1, and his reference to the "shoot springing from the side of Jesse", which would bear the blessed fruit of Jesus.
· In an age of sensuality and materialism the Assumption points out the dignity and destiny of our human body, extols the dignity of womanhood, and turns our eyes to the true life beyond the grave. At Mass today ask Mary for the grace to keep your mind fixed on things above and to aspire continually to be united with her and to be brought to the glory of the Resurrection.
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.
Our Lady’s 30 Days
In pre-Christian times the season from the middle of August to the middle of September was observed as a period of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the successful harvest of grains. Many symbolic rites were aimed toward assuring man of prosperous weather for the reaping of the fall fruits and for winter planting. Some elements of these ancient cults are now connected with the feast and season of the Assumption. All through the Middle Ages the days from August 15 to September 15 were called "Our Lady's Thirty Days" (Frauendreissiger) in the German-speaking sections of Europe. Many Assumption shrines even today show Mary clothed in a robe covered with ears of grain. These images (Maria im Gerteidekleid, Our Lady of Grains) are favored goals of pilgrimages during August. Popular legends ascribe a character of blessing and goodness to Our Lady's Thirty Days. Both animals and plants are said to lose their harmful traits. Poisonous snakes do not strike, poison plants are harmless, wild animals refrain from attacking humans. All food produced during this period is especially wholesome and good and will remain fresh much longer than at other times of the year. The fact that herbs picked in August were considered of great power in healing occasioned the medieval practice of the "Blessing of Herbs" on Assumption Day. The Church thus elevated a popular belief of pre-Christian times into an observance of religious import and gave it the character of a Christian rite of deep and appropriate meaning. In central Europe the feast itself was called "Our Lady's Herb Day" (Kräutertag in German, Matka Boska Zielna in Polish). In the Alpine provinces the blessing of herbs is still bestowed before the solemn service of the Assumption. The city of Wurzburg in Bavaria used to be a favored center of these blessings, and from this fact it seems to have received its very name in the twelfth century (Würz: spice herb). The Roman Ritual still provides an official blessing of herbs on Assumption Day which, among other prayers, contains the petition that God may bless the medicinal powers of these herbs and make them mercifully efficient against diseases and poisons in humans and domestic animals. The Eastern Rites have similar blessings. In fact, the Syrians celebrate a special feast of "Our Lady of Herbs" on May 15. Among the Armenians, the faithful bring the first grapes from their vineyards to church on Assumption Day to have them solemnly blessed by the priest. Before breakfast the father distributes them to his family. No one would dream of tasting the new harvest before consuming the first blessed grapes on Our Lady's Day.
Blessing of Herbs and Fruits for the Feast of the Assumption
The Church "baptized" an old pre-Christian belief in the great healing power of herbs picked in August by instituting a ritual for the blessing of herbs and fruits on the Feast of the Assumption. Since that time, Christians from both East and West have blessed herbs and fruit on the Feast of the Assumption in the belief that these sacramentals provide protection against harm and danger. But this custom also hearkens back to the Hebrew observance of the harvest, and more importantly, it teaches us something about our Lady's role in the economy of salvation. Eve foolishly used herbs (fig leaves) to hide and aggravate her sin, thereby bringing about a disorder of body and soul (Gen. 3.7). By contrast, Mary, the new Eve whose soul and body are untouched by sin or the decay of death (as we celebrate on this day), foreshadows a healing of our corporeal frailties, a healing represented by herbs.
Likewise, fruits are an appropriate symbol for the new Eve because she never ate of the forbidden fruit but brought forth only the fruit of good works and, most importantly, the Fruit of her womb, Jesus Christ. The blessed fruit thus betokens the fruit of a holy and generous life which we are called to enjoy from our Lord through the patronage of His mother. In any case the solemn blessing of herbs and fruits on this day became so popular that in central Europe August 15 was simply called Our Lady's Herb Day. Usually, these blessings would take place before Mass and would involve whatever was brought by the congregation to the church. Afterwards the herbs would be kept for medicinal use while the fruit would be served at dinner. The following is one of the special blessings from the Roman ritual that is used for herbs and fruits on Assumption Day:
O God, who by Moses Thy servant didst command the children of Israel to carry their sheaves of new fruits to the priests for a blessing, to take the finest fruits of the orchards, and to make merry before Thee, the Lord their God: Kindly hear our supplications, and pour forth the abundance of Thy blessing upon us and upon these sheaves of new grain, new herbs, and assortment of fruits, which we gratefully present to Thee and which we bless on this feast in Thy name. And grant that men, cattle, sheep, and beasts of burden may find in them a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, injuries, spells, the poison of snakes, and the bites of other venomous and nonvenomous creatures. And may they bring protection against diabolical illusions, machinations, and deceptions wherever they are kept or carried, or with whatever arrangement is made of them: that with sheaves of good works and through the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose Feast of the Assumption we celebrate, we may deserve to be lifted up to heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God unto endless ages. Amen.
The blessing of herbs and fruits has also led to the lovely custom of giving and receiving baskets of fruit on the Feast of the Assumption, a custom which was especially popular in Sicily.
Blessing of Nature
August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and just as Mary's assumption into heaven signifies her purity of body and soul, so too does it remind us of her freedom from the curses of the Fall, such as having to live by the sweat of one's brow on a land that yields only thorns and thistles (Gen. 3.18,19). It is perhaps for this reason that the Feast or the Octave of the Assumption was a favorite time for blessing the scene of man's labors, especially those related to the production of food. In Western Europe, for example, fields would often be blessed by the parish priest, while in America and Latin countries Assumption Day is traditionally the occasion for blessing the fishing fleets of coastal towns. Also tying into this theme of nature is the German and Austrian time Mary is invoked for assistance or thanked for the autumn harvest of grains. This period lasts from Assumption Day until September 15, the Feast of the Seven custom of Our Lady's Thirty Days (Frauendreissiger), during which Sorrow of the Blessed Virgin. Legend states that nature is particularly benign during this time: snakes do not bite, wild animals do not attack, and food picked within the thirty days is especially wholesome. Finally, parts of England and Ireland observe Our Lady's Health Bathing, where bathing in rivers, lakes, the ocean, or any natural body of water is considered particularly good for one's health.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
Article 4-THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
I. What is This Sacrament Called?
1423 It is called the
sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to
conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has
strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
1424 It is called the
sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest
is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a
"confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and
of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."
It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."
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 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.