Wednesday, August 15, 2007

FEAST DAY: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This feast day is one of my favorite things about being Catholic: Mary is a person, honored and loved, a mother. We fulfill her prophecy in Luke when she said in the Spirit, "All generations will call me blessed." She is not, to us, just a womb-for-rent - she is the one chosen from all the rest, chosen before the dawn of time, to be the mother of our Savior.

Mary was a person of great importance in the newborn Church, the first follower of Christ. It is speculated that she gave birth to Jesus somewhere between the ages of fourteen and eighteen and that she died when she was in her early sixties. The common thought is that she left Jerusalem with St. John well before the Jews were scattered in the diaspora; evidence has pointed to the fact that she went with him to Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey.

A house has been excavated there - an ancient house with an altar built into it, discovered under very unusual circumstances. The first church there was called St. Mary's, named during a time when churches could only be known as St. Somebody-or-Other's if the saint had either lived in the town where the church was built, or if a relic of the saint was enshrined at the church.

Since Mary was assumed into heaven, we don't have any relics. It is part of the dogma of the Catholic faith that she, like Enoch and Elijah before her, was taken up to heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit, not under her own power as Jesus did, which would be an ascension. We know this to be the truth because of the absence of a grave, among other reasons; the early Christians wouldn't have lost track of Mary or buried her somewhere that was later abandoned. The Church has always taken Mary's unique position as the mother of our Redeemer very seriously.

The Assumption of Mary. Photo credit: EWTN

The Feast of the Assumption is one of my favorite holy days. I love thinking about the reunion Jesus and Mary had in heaven; how happy they both must have been to know that they'd never be parted again.

No comments: