Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On this our liturgical remembrance of Our Lady’s birthday, it is apt to recall what Saint Andrew of Crete, preached: 

This is the highest, all-embracing benefit that Christ
has bestowed upon us. This is the revelation of the mystery, this is the emptying-out
of the divine nature, the union of God and man, and the deification of the
manhood that was assumed. This radiant and manifest coming of God to men most
certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to
us. The present festival –the nativity of the Theotokos– is that prelude, while
the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin
is born, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, that
God who is the universal King of all the ages!

Birth of Mary DGhirlanaio.jpg

With the choirs of saints and angels,

Let the Church be joined as one,

Binding earth to highest heaven,

Praising Jesus, Mary’s Son

Son of God-the Father’s glory

Who took flesh that we might be

Reconciled, reborn, forgiven,

From the pow’r of sin set free!

On this solemn, joyful feast day

Let us sing a song of praise,

Thanking God for Mary’s witness

Faithfully kept all her days.

From her birth to blessed Anna,

Mary listened to God’s word,

And, when summoned by the angel,

Lived in faith what she had heard.

Glory now to God the Father,

Who has made us for his own;

Glory now to Christ our Savior,

Who has raised us to his throne;

Glory now to God the Spirit,    

Who renews us in his grace: 

Laud and honor, never ceasing,  

Be to God from all our race!

J. Michael Thompson

Copyright © 2009, World Library Publications 

87 87 D; PLEADING SAVIOR, or IN BABILONE

A closer look at the promise of the Assumption

Assumption Maronite icon.jpg

Christianity holds forth a surprising happiness and promise of joy. It describes and offers a mystery of life that is full and forever. The magnificent Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated on August 15 proclaims the deepest and most profound of these Christian mysteries and promises. Virgin Mary–  the Bearer of God who was the first and best disciple of her Son– lived a long life in the presence of God. She experienced a resurrection after falling asleep in death (called Dormition) and a transport to Heaven (called   Metestiseen, Assumption). Remarkably, this is the joy that lies in wait for all other disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ whose bodies will rise at the end of time and be with God in Heaven forever.

Let us examine the details of the Assumption of Our Blessed Virgin Mary in the tradition and legend of the event of her falling asleep and transport to Heaven as found in the icon and liturgy of the ancient Church. At the beginning, understanding that God entered into the human realm to stamp out death and bring life without end to humanity, we see this believing young Hebrew mother as the first person since Adam and Eve to experience realization of God’s full life … herself receiving life without end both physically and spiritually in unity with God the Creator, a glory forever and ever.At the end of time, all those judged to be living in the presence of God, who is Life Eternal, will also receive this remarkable eternal gift.  

 

The spiritual powers receive her with honors due to God, and she who is truly the mother of Life departs unto life, the lamp of Light which no man can approach, the salvation of the faithful and the hope of our souls. (The Feast of Dormition, Great Vespers, Lete, Tone 2*). 

Cry out, O David, and tell us, what is this present feast about which you sang in the book of Psalms? And David says, “Christ has carried up into the heavenly mansions her who bore Him without seed. I sang of her in the Psalms calling her ‘daughter, bride of God and virgin’. Therefore, mothers, daughters and brides of Christ, rejoice and call out, “Hail to you, O Lady, who have been translated to the Kingdom on high.” (Orthros [Morning Prayer], Sessional Hymns after the First Reading from thePsalter, Tone 4*).  

  

Wherefore, O most pure Mother of God, forever alive with your Son, the Source of Life, do not cease to intercede with Him that He may guard and save your people from every trouble, for you are our intercessor. (Vespers, Tone 8 before the Entrance*).

Father Stephen Bonian, S.J.

A Maronite Jesuit priest serving the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Assumption Fra Angelico.jpg

Song For Our Lady’s Assumption

As the tower of David art thou,             O Mary,
And in thee there is no flaw,
How beautiful and lovely art thou in the adorning,
And the odor of thy ointments
Is like the fragarance of Libanus,
Above all perfume…..

Like a dove brooding over swelling waters,
Like vials that pour out perfumed oil,
Like lilies distilling their fragarance,
Like the golden vessels of Tharsis,
Like the choice Libanus and the cedar tree,
Like fair tall columns of marble
Set upon bases of gold, art thou, O Mary!

How beautiful and how lovely!

(The Mozarabic Liturgy, Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God’s Mother and Mine. Poughkeepsie, NY: Marist
Press, 1946.)

Mary, the hope and solace of a searching people of God

With First Vespers for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in view –it is now the beginning of the vesperal light and the Church gathers to pray her evening prayers– thoughts turn to salvation in Christ and the meaning of Mary for us. She is the indeed the hope and comfort of the serious and pilgrim Christian. The great Mother of God shows us that the promises of God are true, reasonable and worthy of hope in this world and for life in the next. It is from her that we know the Second Person of the Trinity, it is her ‘yes’ to the Will of God that the great lie told of and to all humanity disappears.The Father of the Second Vatican Council point us in a direction:

 

Theotokos1.jpg“In the interim just as the Mother of Jesus, glorified in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected is the world to come, so too does she shine forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come,as a sign of sure hope and solace to the people of God during its sojourn on earth.

 

“It gives great joy and comfort to this holy and general Synod [Vatican II] that even among the separated brethren there are some who give due honor to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour, especially among the Orientals, who with devout mind and fervent impulse give honor to the Mother of God, ever virgin. The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints, until all families of people, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. (Lumen Gentium, 68-69)

Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major

St Mary Major Basilica.jpgA few times a year the Church’s sacred Liturgy observes a liturgical memorial of a church’s dedication and today is one of those observances. When you get down to brass tax we don’t glorify a building but the action of the Blessed Trinity in the lives of believers.

The point of Catholic dogma affirmed with the building of this Marian basilica is that Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos) defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431. This dogma keeps the orthodox Christian’s faith Christ-centered, especially in matters of worship. The Church holds: “From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, in whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation, according to her own prophetic words: ‘All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things to me'” (Lumen gentium, 66)
Our prayer at Mass today is:
Lord, pardon the sins of Your people. May the prayers of Mary, the mother of Your Son, help to save us for by ourselves we cannot please You.
Saint Mary Major is the oldest church in Rome dedicated to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the worship of the Trinity situated on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. The construction of the basilica began following a promise of the benefactors (a Roman patrician), a dream of Pope Liberius and the presence of snow on the spot where the church was to be built on this date on an extraordinarily hot day in August in the 4th century. Pope Sixtus III consecrated the the church in 435. Hence, the Saint Mary Major is often called the Liberian Basilica or Saint Mary at the Snows or Saint Mary of the Crib. The holy crib that held the baby Jesus is retained there.
Today we call the Basilica of Saint Mary Major together with Saint Peter’s (on Vatican Hill), Saint John Lateran and Saint Paul outside the Walls Papal (patriarchal or pontifical) basilicas. That is, these churches are directly connected with the ministry of the Pope and the altar in each of theses 4 churches is reserved for the exclusive use of the Pope to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass; there are times in which the Pope gives permission to a visiting cardinal or a patriarch of an Eastern Church to celebrate at his altar.
Some have designated the four papal basilicas in this way as way of keeping in mind the proclamation of the Gospel and the work of salvation wrought by Grace and the work of the Apostles:
Saint John Lateran recalls the See of Rome
Saint Peter’s recalls the See of Constantinople
Saint Paul outside the Walls recalls the See of Alexandria
Saint Mary Major recalls the See of Antioch.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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