Tag Archives: Assumption

Assumption of Mary, Mother of God


Virgin in Glory GBellini.jpgIn the Ascension, the Lord, with His Resurrection, has
become the Master of the World. Therefore, there is One among us who will save
everything that we are, who is so powerful as to save our life, as to preserve
it entire in order to give it back to us whole by forgiving our sins. The
demonstration of this is the mystery of the Assumption, when He took Our Lady’s
humanity and did not leave her in the clutches of death even for an instant.


With
the mystery of the Assumption, the Lord says, “You see, I will not let you lose
anything of what I have given you, of what you have used, of what you have
tasted, even of what you have misused, if you are humble with me. Blessed are
the poor in spirit, that is to say: if you acknowledge that everything is
grace, that everything is mercy, because your criteria are nothing, my
criterion will be everything.” Our Lady is already at this ultimate, profound
level of Being from which all beings draw substance, life, and destiny. This is
why she was bodily lifted into heaven, where the Mystery of God dwells: so that
she would be for us, daily, the Mother of the event.


The glorification of Our
Lady’s body indicates the ideal of Christian morality, the valuing of every
moment, every instant. Therefore it is the prizing of life, of our existence,
the life of the world’s body, it is the exaltation of matter lived by the soul,
lived by the consciousness which is relationship with God. It is the prizing of
our earthly life, not because it is a lucky one due to particular
circumstances, but because through even the smallest things is borne our
relationship with the Infinite, with the mystery of God


(Luigi Giussani, The
Holy Rosary)

The Assumption (Dormition) of the Blessed Virgin Mary – a period of fast


Dormition of the BVM, french unknown master.jpgAugust 1 through 14 is a period of fasting in the
Byzantine churches in preparation for the feast of the Dormition of the
Theotokos (Assumption) on August 15.  


Unfortunately, we in the Roman Church have lost the Assumption fast, but we continue to bless herbs and flowers on this solemnity.


It is truly right to bless you, O
Theotokos, as the ever-blessed and immaculate Mother of our God. More honorable
than the cherubim, and by far more glorious than the seraphim, ever a virgin, you
gave birth to God the Word; O true Theotokos, we magnify you!

“Dostojno je.”

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

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)

Assumption/Dormition fast

Death of the Virgin Caravaggio.jpgThose Christians who are not Orthodox –as in, Orthodox Christians or Eastern Orthodox or some version of this– are likely not to be aware that today begins the traditional time of fasting in preparation for the great feast of the of the Assumption (if you are Catholic) or Dormition (if you are Orthodox) of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Theotokos), the all-holy Mother of God. In fact, the Churches of East and West are called upon to prepare for the yearly festival of our Lady by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Sound familiar? Indeed, the 3-point spiritual discipline is identical with Lent and Advent.

The period of fast I am speaking of today is a period of time that ought to be understood as training ourselves to be spiritually vigilant. That all of us, no matter of Church membership, should be attentive to and practice fasting so that our hearts and mind and bodies are opened up to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Put another way, by fasting what could the Lord be offering us to know and love and live? Our prayerful vigilance for the feast of the Assumption/Dormition ought to be rekindled by Catholics because the practice opens us up to God’s grace. Whether a Catholic takes on 14 days of fasting or something more modest it is a personal choice. But do something! And while I can’t guarantee much, I can say that if we are faithful to the spiritual practices of the Church they will give us new eyes of faith, the eyes of the beatitudes, a new mentality with which to assess the world in which we live today. That is, to look with the same mercy and openness that God has for us due to the Incarnation.

The Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrate the same event, Mary’s departure from earth, but each call the event by a different name. The Orthodox say that Mary died a natural death as any human being would, that her soul was received by her Son, Jesus, and on the third day her body was resurrected but didn’t suffer bodily corruption. Catholicism says Mary was assumed by God’s own power like that of Elias, into heaven body and soul at the moment of death. Catholic dogma defined by the Church leaves it an open question as to whether Mary died (see Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950).
At any rate the Christian Churches of East and West up until today celebrates this significant feast of the Mother of God liturgically and has done so since the early years following the Council of Ephesus (431). Some point to the Jerusalem liturgical practices of the burial services of the Virgin as imitating those done on Good Friday for Jesus. The point is that the Assumption/Dormition feast is prepared for by a period of fasting, preparing the whole person to receive anew the Paschal Mystery wrought by Mary.

The period of fast lasts until August 14th. Remember, the Assumption/Dormition feast is the same solemn feast observed by both the Eastern and Western Churches but with different emphases depending on the Church that you belong to. But one should note that this fast has a stricter sense than even that of the Nativity and Apostles’ fasts.

The Orthodox Church’s rules for fasting can be found here and if you are Catholic it might be a good idea to consider some time in prayer and fasting as a path to celebrate the Marian feast of the Assumption or Dormition on August 15th.
PS: The Assumption is my most favorite of Marian feasts!

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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