15 AUGUST: THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
The gloriﬁcation of Mary
INTRODUCTION AND CONFITEOR
Today we celebrate the glorification of Mary. the humble maid of Nazareth. It is because she once shared the life, passion, and death of Christ that she now shares his glory.
We too are called to share in the glory of Christ, but we must first of all share in his life and death. Mary, our mother, will help us in moments of weakness, discouragement, and failure. [Pause]
Let us confess our sins to God, asking Mary and all the saints to intercede for us.
I confess to almighty God ….
HEADINGS FOR READINGS
First Reading (Apocalypse 11: 19-12:1-6.10). As the mother of the Saviour, Mary was at the very centre of the struggle between the powers of evil and the powers of good. However, God took special care of her and her child.
Second Reading (1 Cor 15:20-26). Christ is the new Adam who undoes all the harm done by the old Adam. (The Church has long seen Mary as the new Eve who undoes the harm done by the old Eve).
Gospel (Luke 1:39-56). Mary had no doubt about the importance of the role she had been given by God. However, she gave all the credit and glory to God.
Just as on the feast of the Ascension we celebrate the crowing of Jesus, so on the feast of the Assumption we celebrate the crowning of Mary, his mother. We know that we owe our redemption to the sacrificial death of Jesus. Still, we must not forget the part that Mary played in the drama of our salvation. Without her there would not have been a Saviour. We love and honour her not just because she is the mother of Jesus, but because of what she has done, and still does, for us.
The Comanche Indians moaned aloud to God: ‘0 Great Spirit’, they said, ‘our land is dying for the want of rain, and we are dying too. Tell us what we have done wrong that has made you angry with us. Tell us what we must do so that you will send rain once more and restore life to our land’. For three days the people prayed this prayer. Then they waited, but no rain came. The children and the old people began to die.
Among the children was a little girl by the name of Miriam. She watched her elders as they prayed. In her lap she held a blue warrior doll which she treasured above everything else. But she was very sad because all her family and friends were dying one by one.
Then the wise men of the tribe went into the hills to listen to the wind which carried the voice of God. After many days they returned, gathered the people together, and delivered a message to them.
They said that the drought had been caused by the selﬁshness of the people. For years they had taken from the earth but given nothing back. They must offer a sacrifice to God, All must make a burnt offering of their most valued possession. They were to scatter the ashes over the land, and then the rain would come, and life would return to the earth.
The people thanked God for the message. But when they went home and looked at their most valued possession they hesitated, and began to make excuses. Instead of sacrificing their most valued possession,- they sacrificed something else in its place. Meanwhile little Miriam had been watching all this. Then it suddenly dawned on her, as the last child left alive, that a sacrifice was being asked of her too. So one night, while everybody was sleeping, she crept out of her camp. Taking the doll with her together with a lighted stick, she made her way to the top of the hill. There she said to God: ‘O Great Spirit, I want to do my part so that life will return to our land. I don’t have much. All I have is this doll. But I want you to take it. I’m offering it for my people’. With that she set fire to the doll. With tears in her eyes she watched it turn into ashes. Then she gathered the ashes into her hand and threw them into the air so that the wind scattered them over the land. Then she fell asleep right there on the hilltop.
Next morning she awoke, sat up, and looked over the land. As far as she could see, the ground was covered with blue ﬂowers. The people were delighted when they saw what had happened. They got the message at once. Feeling ashamed at their selﬁshness, each got out the treasure they had been guarding so carefully, sacrificed it, and scattered the ashes over the land. Once again they began to pray to God, and this time he answered. Soon a gentle rain started to fall. On seeing it, they embraced little Miriam who had shamed them into doing what God had asked of them. Then they all started to dance for joy. ‘
This delightful little story will help us to understand the role of Mary, and help us to appreciate why the Church honours her on this day. First of all, God himself honoured her. It was through the sacrifice of Christ, her Son, that God’s forgiveness, peace, and love rained down on our earth and brought life to us. But Mary played a vital role in that sacrifice. She consented to bring him into the world. She loved him tenderly and valued him above every other possession. But when the salvation of her people demanded that she sacrifice him, she did so most generously.
Mary made a gift to God, not only of her Son, but of herself. Through her God has done marvels for our earth. No wonder then that ‘all generations call her blessed’. Today we honour her crowning in heaven, which means that she shares the fullness of Christ’s glory. It is a day for joy and celebration. She will shame us into being more generous in following her Son, and in sacrificing what we hold dear so as to bring life to others. In this way we can confidently hope to share in her glory and in the glory of Jesus.
‘There is no greater happiness than sacrifice’. (Dostoyevsky).
‘None have a right to speak until they have made a personal sacrifice’. (Albert Camus).
PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL
On this joyful day let us pray for ourselves, for the Church, and for the world. R. Lord, hear our prayer.
For Christians: that Mary may inspire in them a greater generosity in following Christ. [Pause] Let us pray to the Lord.
For all the human family: that all of God’s children may share in the fruits of Christ’s redemption. [Pause] Let us pray to the Lord.
For all those who are poor, humble, and lowly like Mary was: that God may raise them up like he raised her. [Pause] Let us pray to the Lord.
That we may realise that in Mary we have a mother who loves us as her own children. [Pause] Let us pray to the Lord.
For local needs.
Let us pray:
Gracious Lord, in offering you these petitions we pray that your mercy may reach from age to age as you come to the help of your people. Through Christ our Lord.
Dorthy Day was a great American Catholic.
One day a rich woman walked into her centre for the poor,
and donated a diamond ring.
What should she do with it?
She could sell it.
It would fetch enough money
to keep the centre in food for a month.
That afternoon she gave the ring to a poor woman
who often came to the centre for her meals.
When one of her helpers protested,
saying that it was a waste, Dorthy replied:
‘Do you think that God made diamonds only for the rich?’
Mary acknowledged her poverty before God,
and he enriched her.
‘The Almighty has done great things for me;
holy is his name’, she said.
Mary will help us to be poor and humble,
open and trusting before God,
so that he can enrich us,
and we too will sing his praises.