These days I hear so many people saying to me: “I can’t believe it is already mid-August. I can’t believe the summer is almost over and the children will be back in school.” They are right. When we are having fun, time flies by almost imperceptibly. Einstein once said: “When you are having a good time with your girlfriend or spouse, two hours seem like ten minutes; but, when you are sitting on a hot oven, ten minutes seem like an eternity.” That was his simple explanation of the Theory of Relativity.
As we are still in vacation mode, on August 15th we are celebrating a very important Marian feast – the feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother. It is an ancient feast that was celebrated in the first centuries even in places as far away as India. In fact the St Thomas Christians who claim to have received the gospel from the Apostle Thomas insist that early Indian Christians prepared for the feast with a fast. Even though the Assumption of Mary into heaven was believed to be true in the Church through the centuries, it was declared an article of faith only in 1950. This year as the feast falls on a Monday, it is not a Day of Obligation.
In proclaiming this dogma of faith, Pope Pius XII wrote:
The Fathers of the Church, the great Doctors, in the sermons they preached on the feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God, had as their theme a doctrine which all the Christian world already knew and accepted; it was for them to elaborate it, to bring out the essential meaning of it, beyond what lay on the surface. To say that the body of the Blessed Virgin never knew decay was not to exhaust the meaning of this solemnity. What we celebrated was the triumph she won over death when she was glorified, after the pattern of her only Son Jesus Christ in heaven.
As you know, every Marian feast is a reminder of what we are called to be. It is true that Mary is, in the words of a poet, “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” However, even as we look up to her as the most exalted of our human race, we should recognize in her our own sublime vocation. She is not only our mother and protector; she is our model. If we can imitate her example, we will be guaranteed the same reward that she received.
The feast of the Assumption is all about obedience and fidelity. Since Mary said “Yes” to God at the annunciation and remained faithful to God throughout her life, God rewarded her by assuming her into heaven body and soul. If we remain faithful to God and carry out His will in our lives, the same God will recompense us in the same way. Too often all of us love to be Frank Sinatra who sang “My way!” We mistakenly think that we will be happy by having our own way rather than by submitting to God’s will. Mary teaches us that genuine happiness and authentic holiness arise from obeying God’s will.
When I was a young seminarian, we used to sing a Marian hymn entitled, “It all began with Mary.” The crowning chapter of God’s salvation history certainly started with Mary. If we begin with Mary, we will certainly end well. As we are about to begin another busy year, let us begin with Mary. As our children return to our Catholic school and to public schools, as our religious education program starts up again, and all our ministries and groups go into high gear, let us begin the year with Mary. Let Mary be our model, our guide and our mother. Let all the families nurture devotion to our Blessed Mother and teach our children to place their confidence in her. Let the recital of the family rosary become a regular habit. Let St Paul of the Cross be known as a parish that loves and honors the Mother of God!
As we are about to begin another scholastic year, I invite all families and all parents to invoke Mary, our Mother. Let us implore her to intercede for us so that we will have a peaceful and fruitful year. Let us ask her to bless our children and young people. Let us begin the year just as she began the last chapter of the history of salvation – by submitting ourselves completely to God’s design.
May God bless each and every one of you! Please support our Catholic school and our religious education program. Ask your children to become an active member of our Teen Ministry. Do keep our parish family in your prayers. I pray for you in all my Masses.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...