Saturday, August 15th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast day recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the Blessed Mother from earth into heaven. Mary was assumed into heaven—body and soul—at the hour of her death.
Venerable Pope Pius XII confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as the teaching of the Church when he defined it formally as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950. Invoking papal infallibility to proclaim, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” “Papal infallibility” means that the Pope cannot err or teach error when speaking on matters of faith and morals ex-cathedra, or “from the chair” of the Apostle St. Peter—that is, in his role as the supreme teacher of the Church. The dogma of infallibility has been invoked by popes only twice: by Pius IX, in defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin in 1854 (16 years before papal infallibility was defined at Vatican I), and by Pius XII, in defining the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in 1950.
Although not explicitly stated in Scripture, Catholic tradition identifies Mary’s bodily assumption with the “woman clothed with the sun,” described in Revelation 12:1. The verse speaks of a woman’s appearance “a great sign” which “appeared in heaven,” indicating that she is the mother of the Jewish Messiah and has “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Accordingly, Catholic iconography of the Western tradition often depicts the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven in this manner.
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the six Holy Days of Obligation; however, due to the continuing pandemic, it is dispensed this year. To honor this special day, perhaps, join a live-streamed Mass online or on Facebook, spend time on your own with the daily readings, or offer a Rosary. Understandably the difficulty of attending liturgies may cause some to feel disconnected from the Church and her traditions. However, with prayer and even a little creativity, it is possible to use this time to grow even stronger in your faith.
We can turn to the Blessed Mother for comfort, encouragement, and intercessory prayer. Her role in the Church is always to lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ. As Pope Saint John Paul II said so well in his homily for this Solemnity in 1999, “Taken up into heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God whose plan upsets that of the proud, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich empty away (cf. Lk 1:51-53).
USCCB Website Update
If you visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website regularly, you have already noticed the new look. Already a valuable resource for Catholics, the updated site, has even more to offer.
A little bit of background about the USCCB,
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an assembly of the hierarchy of bishops who jointly exercise pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands…Our mission is to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing (see Lumen gentium, no. 21).”
On the USCCB website, not only will you find the daily Mass readings, but also the Bible, Prayer and Worship aides and information, and excellent catechesis. The USCCB uses this website to disseminate news and announcements from the Church – both here and abroad. I hope you will take the opportunity to explore the resources available there.
Congratulations Class of 2020
Despite the delay due to the pandemic, almost all seniors and their families recently attended graduations at our Catholic High Schools. It was a special moment to celebrate their accomplishments, as well as their endurance and perseverance. We send them, now, to the next stage of their lives with our best wishes and blessings.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha