The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 15 Aug
The feast celebrates the assumption of the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven upon her death. According to Pope Benedict XIV, it is a probable opinion, which it is impious to deny, though not an article of faith. The origin of the feast day is not known but it was celebrated in Palestine before the year 500. It is a holy day of obligation, its vigil being a fast day, in all English-speaking countries except Canada. Among the many masters who have painted the subject of the Assumption are Fra Angelico, Ghirlandajo, Rubens, Del Sarto, and Titian.
General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, 16 Aug 2006
Meditation on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today, our customary weekly Wednesday appointment is again taking place in the atmosphere of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption. I would therefore like to ask you to turn your gaze once again to our heavenly Mother, whom yesterday’s liturgy helped us to contemplate triumphant with Christ in Heaven.
Since the first centuries of Christianity, the Christian people has always found this feast deeply stirring; as is well known, it celebrates the glorification, also in body, of that creature whom God chose as Mother and whom Jesus on the Cross gave as Mother to the whole of humanity.
The Assumption evokes a mystery that concerns each one of us because, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, Mary “shines forth on earth… a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God” (Lumen Gentium, n. 68).
However, taken up by the events of each day, one can sometimes forget this comforting spiritual reality that constitutes an important truth of faith; so how can it be ensured that this luminous sign of hope is ever more clearly perceived by all of us and by contemporary society?
Some people today live as if they never had to die or as if, with death, everything were over; others, who hold that man is the one and only author of his own destiny, behave as though God did not exist, and at times they even reach the point of denying that there is room for him in our world.
Yet, the great breakthroughs of technology and science that have considerably improved humanity’s condition leave unresolved the deepest searchings of the human soul.
Only openness to the mystery of God, who is Love, can quench the thirst for truth and happiness in our hearts; only the prospect of eternity can give authentic value to historical events and especially to the mystery of human frailty, suffering and death.
By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful.
Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon.
We may be sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, reassures us with her motherly hand.
Supported by awareness of this, let us continue confidently on our path of Christian commitment wherever Providence may lead us. Let us forge ahead in our lives under Mary’s guidance. Thank you.
– Pope Benedict XVI, 16 August 2006