The Church's Year
THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Why is this feast so called?
Because on this
day the Blessed Virgin was taken up into heaven.
Why are plants and fruits blessed on this
The Church does
this to manifest her joy at the glorious victory which Mary achieved
over death, the world and the devil, and at her splendid triumph
when she, adorned with virtues as with so many flowers, entered
heaven; and that God may so sanctify and bless the plants and
fruits, that their use may serve to our welfare.
At the Introit
of the Mass, the Church invites us to universal joy by singing: Let
us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festal day in honor of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, for whose Assumption the angels rejoice, and
give praise to the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word: I
speak my works to the King. (Ps. XLIV.) Glory &c.
COLLECT Pardon, Lord, we
beseech Thee, the transgressions of Thy servants: that we, who by
our own deeds are unable to please Thee, may be saved by the
intercession of the Mother of Thy Son our Lord. Through the same
EPISTLE (Ecclus. XXIV.
11 — 20.) In all things I sought rest, and I shall abide in the
inheritance of the Lord. Then the creator of all things commanded,
and said to me; and he that made me rested in my tabernacle, and
said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in
Israel, and take root in my elect. And so was I established in Sion,
and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in
Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the
portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full
assembly of saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a
cypress-tree on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm-tree in Cades,
and as a rose-plant in Jericho. As a fair olive-tree in the plains,
and as a plane-tree by the water in the streets was I exalted. I
gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm: I yielded a
sweet odor like the best myrrh.
EXPLANATION The Holy Ghost uses
these words in praise of eternal wisdom, but the Church applies them
to Mary also, to describe the glory and splendor of her assumption.
Mary found her rest only in God, the Creator of all things, who
created her, and preserved her from, original sin, and lived in her
womb as in a tabernacle. On this day God seems to say to her:
"Possess the abode destined for thee from all eternity, and the
inheritance designed for thee as the first of the elect." Thus Mary
is exalted as Queen of the saints and angels in the heavenly Sion;
and now in this holy city, she enjoys an undisturbed peace with God,
shares His happiness with Him, and is second only to Him in power
and glory; there she shines in the most radiant garments, like the
ever-blooming rose of Jericho, from there she lets flow upon the
wretched children of Adam the oil of her mercy as from a fair
olive-tree, shades them with her protection like a plane-tree, and
refreshes them with the sweet fragrance of her virtue and
GOSPEL (Luke x.
38—42.) AT THAT TIME, Jesus entered into a certain town: and a
certain woman named Martha received him into her house: and she had
a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord's feet heard his
word. But Martha was busy about much serving: who stood and said:
Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve?
Speak to her, therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering,
said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled
about many things. But, one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the
best part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Why does the Church cause this gospel to be read
Because it can
be well applied to Mary, who more worthily and tenderly even than
Martha, received, nourished and served the Son of God, and more
fervently and attentively than even Martha's sister, listened to His
words, preserved them in her heart and sought to fulfil them. In
both ways has she chosen the best of all parts, because in both she
walked in perfection, and so gained the greatest of rewards which
can never be taken from her.
What may we learn from these two sisters?
Martha, who is a type of active, stirring life, we should be
energetic in performing the duties of our vocation, but not on that
account forget to practice good works, to do all for the love of
God, seeking in all things His pleasure, and, since we can no longer
administer to Christ in a material way, we should serve the poor, of
whom He says that whatever we do to the least of them, He will
consider and reward as if done to Himself. We are also like Mary who
represents the contemplative life, to be fervent in prayer, in
listening and meditating upon the word of God, upon the divine
Majesty, its perfections and our frailty, thus to sanctify ourselves
and to become more worthy of eternal happiness. This contemplative
life Christ calls the better part, but does not, therefore, set
aside the active life. We can easily unite both, but must never lose
sight of the better part.
Why does Jesus reproach Martha?
Because she was
uneasy and distracted by her over-carefulness and anxiety, and
forgot to hear the divine word. — Thus do many Christians who find
no time to work for the salvation of their soul, and even during
divine service and the sermon are thinking of their domestic
affairs, and so leave the church without having gained anything for
What is the one thing necessary?
To seek the
glory of God and the salvation of our soul. He who attends to this;
attends to all his duties, he is busy and active, but not uneasy and
disturbed, and calmly directs his mind to God in all his labors,
offers his every step to Him, and draws His grace upon
PETITION. Would that I had better
attended to the one thing necessary! Unhappy hours which I have
squandered for the world, its vanities and pleasures! Where are you
now? What shall I have from you in eternity but sorrow and
desolation? Could I but call back my wasted life? But since that
cannot be, give me Thy grace, I beseech Thee, O most beneficent God,
to pass the remaining years of my life wholly in Thy service, and
work above all and only for the affairs of my soul.
THOUGHTS OF ST. BERNARD ON THE
ASSUMPTION OF MARY
ON this day the
glorified Virgin entered heaven and crowned by her presence the holy
pleasures of its inhabitants. But what mind can conceive the glory
with which the arrival of the Queen of the world was celebrated by
the brilliant heavenly hosts, their advance to greet her, their
chanting as they led her to the magnificent throne? Who can fancy
the tender gaze, the loving countenance, the divine caresses with
which she was received by her Son and placed over all created
beings, honored as became such a mother, with the glory that became
such a Son? What lips can describe the assumption of Mary? As upon
earth she, before all others, received special grace, so in heaven
she, before all others, receives special glory. If eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to
know the delights that God has prepared for those that love Him, who
shall say what is prepared for her who bore Him and loved Him more
than all! O blessed art thou, Mary! Most blessed wert thou, when
thou didst receive the Saviour; most blessed art thou, when the
Saviour receives thee!
ST. BERNARD'S PRAYER
thee, on this day, with our most ardent wishes to thy Son, O
glorious Virgin, Queen of heaven! and follow thee from afar, O happy
Virgin! Give thy mildness to the world, give of the grace thou hast
found with God. Obtain by thy blessed intercession, grace for the
guilty, recovery for the sick, strength for the faint-hearted, aid
for those in peril! Dispense to us thy servants, who on this
glorious festival-day invoke thy sweetest name, O gentlest Queen,
the grace of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord and God, to whom be