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Arch Bishop Micheal Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

Spiritual Reading

  • Saturday 15 August 2020

    The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity 

    Spiritual Reading

    Your Second Reading from the Office of Readings:

    The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    An altarpiece (1626) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640).

    The Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    Your body is holy and glorious

    In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.
    Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her Son and be honoured by every creature as God’s Mother and handmaid.
    St Germanus of Constantinople considered the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.
    Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our saviour and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.
    All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.
    It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
    So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.


    The ferial reading for today:

    Saturday of week 19 in Ordinary Time

    From a sermon on Baptism by St Pacian, bishop
    Who, O God, is like you? you take away guilt

    As we have borne the image of the earthly man, so we shall bear the image of him who is from heaven; since the first man who came from the earth, is earthly, but the second man who came from heaven, is heavenly. And so, dearly beloved, we shall not die any more. Even if we fall asleep in this body, we shall live in Christ, as he said: Whoever believes in me, even if he die, shall live.
    As the Lord is our witness, we are certain that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all saints of God are alive. For concerning them the Lord says: They are all alive. For God is a God of the living, not of the dead. And the Apostle says of himself: For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. I would rather die and be with Christ. And again: But while we are still in this body we are away from God, for we are guided by faith, and not by appearance. This is what we believe, dearest brothers. For the rest: If we place our hope in this world, we are the most miserable of men. Life in this world, whether it be that of beasts, wild animals or birds, as you yourself see, is either similar to ours or more tedious. What is peculiar to man, and what Christ gives through his Spirit, is eternal life, but only if we sin no more. Thus death is acquired by sin but avoided by right living; life is lost through sin and preserved through good living. The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    It is Christ who redeemed us, as the Apostle says: Forgiving us all our sins and destroying what was recorded against us by disobedience, he bore our burden in public view, fixed it to the cross, stripped his own flesh, exposed the powers of this world and freely conquered them in himself. He released our shackles and destroyed our chains, as David had said: The Lord lifts up what has been torn down; the Lord frees those in shackles; the Lord gives light to the blind. And again: You have destroyed my chains; I will offer sacrifice to you with praise. And so when we come to the sign of the Lord in the sacrament of baptism we are freed of these chains and liberated by the blood of Christ and by his name.
    Therefore, beloved, we are washed clean but once; we are freed only once; we are received into the immortal kingdom once and for all. Once and for all are they happy whose sins are forgiven and whose stains are blotted out. Hold fast to what you have received; preserve it joyfully; sin no more. Keep yourselves as children cleansed by that sacrament and made spotless for the day of the Lord.

    Copyright © 1996-2020 Universalis Publishing Limited: see www.universalis.com. Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Text of the Psalms: Copyright © 1963, The Grail (England). Used with permission of A.P. Watt Ltd. All rights reserved.