Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
is this feast so called?
Because on this day
the Blessed Virgin was taken up into heaven.
are plants and fruits blessed on this day?
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.
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 &c.
(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.
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 grace.
(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
does the Church cause this gospel to be read today?
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.
may we learn from these two sisters?
That like 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.
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 their soul.
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 himself.
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
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 TO MARY
We accompany 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 glory forever. Amen.