A reflection and explanation of this Marian Feast
On the harbour’s horizon
A church spire points heavenward
In keeping with its name –
Church of the Assumption.
In my childhood imagination
Mary’s Assumption was not magic but mystery;
Bringing completion to life’s journey.
How could such transparency remain earth-bound?
Uplifted to the Loving Embrace
Of the One to whom she gave her ‘Fiat’.
Re-united with the One to whom she gave birth.
Filled with the utter fullness of God.
On this day of remembrance
Thousands flock in pilgrimage.
Outward expression of interior longing,
Yearning for transformation.
In our scientific era where galaxies are available to view at the click of a button, the Assumption of Mary, more than ever before, speaks to the heart of faith. Whether Mary was assumed into Heaven from Jerusalem or from Ephesus, as many believe, is immaterial. Instead, Mary’s assumption reminds us that we too are glory bound – we too will be filled with the fullness of God.
Belief in Mary’s bodily assumption, tradition holds, goes back to apostolic times and the Feast of the Assumption was celebrated universally by the sixth century. The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary’s body was assumed into Heaven dates from the fourth century, in a document entitled ‘The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.’ The document is written in the voice of the Apostle John and recounts the death, laying in the tomb, and assumption of the Blessed Virgin. In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared that ‘it is a dogma of the Church 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’.
Mary’s earthly life necessitated many journeys, but it was the inner journey, guided by her listening heart that led her to her final journey and destiny. Is this why so many pilgrimise on her feasts? Mary can be such a model and from her we can learn so much. Do we listen to the voice of God? How do we respond?
May the Feast of the Assumption 2014 bring us into the intangible, invisible space where we can listen, hear, and respond.
‘The Almighty has done great things for me’. (Luke 1:49)
Poem and Reflection by Sr Joan Walker SSJG
Image: Stained glass window at Our Lady’s Island Church, Wexford, Ireland – for centuries a place of annual pilgrimage on 15th August.Used with permission.