I would be remiss if I let this week’s Holy Day go by without even mentioning it. Particularly since Our Lady has been such a trusted friend to me in recent months. On Wednesday, August 15th, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the day our Blessed Mother was carried to heaven by angels. There is a lot of confusion about the Solemnity commonly referred to as “Assumption”:
Is it a Holy Day of Obligation? Is it found in Scripture? Is it a Catholic thing? Did Mary’s earthly body die before she ascended into Heaven?
First and foremost, yes, Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation, at least in the United States. The confusion comes in because the Bishops have received permission from the Vatican to waive the requirement to attend Mass when the Holy Day falls on a Saturday or a Monday. In 2009 it was on a Saturday. In 2011 it fell on a Monday. So two out of the last three years we didn’t “have” to go to Mass. With everyone’s attention spans growing shorter by the click, I think a lot of people have simply forgotten the importance of this Holy Day and as a result, didn’t make time for it in their schedules.
On Wednesday morning, it looked like I was going to be one of them. Sunday was three days ago. I couldn’t remember what I did on Tuesday, much less whether it was mentioned during Mass on Sunday. I claim a slight exemption here though because we went to Mass at the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California on Sunday, my MIL’s home parish, instead of our own St. Mary Magdalene in Corona.
The Franciscans, as wonderful as they are, aren’t always the best advocates for the Blessed Mother. Our pastor, on the other hand, Father Vincent Au, CMC, represents an order of priests specifically devoted the role the Blessed Mother plays in our Redemption. Had I been in Corona, I’m sure I would have heard something about the upcoming Holy Day.
Nonetheless, I went to work Wednesday morning fully expecting to get lost in a mountain of work, emerging nine hours later for the 70 minute drive home (hey, it’s So Cal, a lot of people do it). But God had other plans.
A lot of you know I work in government, and I wandered into another part of City Hall to see someone I don’t normally talk to. One of that person’s co-workers saw me and asked, OUT LOUD, if I was going to Mass that day. He had looked on the local parish’s website and couldn’t find the Holy Day Mass schedule. I was on the hook. This guy knew I was a catechist, I was supposed to know things, I was supposed to follow the rules. So I let one of the oldest institutions known to civilization, Catholic guilt, lead me to Mass.
And I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for placing that co-worker in my path Wednesday. Because Mass was worth it. Mary is worth it. Talk about God having other plans.
What the Catechism Says
No, Assumption is not found directly in Scripture, something our non-Catholic brothers and sisters find hard to accept. But apostolic tradition and early apocryphal texts narrate the ascension of Mary clearly (more on this next week). Had she died before she ascended? The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in CCC#974, states “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body.” Again, no concrete “proof”, but that’s where faith comes in.
Now Faith and Mary are two things I can talk about. I mentioned in the beginning that Mary had become a trusted friend to me in recent months. I want to share that with you. But I think that experience deserves its own 500 words so I’ll talk to you later. Have a blessed day. I plan to.