The Feast of the Assumption of our Lady

Around 135 AD the emperor Hadrian tried to remove the memory of the holy city of Jerusalem by making it a pagan city honouring Jupiter. Around 200 years later the emperor Constantine (285-387AD), restored it as a holy city. In 336 AD the Church of Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt together with other holy places and restored the memories of the life of our Lord.

One of the memories was about the Mother of Jesus centred on ‘the tomb of Mary’, close to Mount Zion, where early Christians lived. On this Mount was a ‘place of the Dormition of Mary’- ‘falling asleep’- and close to it was her tomb.

Here the memory of the Dormition was celebrated, which later became the Feast of her Assumption. This was initially celebrated in Palestine, later it was extended to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century it was celebrated in Rome under the title: “Dormitio”( Falling asleep).

At the council of Calcidon, the emporer Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of the Mother of God, but the Patriarch explained that there were no relics of Mother Mary in Jerusalem. And he said that ‘Mary had died in the presence of the Apostles, but her tomb, when opened later, was found empty. And hence the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven’.

St. John Damascene (8th Cent.) expressed the meaning of the Feast thus: “Although the body of Mary was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it decayed. She was transferred into her heavenly home”.

The Assumption completes the work of God in Mary, the Mother of God, since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God Himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is the crown of God’s work in Mary as she ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The Feast helps us to turn our eyes in that direction, where we will one day follow her when our earthly life is over. On November 1st 1950, Pope Pius the XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Church: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into heaven”.

Pius Parsch in his book, ‘The Church’s year of Grace’ writes: ‘Now towards the end of summer season, at a time when the fruits are ripe in the gardens and fields, the Church celebrates the most glorious ‘harvest festival’ in the Communion of Saints. Mary, the supremely blessed one among women, again Mary, the most precious fruit which has ripened in the fields of God’s kingdom, is today taken into the granary of heaven’.

Fr. James Mariakumar SVD

Prepare for the End Time

The signs of the End of Time have been clearly told by the Lord which we can read in the three chapters of the parallel gospels. Mathew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. We have been seeing these signs taking place before our eyes especially since last two or three decades or even more. The Lord foretold about all these, not to make us panic about it, but in order that we may keep awake and prepare ourselves for the Second coming of the Lord. But how many of us have taken this exhortation of the Lord seriously? The Lord gave us a loving admonition: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21. 36).

Some of us must have been alarmed by the news about putting up of the statue of Satan, Baphomet (in Detroit) and the building of satanic temple by the Satanists. Even this has been revealed in the Bible two thousand years ago. The Holy Spirit has inspired St. Paul to write: “Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day (the Second Coming of our Lord) will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God”. (2 Thess. 2. 3, 4). This Bible prophecy also is being fulfilled now. This shows that the time is very near for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible is the only book which gives fulfilled prophecies. It is impossible to write about the birth, life and death of a person, before the person is born. It was thus written only about one person in the history of the world; about Jesus Christ. Prophet Isaiah who lived 700 before the birth of Jesus wrote: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel”(7.14). It was fulfilled “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4.4). As the Holy Spirit, who is the Principal Author of the Divine Scriptures (Catechism of Catholic Church, Para 304) inspired Prophet Isaiah, to wrote about the ‘suffering servant’ which we read in Isaiah chapter 53. It was fulfilled in the Passion and Death of Jesus. Prophet Zachariah who lived 500 years before the birth of Jesus wrote: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (9.9). How well we see this happening in Jesus’ Triumphant entry into Jerusalem! (Mk.11.1-11). Even Jesus Himself prophesied to His disciples about His Passion, Death and Resurrection. The minute details about the life of Jesus have been foretold. For example, we read in the Gospel of John, Jesus telling the Apostles at the Last Supper: “The one who ate my bread with me has lifted his heel against me” (13.18). Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles was shorter than Jesus and hence he had to lift his heels in betraying Him with a kiss!

It is only a very few Scriptures to prove the authenticity of Bible as God’s word; God Himself was the source of this public Revelation about Himself, inspiring different people, who lived in different places in a period of 1500 years of time. And almost all the prophecies in the Bible are being fulfilled; and the one yet to be fulfilled is His Second coming and what would take place on that Day of Tribulation. The signs of which, as foretold by the Lord also is taking place before our eyes. So it is really time for us to wake up from our sleep (Eph.5.14), and plead for the mercy of God ‘for those who refuse to love the Truth and so be saved’ (1 Thess. 2.10); and also let us pray for ourselves and for all our dear and near ones that we all may have the courage to persevere in our faith and to get strength to withstand all the persecutions. May we read and understand the life of Martyrs of the Church and the Saints who faced so many persecutions and are now in the glory of the Lord. “They have conquered the enemy (of our salvation) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (by their profession of faith in the Word and also by their living the Word), for they did not cling to life even in the face of death” (Rev. 12.11). They really are our ‘role models’ for us as we wait for the Second Coming of the Lord. Let us pray to them that through their intercession we may be given all spiritual support that we need in order to face the End of Time without wavering in our faith.

Let us entrust the whole Church to the care of our Lord who has promised that ‘the gates of Hades will not prevail against it’ (Mt. 16.18). And our loving Mother, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all believers in Jesus, has given us the assurance at Fatima that “in the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph”. We need, first of all, to live God’s word and obey His Commandments. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). So if we declare our allegiance to the Lord (by living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ- Phil.1.27) and to our Mother by obeying her (“Do whatever he tells you”- Jn. 2.5), we do not have to be alarmed nor panic stricken, for then we are assured of our eternal reward. May our incessant prayers (Mt. 26.41; Lk.18.1; Eph. 6.18; 1 Tim. 2. 1, 2), spending time with the Eucharistic Lord in Adoration which is our Power House, our fasting and penance, praying with the Word of God (Lectio Divina), our Sacramental life, our invocation to Mother Mary, to our Guardian Angel, to all the Angels and Saints in heaven help us to ‘put on Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 13.14) and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses here on earth ‘(Ref. Acts. 1.8); and that we may ‘fight the good fight, and finish the race, and keep the faith’ (2 Tim. 4.7) till the end of our pilgrimage on earth. ‘Our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil.3.20), from where our Saviour Jesus Christ ‘will come to take us to Himself, so that where He is, there we may be also’ (Jn. 14.3) for all eternity.

Mary Pereira