Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Oldest Marian Feast

Luca Giordano (1634-1705). (" Luca Fa Presto")
The Assumption of the Virgin/ La Asunción de la Virgen 1700
Oil on canvas
61 x 82.2 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

"The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest Marian Feast, returns every year in the heart of summer.

It is an opportunity to rise with Mary to the heights of the spirit where one breathes the pure air of supernatural life and contemplates the most authentic beauty, the beauty of holiness.

The atmosphere of today's celebration is steeped in paschal joy. "Today", the antiphon of the Magnificat says, "the Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven. Rejoice, for she reigns with Christ for ever. Alleluia".

This proclamation speaks to us of an event that is utterly unique and extraordinary, yet destined to fill the heart of every human being with hope and happiness.

Mary is indeed the first fruit of the new humanity, the creature in whom the mystery of Christ - his Incarnation, death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven - has already fully taken effect, redeeming her from death and conveying her, body and soul, to the Kingdom of immortal life.

For this reason, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, the Virgin Mary is a sign of certain hope and comfort to us (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 68).

Today's feast impels us to lift our gaze to Heaven; not to a heaven consisting of abstract ideas or even an imaginary heaven created by art, but the Heaven of true reality which is God himself. God is Heaven. He is our destination, the destination and the eternal dwelling place from which we come and for which we are striving."
From Homily of Pope Benedict XVI in St Thomas of Villanova Parish, Castel Gandolfo on Friday, 15 August 2008

"The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians"