The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15th August, 2021

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

The Lord did Great Things in Her Life.

 

If you would like to pray the Litany of Loreto on this feast of Mary, the text is at the end of this document.

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader:        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply:      Amen

Leader:        Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply:      Blessed be God for ever

Leader:        The focus of Mary’s assumption into heaven is not on her as one unique member of the human race. It is on the full fruition of the graces of Christ’s resurrection offered to the whole human race embodied in her. Mary stands for all of us.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a.10ab

Introduction to the reading: The book of Revelation was written about 95 A.D. to encourage people who were suffering persecution.  It is written in symbolic language and uses many images – for example, a dragon to represent evil.  In today’s reading, the Church is depicted as a woman giving birth to the Messiah.  As the years went by, this imagery was extended to Mary.

 

A reading from the Book of Revelation

God’s temple in heaven was opened.
And a great sign appeared in heaven,
a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
she was with child,
and she cried out in her pangs of birth,
in anguish for delivery.

And another sign appeared in heaven;
behold, a great red dragon,
with seven heads and ten horns,
and seven diadems upon his heads.
His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven
and cast them to the earth.

And the dragon stood before the woman
who was about to bear a child,
that he might devour her child when she brought it forth;
she brought forth a male child,
one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron,
but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
and the woman fled into the wilderness,
where she has a place prepared by God.

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ have come.”

The word of the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 45:10.11.12.16 (R. 10b)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

The daughters of kings are those whom you favour.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Listen, O daughter; pay heed and give ear:
forget your own people and your father’s house.

So will the king desire your beauty.
He is your lord, pay homage to him.

They are escorted amid gladness and joy;
they pass within the palace of the king.

R/. On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

 

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27

Introduction to the reading: In this first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses problems his converts in the community were experiencing.  Some members of the community had questioned the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and their own resurrection as well.  This passage is Paul’s response.

 

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For as by a man came death,
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die,
so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
But each in his own order:
Christ the first fruits,
then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Then comes the end,
when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father
after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
For he must reign
until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
“For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”

The word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Mary has been taken up into heaven; the host of angels rejoices.
Alleluia.

 

Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

In those days:
Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country,
to a city of Judah,
and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary,
the child leapt in her womb;
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
and she exclaimed with a loud cry,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
And why is this granted me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears,
the child in my womb leapt for joy.
And blessed is she who believed
that there would be a fulfilment
of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud
in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his posterity forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months,
and returned to her home.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

God is walking around Heaven one day and notices a number of people on the heavenly streets who shouldn’t be there.  He finds St. Peter at the gate and says to him, “Peter, you’ve been remiss in your duties.  You’re letting in the wrong sort of people.” “Don’t blame me, Lord,” replies Peter.  “I turn them away just like You said to.  Then they go around to the back door and Jesus’ mother lets them in.” 😊

“And another sign appeared in heaven;
behold, a great red dragon,
with seven heads and ten horns,
and seven diadems upon his heads.”

What an extraordinary image this is from Revelation.

The Book of Revelation is a part of the Bible that I tend to avoid. The vivid imagery is interesting, but I get put off because there are some Christians who make a lot of noise and totally misinterpret what revelation is about. I suppose people are drawn to the description of the harsh struggle between good and evil that permeates the entire book of Revelation. They would find it comforting to hope that the system in which they lived would someday be overthrown, along with all the powers of the world.

This was most definitely reassuring news to the early Christians suffering under the persecutions of the Roman Empire. It is reassuring news for all of us who struggle against the powers of “the dragon” in our world.

Another attraction for people who love reading the Book of Revelation, it seems to me, is that they believed they know the code: that they could figure out the symbols and metaphors so prevalent in Revelation. Somehow, they feel part of an inner circle with special knowledge – everyone else is outside that circle. They even use this “knowledge” as a way of feeling superior to those in their same situation.

But whatever misinterpretation they may have made of Revelation, we can understand their attraction to this book of visions and prophecies. The book speaks to people suffering under extreme external pressures.

This book was written for the early Christians, during a time when they were being forced to venerate the Emperor as a god. Not to do so had, not only religious ramifications, but political as well. Christians were asked to choose one Lord to serve – a choice had to be made. If they chose in favour of their Christian belief, they could have paid for it with their lives.

Revelation is not an abstract book of fantastic imagery and other-worldly events. It was written to help Christians remain faithful and to offer reassurance that the Lamb (or as in today’s reading, the child) would be triumphant.

A casual reading of the newspapers and news feeds highlight the political, economic and health issues facing South Africa; Then we look at the world and realise it is not much better; We have to ask the question, “Who is in charge here anyway?” We look around the world and are shocked by the scale of evil we see. Which force will win out? Are we believers on the side that will prevail, or is our seeming small human effort going to pale into insignificance before the “red dragon with its 7 heads and horns”?

Revelation intends to assure us that goodness will win. Like the early Christians we may be tempted to drop out of our faith commitments in the light, allure and power of the opposing forces. Who is the Sovereign we Christians follow? God is and we want and can be faithful to the biblical God of justice – the One who will set things right.

Revelation then, invites us to set our gaze, not on our hardships and calamities, but on God. The power of the beast is awesome, its tail sweeps away a third of the stars in the sky. But the child being born is protected by God and will triumph.

There is no secret code to the book of Revelation to help us to interpret it. The language appeals to our imagination and makes it possible to interpret it in many ways. The struggle is clear and the threat of evil, devouring all that is good, is real and very ominous. A new people, the Christian community, are being born amid great pain and struggle. But despite the threats to its existence, the child is caught by God and is safe.

There are many references to the Old Testament in the symbols and imagery. Just as the God of the Jewish people protected them, so God continues to protect the new people of God. God’s Word is not past tense, but actively protecting and re-creating the community for which Jesus gave his life.

On this feast of the Assumption, the powerful images from the Book of Revelation are linked to Mary’s “Magnificat.” Mary’s rejoices in the saving work of God, “scattering the proud…casting down the mighty from their thrones….” Here biblical faith, expressed in two different forms, voices the same hope in God.

The book of Revelation was NOT written to predict specific future events, as some today claim, but is trying to encourage and console Christians in his day for their very present suffering.

The church celebrates the Assumption of Mary today. We see in her a model for our faith. We are reminded that though Christ suffered, he has been kept safe by God, to whom he has returned and will come to bring us all to that place of protection and life. So, the dragon is not triumphant.

The Christian is ready to say in the midst of the battle against evil’s many manifestations, “Now have salvation and power come.” The God of our assurance is offering that assistance to us now in our present struggle.

Growing up, we had a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the lounge of our family home. It was my grandmother’s and she passed it on to my mother. Hanging on the wall in my bedroom there was a small round glazed plaster relief image of Our Lady. They were comforting images – maternal images.

The older I get, the more I see Mary as a defender of justice, a wisdom figure, and a person who loved deeply.

“A great sign appeared in the sky,
a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

When I think of this image from Revelation, I see Mary as a glorious woman, Lady Wisdom, the virgin, giving birth to the Word, who will be undefeated. Sometimes our main image of Mary, as representative of all women, is a docile Mary that has been put on a pedestal only to be dusted off from time to time, feast day to feast day.

Today we see Mary as a strong woman who, with her infant, faced the injustice of the Roman Empire; We see her as intelligent and educated in Torah; We see her as someone who carried many things in her heart including her experience with the Divine; We see her as someone who valued relationships and home life, yet still sought to fulfill her own destiny that takes her away from home. Through Mary and the many other women of the Gospels, wisdom becomes personified.

We are used to the masculine image of God the Father. Today we rejoice in the feminine power of Mary to bring us to Jesus.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Mary said…”God has remembered the promise of mercy,

the promise God made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Reflection:

In her “Magnificat,” Mary rejoices in the saving work of God, Who “scatters the proud…casts down the mighty from their thrones….” Her prophetic proclamation voices the hope the poor and oppressed have that God has and will raise up people who embody God’s mercy—as Mary’s Son did and as we are called to do.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • Where and how do I feel called to be a voice for an victimized person or people?
  • How can devotion to Our Lady bring us closer to Jesus?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:        As daughters and sons of Mary, accepted as her children at the foot of the cross, we bring before God the needs of our Church and our world in the name of Jesus our brother.

Reader:

We pray for Pope Francis and all those who are shepherds of the Church: (pause) as bearers of God’s world to the world, that they may glorify God through their life and their work.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for the conversion of the strong and mighty in South Africa: (pause) that God will change the hearts of all who misuse their power or oppress others and bring them to a new appreciation of the dignity of each person.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for those who hunger and thirst for justice, especially for all those unjustly deprived of freedom: (pause) that they may receive their rights as God’s children and know the gift of our solidarity.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who take important decisions for the common good: (pause) that they may be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for relief from the Covid pandemic: (pause) that God will renew the strength of all healthcare workers, keep them safe from the virus, and that the rollout of vaccines may swiftly reach all our people.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are near death: (pause) may our blessed Lady, assumed into heaven, be their loving friend and mother as they enter into eternity.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time.
LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Gillian Ambrosi, Lorna Buckley and Kris Vergote who died during the week.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.  Amen.

 

Leader:        Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for us:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path

as a sign of salvation and of hope.

We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain,

keeping your faith firm.

You, Salvation of the People of South Africa,

know what we need,

and we are sure you will provide so that,

as in Cana of Galilee,

we may return to joy and to feasting

after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,

to conform to the will of the Father

and to do as we are told by Jesus,

who has taken upon himself our sufferings

and carried our sorrows to lead us,

through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection.

Under your protection, we seek refuge,

Holy Mother of God.

Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial,

but deliver us from every danger,

O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Mary, Queen assumed into heaven,

patroness of South Africa,

pray for us.

Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:        Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:        God of power and life,
who chose the sinless Virgin Mary to be Mother of your Son
and raised her, body and soul, to the glory of heaven,
set our hearts upon the things that are above
and lift us up to share in her glory.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

All:               Amen.

Leader:        May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:               Amen.

 

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The Litany of Loreto.

 

Leader:                                                All:

Lord have mercy.                                  Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.                                Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.                                  Lord have mercy.
Christ hear us.                                      Christ graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven,                    have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,     have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,                               have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,                            have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,                                            pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,                              ▼
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of the Church,

Mother of mercy,
Mother of divine grace,

Mother of hope,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Saviour,
Mother of mercy,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honour,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,

Solace of migrants,
Comfort of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,

Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of families,
Queen of peace.

 

Leader:        Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
All:               spare us, O Lord.

Leader:        Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
All:               graciously hear us, O Lord.

Leader:        Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
All:               have mercy on us.

Leader:        Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
All:               That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Leader:        Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech you, O Lord God, that we, your servants, may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body;  and by the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sorrow, and obtain eternal joy. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

 

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