Solemnity of the Assumption

As a child, I was greatly influenced by my mother’s faith and devotion.  She taught me to love the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross and frequent Communion.  So also, in the years after Jesus ascended into heaven, and before her Assumption into heaven, Mary taught the Church love of the Eucharist. She must have received Holy Communion many times before her Assumption into heaven. She would have had a “First Communion” like all of us.  Now, after her Assumption, Mary, Mother of the Church, wants to draw us closer to her Son in the Eucharist, until the day when she will embrace us with the same love with which she embraces Jesus

I am especially grateful to Mary in the mystery of her Assumption because it was on this day that I received the letter accepting me as a postulant at the monastery. Later, I renewed my temporary vows on the solemnity of the Assumption, and later still, I was ordained as a priest on August 15, 1998. 

Today, Mary’s special love for New Melleray is celebrated in the appointment of a new Father Immediate, Mother Rebecca, to watch over the progress of our community, to help and support Fr. Brendan in the exercise of his pastoral charge, and to foster harmony in the community. We are grateful that she has accepted this additional responsibility along with her care for Mississippi Abbey.

The next couple years will decide whether or not Our Lady of New Melleray can continue as a viable community.  Humanly speaking, the lack of new members makes closure seem inevitable.  But we pray that the Virgin Mary’s love for the monks and this place will prevail and bring hope for a new Spring Time in the life of the abbey and its place in the Church. For we live as witnesses that Mary is the Mother of God, assumed into heaven, where she lives as Mother of God and of the Church.

When St. Paul began preaching in the city of Ephesus, he stirred up the anger of citizens who were devoted to their Greek goddess, Artemis.  He told them that gods made by human hands are not gods at all. Enraged, the people shouted for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.”  But the seed of Christianity was now planted in their hearts. 

Four hundred years later, Bishop Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, began preaching that Mary was only the mother of Jesus, a human person, not God.  But the Council of Ephesus refuted him and affirmed that Jesus is God, a divine Person, so Mary truly is the Mother of God. Enthusiastic crowds surged through the streets as they did four hundred years earlier, but now shouting, “Holy Mary, Mother of God!”  And to this day, every time we pray the Rosary we join them by saying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

Mary is not only the mother of Jesus who is God, but also of his whole body, the Church, because she gives birth to our sharing in God’s own divine nature.  And like every good mother, she shows us the way to God by her example, especially her Assumption into heaven.