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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Blessed Virgin Mary

15 August is the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Christians have celebrated this day since at least the 5th Century. It is known by several titles. Eastern Christians refer to The Dormition of Our Lady. The Anglican Church of Canada calls it The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For Roman Catholics and others, the feast is known as The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church of England title is simple: The Blessed Virgin Mary and was chosen to avoid doctrinal controversy!

50 years ago when the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church was convened, one of the hot topics debated was whether to produce a document on Mary. In the end it was decided to say something about Mary, not in a separate statement, but as part of the fuller ecclesiological document, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (known by its the Latin title Lumen Gentium). A vital truth is contained in this decision: Mary's place is among the People of God. 

This insight has been known to Christians for a very long time. In the ancient iconography of the Church, Mary is never depicted alone. She always with Christ, the apostles or the saints. She is among us, within the fellowship of the Church, a pre-eminent member as she is closest to Christ, and for believers a model of holiness, obedience and faith. 
In her humility and obedience to your calling, O God, the Virgin Mary stands as a model for your Church. Grant that your people may trust in your word, and so in faith become bearers of Christ, our light and our life, for ever and ever.

1 comment:

  1. It is, I believe, precisely because the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother and archetype of the Church that one rejoices most greatly in her Assumption. Here she pre-figures the Church taken up in glory on the last day to be joined with her master in the wedding of the Lamb. Thus, in that recounting of the mysteries of salvation which we call the Rosary the story does not end at Pentecost but is followed by the Assumption and the Coronation of our Blessed Lady.