The Feast of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven ~ The Exaltation of Womanhood

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THE FEAST OF ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

AUGUST 15th, 2022

I rejoice heartily in the Lord,

In my God is the joy of my soul;

for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation,

like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,

  like a bride bedecked with her jewels. (Canticle of Isaiah) 

Through the power of his Resurrection,

Christ has adorned Mary with the robe of his own glory and majesty.

In years past, the image I’ve chosen for Mary on this post was a strong one following her title from Revelations, ” A Woman Clothed with the Sun”, but this year, I’ve selected a softer one that connotes the Eastern Rites’ emphasis on the “Dormition” of our Lady or her “falling asleep”, and then being taken up into heaven.

Here’s a bit about this Feast (or Solemnity, as we call it in the liturgy.)

First of all, it’s a celebration of the body and an exaltation of womanhood.

In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared as a dogma of the church something that we Catholics have believed throughout the church’s history ~ that Mary was taken up into heaven, body and soul,  to sit at her Son’s side for all eternity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven makes clear to us that there is room for our humanity in heaven. Mary’s Assumption assures us that what Jesus accomplished in rising from the dead was not limited to his own Person—even though we are not divine, we too are meant to be in heaven with the Incarnate Son, in his home with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Blessed Mother’s birth into heaven generates in us “ an ever new capacity to await God’s future.” (Saint John Paul II). Just as grace does not destroy but perfects our nature, so the glory of heaven will include our whole humanity, body and soul! “That transformation of our mortal bodies to which we look forward one day has been accomplished—we know it for certain—in her” (Msgr. Ronald Knox).  ~ From the Magnificat liturgical magazine / August 2019 – p. 202.

Everyone was quite startled when the distinguished psychiatrist Carl Jung, who was not a Catholic,  said that this declaration about Mary was “the greatest religious event since the reformation.”  And by the way, Martin Luther believed in the Assumption of the Virgin.

Here’s the entire text of what he had to say.  You ought to read this; what he says is truly amazing coming from a psychiatrist and a non-Catholic!

The promulgation of the new dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary could, in itself, have been sufficient reason for examining the psychological background. It is interesting to note that, among the many articles published in the Catholic and Protestant press on the declaration of the dogma, there was not one, so far as I could see, which laid anything like proper emphasis on what was undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely the popular movement and  the psychological need behind it. Essentially, the writers of the articles were satisfied with learned considerations, dogmatic and historical, which have no bearing on the living religious process. But anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in number over the last few decades, and has taken their psychological significance into account, might have known what was brewing. The fact, especially, that it was largely children who had the visions might have given pause for thought, for in such cases, the collective unconscious is always at work …One could have known for a long time that there was a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the ‘Queen of heaven and Bride at the heavenly court.’ For more than a thousand years it has been taken for granted that the Mother of God dwelt there.

The dogmatizing of the Assumption does not, however, according to the dogmatic view, mean that Mary has attained the status of goddess, although, as mistress of heaven and mediatrix, she is functionally on a par with Christ, the king and mediator. At any rate her position satisfies a renewed hope for the fulfillment of that yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul, and for a resolution of the threatening tension between opposites. Everyone shares this tension and everyone experiences it in his individual form of unrest, the more so the less he sees any possibility of getting rid of it by rational means. It is no wonder, therefore, that the hope, indeed the expectation of divine intervention arises in the collective unconscious and at the same time in the masses. The papal declaration has given comforting expression to that yearning. How could Protestantism so completely miss the point?

I was amazed and thrilled when I discovered this text and again when I’ve just now re-read it.

And I’ve always loved to pray and sing these words from the preface of the Mass of the day:

Today the virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven

as the beginning  and the image

of your Church’s coming to perfection

and a sign of sure of hope and comfort for your people

on their pilgrim way.

Mary is the first disciple of her Son.

She is the one who said Yes!  “Be it done unto me according to Your word.”

Each of us who bear witness to Christ give birth to him in our own way.

May we honor Mary on this wonderful feast day and enjoy this late summer day and exalt the women in our life as well!

On August 22nd, the octave of the Assumption we celebrate a minor feast ~ the Queenship of Mary.  I honor her as my queen.  Now this may sound a bit odd, my friends, but I take her shopping with me.  Right now, I need to find a new car because my beloved shiny red mustang went “caput” and I want to get a Hybrid to help the environment and save gas. And you know what? I’m finding they’re hard to find right now; folks are buying them like hot cakes.  You might say a “Hail Mary” that I find one on my priests’ pension, if you wouldn’t mind.

Now, from ~ and in honor of ~Notre Dame de Paris ~ (may she rise again from her ashes,) here is a the Magnificat sung led by a choir boy with congregation responding.  Click here. And be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative writer

St. John Vianney, simple parish priest, yet patron of all priests.

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Today is the feast day of St. John Vianney. I’ve always had an affection for him because I grew up in St. John’s Parish in St. Pete Beach, Florida, though I didn’t know much about him until I entered the seminary and we often gathered together for some summer fun around his feast day. We only called the parish “St. John’s” back then—only recently do they call it by the Saint’s full name.

Fr. Vianney is known as the patron of all priests, so this day is also the feast day of all priests.  When I went searching for an image for him on Pinterest.com (a site that creative people go to find images and artwork for almost anything and anyone under the sun), I discovered images of him with many interesting words of wisdom. His story can inspire folks who don’t have much education as he didn’t gain his wisdom from book-learning; he struggled in the seminary and almost wasn’t ordained because of it.

He was born at Dardilly, near Lyons, Frances on May 8th,1786, and was baptized the same day. His parents, Matthieu Vianney and his wife Marie (Belize) had six children, of whom John was the fourth. The Vianneys were devout Catholics who helped the poor. By 1790, the anticlerical Terror phase of the French Revolution forced many loyal priests into hiding from the regime in order to carry out the sacraments in their parish. Even under these dangerous circumstances,  the Vianneys traveled to distant farms to attend Masses celebrated on the run. Realizing that such priests risked their lives day by day, John began to look upon them as heroes.

He received it in a neighbor’s kitchen during a Mass at the age of 13, the windows were covered so that the light of the candles could not be seen from outside.

The Catholic Church was re-established in France in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, resulting in religious peace throughout the country, culminating in a Concordat.  By this time, Vianney was thinking about his future vocation and longed for an education. He was 20 when his father allowed him to leave the farm to be taught at a “presbytery-school” in the neighboring village of Ecully, conducted by the Abbe Balley. The school taught arithmetic, history, geography and Latin. Vianney struggled with school, especially with Latin, since his past education had been interrupted by the French Revolution. Only because of Vianney’s deepest desire to be a priest—and Balley’s patience—did he persevere.

John’s studies were interrupted in 1809 when he was drafted into Napoleon’s armies. He would have been exempt, as an ecclesiastical student, but Napoleon had withdrawn the exemption in certain dioceses because of his need for soldiers in his fight against Spain s.

One day, he went into a church to pray, and when he came out he found that his unit had already departed. A young man offered to help him catch up with his unit, but instead led him to a group of deserters. He wasn’t able to rejoin his group and remained with the deserters for fourteen months during which time he opened a school for village children until an imperial decree granted amnesty for all deserters the following year. He was then legally free to go back to Écully and resum his studies. He was tonsured (a ceremony of cutting of hair signifying one’s entry into the clerical state) in 1811, and in 1812 he went to the minor seminary. In autumn of 1813, he was sent to the major seminary at Lyons.

Considered too slow, he was returned to Balley. However, Balley persuaded the vicar general that Vianney’s piety was great enough to compensate for his ignorance, and the seminarian received minor orders and was subsequently ordained a deacon in June 1815, and ordained priest on August 12, 1815. He said his first Mass the next day, and was appointed the assistant to Balley in Écully. He was 29-years-old when he was ordained. (I was 26.) It seems his schooling from 1810-1815 was six years—at best; today’s seminarians get four years of college and four years of post-college, usually with a Masters’ degree.

In 1818, after the death of Abbe Balley, Father Vianney was made the parish priest of Ars, a village not far from Lyons. It was in exercising the functions of a parish priest in this remote French hamlet that as the “curé d’Ars” he became known throughout France and the Christian world. A few years after he went to Ars, he founded a sort of orphanage for destitute girls. other countries. As early as 1835, his bishops forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of “the souls awaiting him yonder”.

During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. Quite distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy pastor and hearing his daily instruction. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. He used simple language in his instructions, filling them with imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes. He especially breathed his faith  and his love of God and  his own life principle which he infused as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible.

In his article “How does the Church Respond to Suicide?” Shaun McAfee references an incident described in the book Cure of Ars:

“…a woman…told….Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him. She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive,…Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!” The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.[15]

Vianney had a great devotion to St. Philomena. Vianney regarded her as his guardian and erected a chapel and shrine in honor of the saint. During May1843, Fr. Vianney fell so ill he thought that his life was coming to its end. Vianney attributed his cure to her intercession.

A couple of other loose facts: Vianney yearned for the contemplative life of a monk, and four times ran away from Ars, the last time in 1853. He was also a champion of the poor as a Franciscan tertiary (associate Franciscan) and he was a recipient of the coveted French Legion of Honor.

On August 4, 1859, Vianney died at the age of 73. The bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and more than 6,000 people in attendance. Before he was buried, Vianney’s body was fitted with a wax mask.

On 3 October 1874 Pope Pius IX 4 proclaimed him “venerable”; on January 8, 1905, Pope Piux X declared him Blessed and proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925 John Mary Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI, who in 1929 made him patron saint of parish priests. His feast day is (now) August 4th.

The testimony of his life makes it clear that he always remained devoted to his prayers and that not even the duty of hearing confessions or any other pastoral office could cause him to neglect them. “Even in the midst of tremendous labors, he never let up on his conversation with God.”

Father Vianney composed a simple prayer that reflects his deep religious feelings, which were praised by Pope John XXIII: “The thing that keeps us priests from gaining sanctity”—the Cure of Ars used to say— “is thoughtlessness. It annoys us to turn our minds away from external affairs; we don’t know what we really ought to do. What we need is deep reflection, together with prayer and an intimate union with God. “

The prayer is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

Here are the words of the prayer

I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.

I love You, O my infinitely lovable God,

and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.

I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…

My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You,

I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.

As I have spent the day and evening researching and writing this story about this simple yet great priest, I have two thoughts to share.

The first is that I have struggled at times with my studies—especially math. I often joke “I have two masters degrees but can’t add the tip right on my Denny’s check. And I’ve had six years of Latin and four years of Spanish and can hardly remember any of either. So, I feel a bit consoled by Father Vianney’s life and story.

But the point is: You should too! Whatever your skills; how mediocre your faith, it’s Okay. Just think about what he says in the image at the top of this post.

And now, I bring you back to my parish in St. Pete Beach. My father, who’s name is also John was maintenance superintendent for this large parish plant for 25 years who taught himself English by reading the Sunday funnies, could do just about anything electrical, mechanical. Who went to school to learn how to take care of the parish’s extensive air conditioning and supervised all the cleaning of the church, auditorium, cafeteria and school. A very simple man.

So, dear brothers and sisters, and dear brother priests, let’s all do the best we can.

And brother priests: HAPPY FEAST DAY, too! And now, before you go, here’s a song I think Father Vianney would’ve liked if he were with us today–“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”. Click here

Credits: I relied on two sites for my research: Wikipidia.com and the Catholic Encyclopedia, now known as New Advent.com

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

St. John Vianney

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Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, composed his prayer to Jesus in the 19th century. The prayer reflects Vianney’s deep religious feelings, which were praised by Pope John XXIII: “The thing that keeps us priests from gaining sanctity”—the Cure of Ars used to say— “is thoughtlessness. It annoys us to turn our minds away from external affairs; we don’t know what we really ought to do. What we need is deep reflection, together with prayer and an intimate union with God. ” The testimony of his life makes it clear that he always remained devoted to his prayers and that not even the duty of hearing confessions or any other pastoral office could cause  him to neglect them. “Even in the midst of tremendous labors, he never let up on his conversation with God.”

The prayer is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

Here are the words of the prayer

I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.

I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.

I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally…

My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.