Thursday, August 15, 2013

Assumption Day

The Apostles at Mary's empty tomb;
from St. Hedwig's Church,

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," Shakespeare wrote. And today's feast is also known by another name: the Churches in the East speak of Mary's "Dormition."

While the Western "Assumption" highlights Mary's being "taken up," the Eastern term hints at a gentleness and ease that does not characterize our human feelings toward death. The dogma of the Assumption (which was only defined in 1950) doesn't even speak of "death" in Mary's case, leaving it to the theologians to worry about. 

The interesting thing is that, ancient legends notwithstanding (in them it is pretty clear that Mary died), the Church in East and West is unanimous in declaring that Mary, who was so close to Christ in his death on the Cross, experiences even now, in an utterly unique way, the "likeness to his Resurrection"that every other child of Adam and Eve must wait for at the end of time.

"On a day like this, the feast of the Assumption, Heaven seems very near. Our Lady, body and soul in heaven; our Lord, body and soul in Heaven--it makes Heaven a reality for us earthbound creatures" Dorothy Day (in a 1961 letter to Thomas Merton).

As you read this, our "General Chapter" has begun with the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Please keep our worldwide Pauline assembly and its deliberations in your prayers!

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