“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover fire.” Teilhard de Chardin
In our news dominated culture, we tend to view events historically. In this approach, the Assumption celebrates what happened to Mary in the past. Liturgy does more than recall a past event, it draws us into divine mystery where that event is present here and now. This is the “Good News” contained in today’s Feast. First, Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven. Second, Mary’s assumption reminds us that we too will someday join Mary in heaven. Third, Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but also our spiritual mother. She prays for us day and night that we persevere in our struggle to win, as she did, the reward of eternal life. This is the “Good News” we celebrate in this liturgy. This is what we pray; this is what we believe.
St. Clare died on this date in 1253 at the age of 61 and was canonized two years later. She was from an aristocratic family, met St. Francis of Assisi, and sought a life of abject poverty. Francis helped her and eventually had her made superior of an order that has come down to us as the Poor Clares, an order of cloistered Franciscan nuns. No one followed the example of poverty of St. Francis more than Clare. She wanted to live a life of absolute poverty, ” the privilege to not have privileges.”
The high regard that the Church has for this 3rd century saint can be seen by the fact that he has a full-blown Feast Day. He died around AD 258 in Rome where he was a deacon. We don’t know a lot of explicit confirmed information about him. One story says that he was told by the Roman official to collect the wealth of the Church to turn over to the state. He sold all the precious vessels and other things and gave the proceeds to the poor. Then, he gathered the lame, the poor, invalids, etc., and presented them to the Roman official as the “wealth of the Church.” He died a horrible death burnt on a grid iron. The wealth of the Church is in its people not the art work and other things that adorn our churches.
An African missionary was translating the Gospel according to John into a native dialect but couldn’t find a word to use for “faith.” A native replied, “I think you should use to hear with the heart.” What a great translation! That is how God speaks to us with spiritual words that only a loving heart can hear. Do you listen with your heart?
An admiring fan once asked the great Polish pianist, Paderewski, why he bothered to practice every day since he was such an artist? He replied that if he skipped one day, he noticed; if he skipped two days, his contemporaries noticed; if he skipped three days, everybody noticed! Following Jesus is a daily effort. If we skip one day, we notice; if we skip two days, friends notice; if we skip three days, everybody notices. Where do we tend to hold back when following Jesus?
“All for the greater honor and glory of God” is the motto of the Jesuits. St. Ignatius, the Orders Founder, always tried to live out this maxim. Sometimes, we forget that everything we have has been given to us by God, so we shouldn’t be stressing how great we are but how great God is. As the Psalm puts it: “To You Lord, to You Lord belongs the glory…”