3. “Signum magnum paruit in caelo” (Revelation 12:1).
In presenting the “great sign” of the “woman clothed with the sun” (ibid.), the passage from the Book of Revelation, which has just been proclaimed, says that she “was with child and ... cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (Revelation 12:2). Mary, when she goes to help her cousin Elizabeth, as we heard in the Gospel, carries in her womb the Saviour, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Both representations of Mary, the historical one described in the Gospel, and the one mentioned in the Book of Revelation symbolize the Church. The fact that the condition of pregnancy, like the impending birth, the perils of the dragon and the abduction of the new-born child “caught up to God and to his throne” (Revelation 12:4-5) also belong to the “heavenly” Church contemplated in the Apostle John’s vision, is very eloquent, and in today’s solemnity becomes a reason for deep reflection.
Just as the risen Christ who has ascended into heaven forever bears the wounds of his redemptive death within his glorious body and his merciful heart, so his Mother brings to eternity “the pangs” and “anguish for delivery” (Revelation 12:2). And as the Son, through his death, never stops redeeming all who have been begotten by God as his adopted children, thus the new Eve continues from generation to generation to give birth to the new man, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). This is the Church’s eschatological image, which is present and active in the Virgin.
4. At this moment in history, at the end of a millennium and on the threshold of a new and epochal horizon, this dimension of Mary’s mystery is more significant than ever. Our Lady, taken up into the glory of God among the saints is a sure sign of hope for the Church and for all humanity.
The glory of the Mother is a cause of immense joy to all her children, a joy that knows the far-reaching resonance of the sentiment that is typical of popular piety, even though it cannot be reduced to it. It is, so to speak, a theological joy, firmly rooted in the paschal mystery. In this sense, the Virgin is “causa nostrae laetitiae — the cause of our joy”.
Taken up into heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God whose plan upsets that of the proud, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich empty away (cf. Luke 1:51-53).
5. “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”! In this perspective, the Virgin of the Magnificat helps us to understand better the value and meaning of the Great Jubilee now at our door, a favourable time when the universal Church will join in her canticle to praise the wonder of the Incarnation. The spirit of the Magnificat is the spirit of the Jubilee: indeed, in her prophetic canticle, Mary gives voice to the jubilation which fills her heart, because God, her Saviour, has looked upon his humble handmaid (cf. Luke 1:47-48).
May this be the spirit of the Church and of every Christian. Let us pray that the Great Jubilee will be in every sense a Magnificat that unites heaven and earth in a canticle of praise and thanksgiving.
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 15 august 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today the liturgy invites us to contemplate Mary, taken up body and soul into heaven. By a special privilege, she was enriched by divine grace from the moment of her conception, and Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Father, opened the doors of his kingdom to her, first among human creatures. Now from heaven, where the Queen of the angels and saints is crowned, the Mother of God and of the Church is close to the Christian people before whom she shines as the “new and immaculate woman (who) mediated for the guilt of the first woman” (Sacramentarium Gregorianum, Praefatio in Assumpt., n. 1688).
Let us turn trustingly to her who “shines among the saints like the sun among the stars”. Mary, like a bright star, shows us, pilgrims on earth on our way to heavenly glory, the homeland for which we are bound. She reassures us that we will reach our goal if we do not tire of constantly seeking the “things of above” with living faith, certain hope and fervent love. Not only does she show us the way, but she herself accompanies us and is the “happy Gate of heaven”.
2. In various parts of the world, this ancient Marian feast occurs at the height of the summer season, a time when many people are on holiday, which is sometimes a mere escape and release. But if one's physical constitution properly gains new strength, freedom from work enables one to make more room for the interior life and contemplation of eternal realities. In many tourist localities there are wonderful shrines and welcoming places of Marian devotion. So as to make the most of these days of rest, why not visit them and pause there in prayer, possibly together with the family? The encounter with Mary, in these spiritual oases, will be a comfort and encouragement for a more serene life and a Christian witness that adheres ever more closely to the Gospel.
3. May the Solemnity of the Assumption therefore be an opportunity to experience Mary’s loving presence more deeply. As a sign of sure and comforting hope she is a support and an incentive for believers to be true disciples of Christ. May everyone feel her closeness; may the suffering, the sick and all who turn to her in their difficulties and trials, especially experience her efficacious intercession.
Mary, sweet Queen of heaven, show yourself a Mother to us all! “Give us days of peace, watch over our journey, make us see your Son, full of the joy of heaven” (Hymn for Second Vespers).
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages. To the English-speaking pilgrims he said:
I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer, especially the group from the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven, be close to all of you during these summer days, and may almighty God bless you and your families with joy and peace.
The Holy Father ended by greeting all the holiday-makers:
I would then like to greet all those who are spending Ferragosto in the various holiday spots and I wish them great serenity and peace. At the same time, I also remember those who, alas, cannot go on holiday and are in conditions of hardship, aggravated by the sultry heat and the closing of certain services over the holiday period. I am thinking especially of the sick, the elderly, prisoners, the unemployed, refugees and everyone who is alone or in difficulty. May Mary extend the comfort of her motherly protection to every heart and every home.
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION
JOHN PAUL II
2. "Blessed is she who believed in the fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Luke 1:45). These words well describe Mary, the Virgin of the fiat, who with her total availability opened the doors to the Saviour of the world. Great and heroic was the obedience of her faith; it was through this faith that Mary was perfectly united to Christ, in death and glory. Looking to her strengthens our faith in what we await, and at the same time, we understand better the meaning and value of our earthly pilgrimage.
3. O Mary, Mother of hope, strong with your help we do not fear obstacles and difficulties; fatigue and sufferings do not discourage us, because you accompany us on the path of life and from heaven, you watch over all your children filling them with grace. To you we entrust the destiny of the peoples and the mission of the Church. Today especially, I want to entrust to you my pastoral journey to Poland on which, please God, I will set out tomorrow.
Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to accompany me with your prayers.
The Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish. He gave a special mention to those in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia who have been hit by severe flooding.
I greet the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, including the pilgrimage group from Malta. May Mary, from her place in heaven, guide you and your families to the glorious Kingdom of Jesus her Son.
Today I want to greet the pilgrims gathered at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska with the Cardinals and Bishops to celebrate, in a special way on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 400th anniversary of the Shrine. I join you in spirit, hoping that - please God - very soon I will be able to join you at Kalwaria to thank God for all the graces that in the course of four centuries he has poured out on generations of the faithful. May your pilgrimage be for all a source of divine blessings.
Victims of the floods
A special remembrance to the victims of the bad weather that has hit several countries in Europe in the past few days and to all who are suffering the serious hardships caused by the floods. I assure everyone of my spiritual closeness and upon each of you I invoke the motherly protection of Our Lady.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Saint Pope John Paul II, so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
MASS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Parish Church of Castel Gandolfo
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
First of all, I offer a cordial greeting to you all. It gives me great joy to celebrate Mass in this beautiful parish church on the day of the Assumption.
I greet Cardinal Sodano, the Bishop of Albano, all the priests, the Mayor and all of you. Thank you for your presence.
The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.
Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.
We have a mother in Heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: "Behold, your Mother!". We have a Mother in Heaven. Heaven is open, Heaven has a heart.
In the Gospel we heard the Magnificat, that great poem inspired by the Holy Spirit that came from Mary's lips, indeed, from Mary's heart. This marvellous canticle mirrors the entire soul, the entire personality of Mary. We can say that this hymn of hers is a portrait of Mary, a true icon in which we can see her exactly as she is. I would like to highlight only two points in this great canticle.
It begins with the word "Magnificat": my soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord. Mary wanted God to be great in the world, great in her life and present among us all. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in our life, that with his greatness he might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. She knew that if God is great, we too are great. Our life is not oppressed but raised and expanded: it is precisely then that it becomes great in the splendour of God.
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31 August 2014