Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Today marks the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15th). The Assumption was defined as dogma only in the 1950.  In our Catholic Church ‘dogma” is defined as a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding upon all Catholics. The term Dogma Catholicum was first used by Vincent of Lérins (450), referring to “what all, everywhere and always believed” – with the emphasis on katholica meaning universal. The term dogma derived from the Greek dogma (δόγμα) meaning literally “that which one thinks is true” and the verb dokein, “to seem good.” Continue reading

Choosing Hope

As we start another week, there is a lot going on that will bring us face-to-face with the choice between hope and despair. This past weekend’s events in Charlottesville only highlights an encounter with another choice. Despair by far is the easiest choice. A little over 150 years ago, a civil war ended in our nation, and the hope was that we would be a nation dedicated to the self-evident proposition and truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” A little over 70 year ago, men and women of the “greatest generation” arose from the ashes of a world-wide depression, went to work and war, to defeat the Nazi regime that was dedicated to their proposition that not all are created equal, not all are entitles to life, liberty or happiness. Continue reading

Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

Re-posted from last year….

Much of our religious consciousness is affected by art; we have inherited specific images that are more artistic than biblical.  For example, we always imagine St. Paul being knocked from a horse on the Damascus Road.  There is no mention of the horse in scripture.  Is that a bid deal? Perhaps not.  But when Caravaggio placed Paul on the horse, a sign of royalty, he removed Paul from the midst of Corinth, the hard-scrabbled sea port town, from among the drunks, slackards, ner-do-wells, and people who sorely needed salvation.

I think art has also done that to the image of Mary. Many of the paintings that illustrate the Assumption of Mary into heaven, show Mary floating upward on a cloud, carried away by angels and accompanied by cherubs. She hasn’t aged a day. Her hands are folded quietly, her eyes rolled up to heaven, her ties with earth—and with us—almost completely severed.  In these paintings, the people standing below look up at her with longing and with love, reaching out to grasp her robe or touch her feet—But it is too late. Mary has already left them behind – left us behind. Continue reading