On the Assumption

«Mary Was the 1st to Take Into Her Arms the Son of God … Now She Is the 1st to Be Next to Him»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday before and after praying the midday Angelus on the feast of the Assumption.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the heart of the month of August, Christians of the East and West celebrate jointly the Feast of the Assumption to Heaven of Mary Most Holy. In the Catholic Church, the dogma of the Assumption — as was noted — was proclaimed during the Holy Year of 1950 by my venerable predecessor the Servant of God Pope Pius XII. This memorial, however, sinks its roots in the faith of the early centuries of the Church.

In the East, the feast is still called today the «Dormition of the Virgin.» In an ancient mosaic of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, which is inspired precisely in the Eastern icon of the»Dormition,» the Apostles are pictured. Alerted by the angels of the earthly end of the Mother of Jesus, they gather around the Virgin’s bed. At the center is Jesus who holds a little girl in his arms: It is Mary, become «little» for the Kingdom, and led by the Lord to Heaven.

In the passage of St. Luke’s Gospel for today’s liturgy, we read that «in those days Mary rose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah» (Luke 1:39). In those days Mary went in haste from Galilee to a small city near Jerusalem, to go and meet her cousin Elizabeth. Today we contemplate her going up to the mountain of God and entering into the heavenly Jerusalem, «clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars» (Revelation 12:1).

The biblical passage of Revelation, which we read in the liturgy of this solemnity, speaks of a fight between the woman and the dragon, between good and evil. St. John seems to propose to us the very first pages of the Book of Genesis, which narrate the dark and dramatic event of Adam’s and Eve’s sin. Our forefathers were defeated by the Evil One; in the fullness of time, Jesus, the new Adam, and Mary, the new Eve, defeated the enemy definitively, and this is the joy of this day! With Jesus’ victory over evil, interior and physical death was also defeated. Mary was the first to take into her arms the Son of God, Jesus, who became a child; now she is the first to be next to him in the glory of Heaven.

That which we celebrate today is a great mystery, and above all a mystery of hope and of joy for all of us: In Mary we see the end toward which all those who know how to link their lives to that of Jesus are journeying, those who know how to follow him as Mary did. This feast, then, speaks of our future, it tells us that we also will be next to Jesus in the joy of God and it invites us to have courage, to believe that the power of the Resurrection of Christ can operate also in us and make us men and women who every day seek to live as risen ones, taking the light of goodness to the darkness of evil that is in the world.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the crowd in several languages. In French, he said:]

On this day of the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, I joyfully greet the French-speaking pilgrims. “Today the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, was raised to the glory of heaven.” She thus opens to us the path of hope. On contemplating her face, let us not hesitate to repeat our unconditional «yes» to the Lord. Following her example, on happy days as well as on difficult days, let us pray the Magnificat. May the Virgin Mary watch over the Church and all families.

[In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we too may attain the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfillment of our hope in her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings!

[In Spanish, he said:]

I greet affectionately the Spanish-speaking pilgrims present at this Marian prayer. The solemnity of the glorious Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which we recall today, opens to us the hope of the plenitude of the life of heaven, which she has already reached and in which she awaits us. Through the loving intercession of the Mother of God, may abundant graces and blessings descend upon the Church and the world.

[In Portuguese, he said:]

Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims: welcome! On being raised to the glory of heaven, the Immaculate Virgin Mary becomes the dawn and image of the heavenly Church and a sign of consolation and hope for the pilgrim Church on earth. May the blessings of God descend upon you and upon your families through her maternal intercession.

[In Polish, he said:]

I greet cordially the Poles. To Mary assumed into heaven, Mother of God and of men, I entrust the whole Church in Poland. May Mary obtain for all believers and people of good will an abundance of gifts and graces. May all who have recourse to her enjoy her protection. Through her, may God bless you!

[In Italian, he said:]

Finally, I greet the Italian pilgrims. In particular I greet the young people of the Diocese of Piazza Armerina and those of the parish of Christ the Universal King, in Bitonto. I wish all a good feast of the Assumption! Thank you. Happy feast!

[Translation by ZENIT]
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