Today, August 15, is the Feast of the Assumption, the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary being received into Heaven.
It is one of my favorite feast days of the year in all the symbolism of forgiveness and goodness that it holds.
It is a day when reciting the Hail Mary is much needed for our Heavenly Lady to bring peace and solace in these troubled times:
Hail Mary, full of grace!
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women, and
blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
The first half of the Hail Mary is straight out of the Bible. The part before the semicolon is the Angel Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, when he told her she had been chosen by God to bear His Son, Jesus Christ (And the Angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [Luke 1:28]).
The words after the semicolon were uttered by Saint Elizabeth, the cousin of the Blessed Virgin, at the Visitation, when Saint Mary came to visit her and Saint Elizabeth felt Saint John the Baptist leap in her womb (…41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?… [Luke 1:41-43]).
The Blessed Virgin's response to Saint Elizabeth was the beautiful canticle known as The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).
The Feast of the Assumption of the Mother of all Mothers into the glory of Heaven is seen as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus Christ to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into Paradise.
John 14:3 -- one of the scriptural bases for understanding the dogma of the Assumption of Mary -- quotes Jesus as telling his disciples at the Last Supper, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also."
Catholic theology holds that Mary is the pledge of the fulfillment of Christ's promise.
The Hail Mary is one of the most powerful prayers because it is believed Jesus cannot neglect the intercession of His mother’s demands. The first miracle Jesus performed at the wedding at Cana is often cited, as in John 2:1-11, when Mary told Jesus, “They have no more wine.” He turned water into wine.
Both Christians and Muslims celebrate Our Lady – or “Maryam” in the Holy Qur’an. The mother of Jesus has a distinguished and honored position among women in the Qur’an.
The 19th of the Holy Book’s 114 chapters is titled “Maryam” – the only surah named after a woman. (See Glorifying Virgin Mary in Ramadan – August 15, 2011).
On this special day, may the Holy Mother grace us -- specially the needy, sick and infirm -- with her Blessings. May she also give solace to those who have lost loved ones.