by Fr. Tommy Lane
You may be surprised by the choice of Scripture readings for our Mass today. There is no explicit reference to the Assumption of Our Lady in them. Why? Not all of our beliefs are described explicitly in the Bible. So when it comes to readings for the Assumption of Our Lady and the Mass of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th the best we can do is to choose other readings for Mass which are concerned with Our Lady. To whom did Jesus appear first after he rose from the dead? The different Gospels give different accounts but Pope John Paul II in 1997 said it is legitimate to think that Mary is the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his Resurrection. He suggested that the silence of the evangelists concerning an apparition of the risen Jesus to Mary must not lead to the conclusion that no such apparition took place. Pope John Paul suggested that perhaps the evangelists omitted it because it might be considered biased. I would like to suggest that such an apparition simply could not be described in words and if well known was not necessary in the Gospels. In one of his letters (1 Cor 15:6) St. Paul mentions appearances of the risen Jesus to many others not recorded in the Gospels so the Gospels do not record all the appearances of the risen Jesus. The reason why Mary did not accompany the women to the tomb early on Easter Sunday morning is probably because she had already seen Jesus risen. That brings us back again to the question about the choice of readings for Mass today. Even though the Assumption of Our Lady is not explicitly in the Bible it has been believed by the Church for centuries. Today we thank God for the Assumption of Our Lady. It is, as the Preface to the Eucharist Prayer today says, “a sign of hope and comfort” for God’s people on their pilgrim way.
Do you know that Our Lady is depending on you to help her? Do you know that you can change the future course of world events? When Our Lady was assumed into heaven she continues to help us from heaven but she depends on you, on each of us to help her. We learn from her many apparitions that she is depending on our Rosaries. On July 13th 1917 in Fatima Our Lady said, “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady in order to obtain peace for the world and an end of the war because only she can obtain it.” Mary is depending on your Rosaries to help her achieve her plans in the world. No wonder then that in so many apparitions in so many places she has asked us to pray the Rosary every day. In the same apparition in Fatima on July 13th 1917 she said that if we fulfilled her wishes Russia would be converted. We have seen this fulfilled. On October 13th 1917 in Fatima Our Lady revealed herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. In Lourdes Our Lady never came before they had begun to pray the Rosary and she always left shortly after they had finished praying the Rosary and she prayed the Rosary with Bernadette. During the apparitions Bernadette went into ecstasy and during those ecstasies for the benefit of people praying the Rosary she mimed or acted out the mysteries of the Rosary under the guidance of Our Lady. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II in his Angelus Address on October 29th 1978, shortly after his elevation as Pope, stated, “The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and in its depth.” As you are probably aware the Pope gives a gift of a Rosary beads to all those who are privileged to be given a private audience with him.
No one really knows the full story of the how the Rosary came to be. It evolved into its present form over a number of centuries. While we are unsure about the development of the Rosary, we are not unsure about the power and beauty of the Rosary. For all who love Our Lady, praying the Rosary is a most beautiful gift to give to her every day. The name “Rosary” means a garland of roses and it was given this name after a legend which spread all over Europe which stated that Our Lady was seen taking a rose from the lips of a young monk each time he prayed the Hail Mary.
I am quite sure that we don’t believe enough in the power of the Rosary. As you know priests and religious make a retreat every year. The second day of the retreat I attended this year (2002) was led by Fr Gabriele Amorth, the exorcist for the diocese of Rome. He told us that once when he was performing an exorcism the demon said to him, “every Hail Mary is another blow on my head. If Christians knew the power of the Rosary my power would be finished.” So in that sense we could say that every Hail Mary of the Rosary is a rose being given to Our Lady. If we knew the power of the Rosary, the power of Satan would be finished. David conquered Goliath with a slingshot. We can conquer evil through the Rosary. When the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima one entire household in Hiroshima survived. How? They claimed afterwards that it was due to their praying the Rosary. I think God allows events like the salvation of that household to occur in order to teach us if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. (more stories on the power of the Rosary)
So as we celebrate the Assumption of Our Lady I encourage you to pray the Rosary every day. While we pray the Rosary we don’t just say prayers. Saying the prayers is to help us enter into a spirit of deep prayer, contemplating fifteen mysteries in the lives of Jesus and Mary, five joyful, five sorrowful and five glorious. It is so sad that some parents do not pray with their children now. I am afraid that such children may grow up almost pagan. There are many helps available in religious bookshops for family prayer but I would also ask you to consider including all or part of the Rosary into your family prayer.
Like any good mother, Our Lady is concerned for us her family so after her Assumption in heaven she continues to help us from heaven but she needs your Rosaries to help her achieve her plans. Give a bouquet of roses to your heavenly mother every day by praying the Rosary. The bouquet of roses will then be transformed by Our Lady so that she can help people around the world.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
More homilies for August 15th - The Assumption of Our Lady
Related: Four Marian Dogmas
First Reading Revelation 12 and Our Lady of Guadalupe