Fr. James Phalan, C.S.C., explains that on the Feast of the Assumption we celebrate the surety of Christian hope.
August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, is about the biggest day of the summer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of the Assumption is the Patroness of France and even with secularization in France it remains a national holiday, so it’s vacation season with lots of pilgrims. Further, the link in the meaning of the Immaculate Conception with the Assumption makes the feast stand out there among other devotions to Mary. At Lourdes, Our Lady identifies herself as the Immaculate Conception. Something that began in the life of Mary of Nazareth at her Conception reaches its full conclusion and completion at her Assumption WHILE SHOWING THE REASON FOR OUR HOPE.
This Covid year may be a bit different than other years, I imagine, but I know the spirit in Lourdes will be the same. Normally the Sanctuary is packed. The torchlight Rosary Procession is a mass of humanity that moves super slowly, but it is so beautiful. HOPE SHINES BRIGHTLY like a welcoming beacon.
Yet remember how that light began. On a cold winter day, a poor uneducated girl was scavenging for firewood in something of a local dumping ground when an unimaginably beautiful young woman emerged from light in a niche on the side of a cave. An encounter, a relationship, a journey unfolded. In meeting and getting to know this new friend, Bernadette found PEACE and experienced a LOVE WHO GIVES HIMSELF AWAY. Praying the Rosary together in each meeting, Bernadette came to know that THIS PEACE IS JESUS.
When the young lady finally identified herself as the Immaculate Conception, the events had ripened so that those with eyes open to see can understand that what Lourdes is about is a revelation of and hope for the NEW CREATION for our times At the same time Lourdes is a school showing how to get there: following, becoming like this LOVE WHO GIVES HIMSELF AWAY.
How beautiful – yet, honestly, sometimes, how hard. However even at difficult at times, we know that the way of self-sacrificing love is simply true, particularly in its everyday manifestations like marriage and motherhood. A person or society that would want to dismiss self-sacrifice loses its soul. It is TRUST IN JESUS that needs to sustain it, SURE HOPE. Our COVID WORLD so much needs this hope!
What we celebrate on the Feast of the Assumption is the surety of Christian hope. The Assumption of Mary is the completion of HER earthly journey of love and the light that shows us the destination at the end of OURS. It is the promise of the COMPLETION OF GOD’S PROMISES FOR US AND THE FULLNESS OF LIFE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
On those cold winter days of our lives, though, we need to let this beautiful Lady bring US this PEACE, THIS LOVE WHO GIVES HIMSELF AWAY. Receiving Him, trusting Him, and loving Him, you will become, like Mary and like Bernadette, more and more part of this LOVE THAT GIVES HIMSELF AWAY. Then you’ll know what it is to be on this journey of SURE HOPE.
While things seem different now because of Covid-19, let’s celebrate the Feast of the Assumption this year even more than we usually do: a sign of hope that we’re on our way to the NEW CREATION!
Copyright 2020 Fr. James Phalan, C.S.C.
Image courtesy of MonasteryIcons.com. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About the Author
Father James Phalan, C.S.C. is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years as part of the Family Rosary team, travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!