On Sunday, August 15, New Zealand’s Catholic bishops will rededicate this nation to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, a dedication first made by Bishop Pompallier.
At a time in which people are “cancelled” at the drop of a hat, it is opportune to take a step back and reflect, even if only briefly, on this day, as has been done in some NZ Catholic editorials and reports in previous years.
For the Assumption reminds us of an ultimate reality, when many of us are tempted to be absorbed in subsets of realities. When it is fashionable for those riding the prevailing cultural winds to “cancel” and ostracise, the Assumption reminds us that we have a true home, where there is peace, joy and love.
As Benedict XVI preached in 2008 — like Jesus, together with him, Mary departed this world to return “to the Father’s house” (c.f. John 14:2).
“And all this is not remote from us as it might seem at first sight, because we are all children of the Father, God; we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus, and we are all also children of Mary, our Mother.
“And we all aspire to happiness. And the happiness to which we all aspire is God, so we are all journeying on toward this happiness we call heaven, which in reality, is God.
“And Mary helps us, she encourages us to ensure that every moment of our life is a step forward on this exodus, on this journey toward God. May she help us in this way to make the reality of heaven, God’s greatness, also present in the life of our world.”
Benedict continued: “By looking at Mary’s Assumption into heaven we understand better that, even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace. We understand that our death is not the end, but rather the entrance into life that knows no death. Our setting on the horizon of this world is our rising at the dawn of the new world, the dawn of the eternal day.”
Such themes were explored further by this pope in 2012: “But now let us ask ourselves: how does the Assumption of Mary help our journey? The first answer is: in the Assumption we see that in God there is room for man, God himself is the house with many rooms of which Jesus speaks (c.f. John 14:2); God is man’s home; in God there is God’s space. And Mary, by uniting herself
. . . to God, does not distance herself from us. She does not go to an unknown galaxy, but whoever approaches God comes closer, for God is close to us all; and Mary, united to God, shares in the presence of God, is so close to us, to each one of us.”
“But there is also another aspect,” Benedict said.
“In God, not only is there room for man; in man there is room for God. This too we see in Mary, the Holy Ark who bears the presence of God. In us there is space for God, and this presence of God in us, so important for bringing light to the world with all its sadness, with its problems. This presence is realised in the faith: in the faith we open the doors of our existence so that God may enter us, so that God can be the power that gives life and a path to our existence. In us there is room, let us open ourselves like Mary opened herself, saying: ‘Let your will be done, I am the servant of the Lord’. By opening ourselves to God, we lose nothing. On the contrary, our life becomes rich and great.”
Nothing that is precious and dear to us will fall into ruin; rather, it will find fullness in God, Benedict wrote in 2010. As St Paul said: “Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay, and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8: 21).
Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, pray for Aotearoa New Zealand. Amen