Sunday Mass | Feast of the Assumption

Catholic Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr James Ralston O.M.I., recorded at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Durban, South Africa.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

FIRST READING: Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10.


RESPONSE: On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

  1. Thedaughtersofkingsarethosewhomyoufavour. On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir. ℟

  2. Listen, O daughter, pay heed and give ear; forget your own people and your father’s house. ℟

  3. So will the king desire your beauty. He is your lord, pay homage to him. ℟

  4. They are escorted amid gladness and joy; they pass within the palace of the king. ℟

SECOND READING: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Alleluia, alleluia! Mary has been taken up into heaven; the host of angels rejoices. Alleluia.

GOSPEL: Luke 1:39-56.

SERMON: Fr James O.M.I

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Devotion to Mary, our Blessed Mother, one of the most obvious features of Catholicism, originated in early Christianity. It was closely associated with the mystery of her son, Jesus Christ, though did not have the multiplicity of forms so evident in modern times. Over the early centuries the church declared her as Mother of God, model of what the Church is called to be, and the most powerful intercessor.

The Gospel puts before us and exchange of blessings and praise between the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. It is chosen for reading on this Solemnity because it lights up the privileges of our Blessed Mother, who is so closely connected with the glory of her Risen Son.

‘Of all women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ if the Virgin’s child is blessed, how could she not be so herself? The foundation of all Mary’s privileges is her divine maternity. Linked so closely to the redeeming incarnation of the Son of God, Mary can hardly not share also in his resurrection.

Mary’s true greatness is to be found even more in her faith, which caused her, St. Augustine writes, ‘to conceive first of all in her heart before ever in her womb’. ‘Blessed is she who believed’. Indeed, she accepted the message given her by the angel Gabriel as well as all the implied consequences. A vocation is always a discovery. The act of faith, asked of Mary at Nazareth, had to be renewed, filled out, constantly deepened and taken right to the limit, to the very end; to the very cross itself, where Jesus asked her to receive another son, John.

Only then could Mary really sing the Magnificat which Luke puts on her lips, on the day she visited Elizabeth. Elizabeth praised Mary. Mary praised God: his consideration shown towards his lowly handmaiden, his mercy which reaches from age to age for those most in need of salvation.

In ancient times in the Northern hemisphere +the Solemnity of the Assumption featured the blessing of the first fruits to ripen that year, with August being the beginning of the harvesting season. This was presumably to recognise that this feast celebrates Mary in her heavenly assumption as the ‘first fruits’ of the saving power of Christ. Sometimes this feast can make Mary seem somewhat remote from us ordinary mortals since, unlike her, we have to pass through death to attain our heavenly reward. Yet the Dogma of the Assumption is perfectly consistent with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception; being sinless and having born the Son of God, Mary did not need to pass through death, ‘the wages of sin’. Christ, the Lord, after his death on the cross was laid in the tomb, but his body did not experience corruption but rose triumphant, to later ascend into heaven. It seems only fitting the Father should preserve the Virgin Mother of God from the corruption of the tomb.

Far from being remote from us, Mary, as the first fruits of the redeeming act of Christ, shows us the path we are to follow, since that sacrifice has taken our sins away and rendered us worthy of a share in the life Mary now enjoys in heaven. After consultation with the bishops of the world, carrying with them the sense of faith of the people of the Catholic world, on August 15, 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Dogma of Mary, Queen Assumed into heaven.

Some 14 years later, Pope Paul VI wrote in his guidelines for Marian devotion in the document, ‘Lumen Gentium’, “The ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and lead Christians to commit themselves to a life which conforms absolutely to his will.”

I read elsewhere that, “Mary is a sister who walks with us, a human being who struggled to understand the meaning of her life, a widow who experienced loneliness. She, one of us, is the mother of Jesus, in whom God and the human race historically met.” The explanation of the mystery of the Assumption is in the unique love of God for those who are his own, which makes him do such great things. Therefore, she is a sign of sure hope and comfort to us, the pilgrim people of God, especially for us here in South Africa. Our Patroness, Mary, Queen Assumed into heaven.

Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, Patroness of South Africa, pray for us.

COMMUNION ANTIPHON: All generations will call me blessed, for he who is mighty has done great things for me.


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