Ordinary Time: August 15th
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Other Commemorations: St. Tarcisius, martyr (RM); St. Hyacinth of Poland (RM) ; Other Titles: Dormition of Our Lady (Eastern Rite)
On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption. Thus he solemnly proclaimed that the belief whereby the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the close of her earthly life, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, definitively forms part of the deposit of faith, received from the Apostles. To avoid all that is uncertain the Pope did not state either the manner or the circumstances of time and place in which the Assumption took place — only the fact of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, is the matter of the definition.Today's solemnity supersedes the liturgy of the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.Please see this special section on The Assumption.The feast of St. Tarcisius, a young martyr of the Eucharist, appears in the Roman Martyrology for this day.
Now toward the end of the summer season, at a time when fruits are ripe in the gardens and fields, the Church celebrates the most glorious "harvest festival" in the Communion of Saints. Mary, the supremely blessed one among women, Mary, the most precious fruit which has ripened in the fields of God's kingdom, is today taken into the granary of heaven.
- The Directory on Popular Piety talks about the deep significance of this feast day. It also refers to the custom of blessing herbs:
In the Germanic countries, the custom of blessing herbs is associated with 15 August. This custom, received into the Rituale Romanum, represents a clear example of the genuine evangelization of pre-Christian rites and beliefs: one must turn to God, through whose word "the earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seeds in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds" (Gen 1, 12) in order to obtain what was formerly obtained by magic rites; to stem the damages deriving from poisonous herbs, and benefit from the efficacy of curative herbs.This ancient use came to be associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in part because of the biblical images applied to her such as vine, lavender, cypress and lily, partly from seeing her in terms of a sweet smelling flower because of her virtue, and most of all because of Isaiah 11, 1, and his reference to the "shoot springing from the side of Jesse", which would bear the blessed fruit of Jesus.
This Blessing of Herbs is included in the prayers library.
- In an age of sensuality and materialism the Assumption points out the dignity and destiny of our human body, extols the dignity of womanhood, and turns our eyes to the true life beyond the grave. At Mass today ask Mary for the grace to keep your mind fixed on things above and to aspire continually to be united with her and to be brought to the glory of the Resurrection.
- Artists have loved to depict the Assumption of Mary. See this site for a nice collection of different paintings.
- There are many recipe and activity suggestions in the Activities and Recipes sections. Consider serving "first fruits" for the feast day. See Catholic Cuisine.
Tarcisius was a twelve-year-old acolyte during one of the fierce Roman persecutions of the third century, probably during that of Valerian. Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to those Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so St. Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the "Holy Mysteries" to those in prison.
- See St. Tarcisius – Martyr of the Eucharist
- Read St. Tarcisius: Protector of the Hidden Jesus
- Be sure to read Pope Benedict XVI's beautiful address on St. Tarcisius from August 4, 2010.
- St. Tarcisius is portrayed in the book, Fabiola by Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, first published in 1854.
St. Hyacinth of Poland
While a canon at the cathedral of Cracow, Hyacinth journeyed to Rome, was impressed by the preaching and miracles of St. Dominic, and from the hand of Dominic himself received the habit of the newly-founded Order. Upon returning to his native land (1219), he established monasteries of his Order beyond the Alps at Friesach, Prague, Olmiitz, and Cracow.
- The Church's night prayer, Compline, especially the closing invocations, serves as a fitting preparation for death. The two death scenes strike home with telling impact. 1) Christ, hanging on the Cross, is uttering His last word: "Father, into Your hands I rest My spirit." Meditatively we repeat the words and entrust our souls to the care of Christ in sleep, and if need be, in death. For Hyacinth it actually was his dying invocation. 2) The second scene, the aged Simeon is singing: "Now You may dismiss Your servant in peace." How appropriate as one's last day approaches!
- See this Dominican site for an excerpt from the Life of Saint Hyacinth.
- Read how pierogi is a food associated with St. Hyacinth.