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Growing in My Catholic Faith – Why the Feast of the Assumption Is Good News for All of Us
The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15th. We believe that Mary was taken to heaven body and soul after following her son in death. Many Catholics and non-Catholics misinterpret the Assumption as a sign that the Catholic Church sees Mary as a goddess. This view misses the role Mary was given in Salvation History. Like Moses, King David and many others, God chose Mary to lead the people to the Covenant. His duty is to guide us to his son. So how does His Ascension body and soul lead us? And what can Catholic families do to follow Jesus more faithfully?
1. Change Your View of Death
God did not create people to die. In Eden, he gave the Tree of Life. He created us to have an eternal relationship with Him as His children. But sin brought death into the world. Sin tears everything apart. It separates. Death is the separation of body and soul. It is the rupture of God’s most wonderful creation – man. Death is very scary – so that even Jesus faced great anxiety in the garden of Gethsemane (that was part of his pain).
But when Jesus freely accepted death as payment for our sins and conquered it through his Resurrection, he turned death into an act of saving love. His disciples no longer have to worry about death. Jesus has overcome it. By His grace, we too can overcome it. Jesus turned suffering and death into love. By His grace we can suffer and die for the love of others. Jesus made death the door to glory. By his grace we can pass through the gate of death into the glory of the eternal kingdom.
However, how do we deal with death as Catholics? Listen to what people say at the evening and at the funeral. Things like:
“It’s such a shame. He was so young.”
“He lived a good life.”
“At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
“He will always live on… in our memories.”
These words reflect the secular vision of death. Although it may seem nice, kind things to say to those who are sad, the problem with these words is that they are hopeless.
Mary’s Assumption does not show us how special she is. His ascension to Heaven body and soul reveals to us what awaits all followers of Jesus. In the glory of Heaven, Jesus will unite what sin and death have separated. Mary leads us to the glory and healing of her Son. Mary’s following of Jesus should change the way we see death.
Following Mary to Jesus should help us see death as something we embrace in love, and as a door to pass through with hope on the way to glory. And this brings us to the second way we can follow Mary faithfully to Jesus – to have hope.
2. Have True Hope
Mary hoped for salvation. We know that confidence was one of Mary’s best qualities because of her response to the Archangel Gabriel when he announced God’s plan to bring a savior to the world through her. His answer was one of complete confidence. “Behold, I am the servant of Jehovah; let it be done to me according to your word.” In other words, Mary had hope.
Most of us think of hope as something similar to what we wish for. We use everyday words in sentences like, “I hope I get an A on that test.” We tend to think alike when we talk about our hope for Heaven. But Mary shows us real hope. Hope is trust.
Like most boys, my niece loves to jump into the swimming pool in the arms of a responsible adult. He can’t swim and doesn’t really want his face under water. So he stands at the edge of the pool and his face shows very well the mixture of happiness and fear. But he is brave enough to jump, trusting that his uncle will hold him the same way his father did. That’s the hope.
Empowered by grace, believers in Jesus can face life and death equally. We see death and many trials of life and fear. But we believe that Jesus will catch us on the other side. We believe because we know that he passed through the door of death and came out in glory. We believe because he tells us “Come, follow me.”
And Mary said. Throughout her life Mary believed and followed Jesus. That is why he received the reward on the other side of death of being healed again.
So follow the words of Jesus. Don’t worry about tomorrow; Instead, trust God every day to take care of you. Showing that confidence is the virtue of hope.
3. Encourage your children to have hope
Our world is desperate today – desperately. Have you seen how trust is lost in our country? We can’t trust doctors and medical professionals anymore, because most of the decisions they make are dictated by the marketing surrounding the “medical industry.” Yes, we can say that there is good reason not to believe. After all, we don’t want to be taken advantage of, do we? But without trust, no real relationships can exist. Parents want to teach their children how to have good relationships. How can we make our children believe more? How can we strengthen their hope?
The best thing we can do for young children is to protect them. Our culture understands the idea of childlike innocence in sexual terms (thanks, Sigmund Freud). But the Church is really meant in a broad sense. we must protect our children from the pressures, worries, and temptations of adults until they are mentally mature enough to deal with them. Our children must learn that the world is a well-known place, full of goodness. Adults can cling to this knowledge regardless of the stress and temptations that come with that goodness. Children cannot. Teach your children to trust you. Show them that you trust your friends and loved ones. Above all, teach them that you trust God.
As your children get older, your job becomes more difficult. You have to teach them that being a good friend means doing good for the other person – really loving. But you also have to teach them that real relationships (friendships, love, etc.) need time to build trust, friendship, commitment and love. Do you see the consistency? Be careful who you give your heart to, but don’t be afraid to give yourself to those you trust.
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