Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Solemnity of the Assumption and the Dignity of Motherhood

(Solemnity of the Assumption 2019: This homily was given on August 15, 2019 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Revelation 11:19a; 12: 1-10; Luke 1: 39-56.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Assumption 2019]

As we honor the Blessed Mother on this Solemnity of her Assumption, we are reminded in a special way of the importance and dignity of motherhood.

At the end of her earthly life, Mary’s body did not decompose in any tomb.  The Catholic Church authoritatively teaches that at the end of her life, Mary was assumed—body and soul—into heaven.  That’s the dogma that stands behind today’s feast.

Mary was given this special privilege because of her great holiness, but we must always remember that her holiness was inseparable from her motherhood.  She didn’t live a perfectly sinless and holy life in a vacuum somewhere; she lived a perfectly sinless and holy life as a wife and as a mother.  Recall how Mary was portrayed in our first reading today from Revelation 12: she was portrayed as the mother of the Savior: the Son “destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

And in today’s Gospel we hear her beautiful words in the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior . . . “ 

What was Mary talking about there?  In what was she rejoicing?

she was rejoicing in Her motherhood!  In the presence of her cousin Elizabeth, she was rejoicing at the news God had just given her through the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation.

Our world today does not have a deep appreciation for motherhood.  Want some proof of that assertion?  Talk to a woman who’s had several children!  Ask her how some of her friends and family members reacted to the news of her later pregnancies:  “What?  Again?  Another one?  Are you crazy?”

Those of you who are mothers with several children, please hear me this morning: You don’t have to apologize to anybody!  Our culture needs to apologize to you!

The truth is, we live in a world right now where many people are trying to come up with clever new ways to kill human life in its earliest stages: new kinds of chemical contraceptives, new ways to perform abortions, new ways to tamper with frozen human embryos (embryos, by the way, which should never be “created” in petri dishes to begin with!)

This is why the world hates mothers who generously give life: they prick consciences!  Those who embrace the culture of selfishness and death are deeply troubled by those who witness powerfully to the culture of life in their own families—and by the size of their families.

May Mary, our Blessed Mother, intercede in a special way today for all those women who generously give life.  May they achieve holiness in the same way that Mary did—in and through their motherhood.  And may their children be holy as well, so that, with them, they will someday rejoice forever in God’s kingdom—as Mary now rejoices eternally with her divine Son.