Mass this morning was great! Mass is always a special time, but there was something extra special today about it.
First it was the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. This feast day always falls on August 15 and this year, because it is a Sunday, it takes priority over the usual Sunday readings. How awesome to celebrate the Assumption of Mary into Heaven on a Sunday!! I love the hymns we sing (Hail Mary, Gentle Woman is a favorite of mine) and the readings are fantastic (the section on the Woman and the Dragon in Revelation and of course the Visitation from the Gospel of Luke including the Magnificat). Anyone visiting a Catholic Church today who is not a Catholic and has a misunderstanding of the Catholic devotion to Mary may well come away believing that there is some truth to the myth that we worship Mary.
How interesting then that today should also be the day that we welcomed four new members into full communion with the Church. The honor we give to Mary is often one of the hardest things to accept for those either converting to Catholicism or coming into full communion with the Catholic Church from some other Christian faith. The myth that we "worship" Mary is pretty strong out there.
As I took everything in this morning I was really moved by it all. Can you just imagine the pleasure Jesus gets from seeing us honoring His Mother? Can you see Him smile as we sing her hymns and recount the story of her visiting her cousin Elizabeth? I imagine that Mary herself is probably embarrassed by it all. But that's not surprising, it is she who always points us back to her Son, isn't it? But we know that we need her and her intercession as well, so honor her we must. She will never let us lose site of what is most important. And that reason alone is even more reason to honor her.
And on top of all that, to also welcome four people into full communion with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church! The decision to convert or come into full communion must certainly come with challenges (rejection or criticism from family members, friends), but those who persevere and take that step have received graces through God primarily, but also through the prayers of Mary and the other saints as well as (I'm sure) many people on earth. So how happy must Mary have been to see us welcome these four people fully into the Church on her feast day. I can just see Heaven overflowing with joy today! How awesome is that!!
Sunday Mass is always a joy to attend and commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. To have it also coincide with a Marian feast day just adds another level of greatness to it. And then to combine all that with the welcoming into the Church of four new members ... well, words just can't begin to describe it. Today was truly a blessing for those who received their confirmation and first communion and were welcomed into the one true Church. But I think it was even more a blessing for the rest of us who got to witness their joy and confirm for ourselves our own commitment to our Catholic faith.
Through the prayers and intercession of our most Holy Mother Mary, may more people feel called to look more deeply at the Catholic Church and desire to come into full communion with God's Church. May God continue to bless His Church and continue to draw His people to it!