RAY COLLINS: Feast of The Assumption

One of the special features of World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, was the Catechesis session held on each of the first three days of this week of joy and celebration.

On the third of these days we heard from Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, the only Australian to provide catechesis in the centre we attended.

The focus of his talk was the importance of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the life of the Church and particularly in the lives of the youth of our world.

During Archbishop Prowse’s presentation it became apparent to me the high degree of engagement that he achieved with the hundreds of young people present and their willingness to afford him their undivided attention.

He spoke of Mary’s special place in our lives and of her pre-eminent role in the life of the Church. He referred to Mary through a range of analogies that had great relevance to the lives of the young. He depicted her as a young girl embarking on the first youth pilgrimage as she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with St John the Baptist. He likened Mary to the mother eagle who tips the young out of the nest when they are ready to fly when describing the wedding of Cana and her telling Jesus about the situation with the wine. Seen as the beginning of Jesus’ public life it was Mary’s intervention that began this amazing ministry.

We are reminded of Mary’s life and service today as we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. For us it represents the specialness of Mary in the life of the Church and in our own lives. She is pre-eminent amongst all humans in her goodness and acceptance of God’s will in her becoming the Mother of Christ. As modern day followers of Jesus we marvel at what was being expected of her in accepting the role of mother of the son of God.

Her life must have been a challenging and stressful life as she confronted the reality of being an unmarried mother, the possibility of being divorced by Joseph, her betrothed. She was to endure the mysteries of her son’s growth into an adult, his being lost in the Temple and being found in the midst of the teachers and scholars. She would witness his public life and the rejection that he endured, especially in his own town. She had faith in him to the extent of turning to him at the wedding in Cana.

She endured the torment of her son being tortured, humiliated and crucified. Along with his followers, she probably experienced the confusion and doubts that hit them after the crucifixion as the persecution of the earliest Christians escalated. Yet at the same time it is believed that she was present when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and she would have witnessed the transformation that enabled them to begin their mission to spread the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to the world.

As we celebrate this beautiful feast we should take time to reflect on Mary’s life and the place she has in our daily lives. As Pope Francis said in his opening address to the youth of the world in Krakow, Mary is the “Mother of Mercy” and we call on her support of us every day.

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Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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