Today we are very happy to welcome Deacon Enock Berluche Sr. to our parish for the Mission Appeal, as part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan assigned from the Mission Office of our Diocese. He is a permanent deacon serving at the Parish of Sts. Philip and James in Phillipsburg in various roles: spiritual director for the Legion of Mary, moderator for the charismatic prayer group, coordinator of the Eucharistic adoration, and other pastoral apostolates. He is co-coordinator of African-American, Black and Caribbean Apostolate. He preaches Mission Appeal for Franciscans in Action and Source de Vie organizations for Haiti Missions. We warmly welcome him to our community.
This Tuesday is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary – a Holy Day of Obligation. Catholics are questioned probably more about our devotion to Mary than any other matter of our faith. Referring to the historical development of this dogma both in the East and the West, St. John Paul II has said: “The first trace of belief in the Virgin’s Assumption can be found in the apocryphal accounts entitled Transitus Mariae [Latin, “The Crossing Over of Mary”], whose origin dates to the second and third centuries. There was a long period of growing reflection on Mary’s destiny in the next world. This gradually led the faithful to believe in the glorious raising of the Mother of Jesus, in body and soul, and to the institution in the East of the liturgical feasts of the Dormition [“falling asleep”—i.e., death] and Assumption of Mary. Although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary’s Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin’s perfect union with Jesus’ destiny. There are, thus, passages in Scripture that resonate with the Assumption, even though they do not spell it out.”
We need to be convinced of a couple of points about our relationship to Mary:
- Devotion to Mary does not mean that we worship her as many non-Catholics mistakenly think. Anyone can be devoted to another person, a career, a job or place; but that doesn’t mean it becomes your god.
- Devotion implies a loyalty and trust in a person. We respect Mary as our human model of faith and heroic living that can help us navigate our own life’s challenges.
- Both in the gospel and in all the Marian apparitions throughout the ages, she always calls us to her son Jesus Christ. Her message essentially is: “Do whatever He tells you”(John 2:5)
- Excessive devotional practices have led to some misperceptions about Mary and so the Church has given us guidelines for a balanced Marian devotion based on Scripture and Tradition.
- Hence the question we can reflect on this feast of the Assumption is: what is its relevance for us today? One answer is that it gives us further validation to our hope in eternal life, a truth affirmed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ who is the Risen Lord. Therefore doing “whatever He tells us” will lead us there!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal