The final cry of the most ancient Marian prayer known as the Sub tuum praesidium is: “Oh blessed and glorious Virgin!” There is record of the use of the hymn right back to the fourth century, and it could even have been used much earlier. The early Christians acknowledged that God blessed Mary in many ways, including that of already being in a glorified state, a state to which other members of Christ’s mystical body can only look forward to at the end of the world. This was also echoed in Sacred Scriptures, especially in the Gospel of Luke. First, in the greeting of the Angel Gabriel: “Hail, full of grace …” and “Fear not, Mary, for thou has found grace with God…” (vv. 28 and 30), then in Elizabeth’s words to Mary when their meeting let to John the Baptist leaping in her womb; “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (v. 42). Mary’s own words tell us something: “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (v. 48). In other words, the early Christians have always that Mary’s earthly life was crowned with the blessing of being in a state that when she finished her earthly life she would be assumed into heaven. The feast of the Assumption celebrates this, and it is a feast celebrated in the Church in the fifth century and became a universal Feast by the seventh century. In 1950, Pius XII solemnly declared this belief to an article of faith using these words: “the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, on the completion of her earthly pilgrimage, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.”
The Feast of the Assumption falls in the 15 August. It is also the patronal feast of the Catholic people in New Zealand. It is one of two Holy Days of Obligation for New Zealand Catholics (The other is Christmas Day. They are Holy Days of Obligation regardless of when they fall, including Saturdays and Mondays). The New Zealand bishop has transferred this feast day for 2016 to Sunday the 14th August.
Mary assumed into heaven, pray for us – and since the 10am Mass, the OLV school is in attendance, may Mary’s prayer be on the staff and students in a special way.