“Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on the Assumption of Mary

Since tomorrow, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church (in the Eastern rites of the Church, today, August 14 is the Dormition of Mary – see my blog post from 2013 titled, Breathing with the Two Lungs of the Church for the Assumption of Mary), I thought I would use today’s “Mondays with Mary” as a way to continue my ever growing catechesis on this important dogma of the Catholic Church.

Ever growing because if you include this post, I have written on the Assumption of Mary 8 times over the past 5 years. It’s an important dogma to the Church and is the culmination of the other three Marian dogmas – Theotokos (God-Bearer), Perpetual Virginity, and Immaculate Conception. For a complete understanding of all four of these dogmas, I would suggest reading my book, Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that reads this blog and these series on a regular basis, but for those of you that are new, I am a big Pope St. John Paul II fan. I attribute his papacy to my intellectual conversion as well as all that I do for the Catholic Church in my current position and in my writings on here.

So for today’s post on the Assumption of Mary, here are 10 quotes from different homilies, audiences, and Angelus’ given by Pope St. John Paul II during his 26 year reign –

1. “In her, assumed into heaven, we are shown the eternal destiny that awaits us beyond the mystery of death: a destiny of total happiness in divine glory. This supernatural vision sustains our daily pilgrimage. Mary teaches about life. By looking at her, we understand better the relative value of earthly greatness and the full sense of our Christian vocation.”

2. “Taken up into heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God whose plan upsets that of the proud, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich empty away (cf. Lk 1:51-53).”

3. “Mary’s Assumption is an event that concerns us precisely because every human being is destined to die. But death is not the last word. Death – the mystery of the Virgin’s Assumption assures us – is the passage to life, the encounter with Love. It is the passage to the eternal happiness in store for those who toil for truth and justice and do their utmost to follow Christ.”

Fra Angelico – Assumption

4. “The Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption into heaven reminds us that Mary has returned to the Father’s house in body and soul, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of peace towards which we are all journeying. This is the reason why the Church, which addresses the Mother of the Lord by the title of Queen of Heaven, also loves to invoke her with the fitting name of Queen of Peace.”

5. “Mary shines on earth “until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God” (Lumen gentiumn. 68). A caring mother to everyone, she supports the efforts of believers and encourages them to persevere in their commitment. Here I am thinking most particularly of young people, who are more exposed to the attractions and temptations of fleeting myths and false teachers.”

6. “Mary, glorified in her body, appears today as the star of hope for the Church and for humanity on its way towards the third Christian millennium. Her sublime exaltation does not distance her from her people or from the world’s problems, on the contrary, it enables her to watch effectively over human affairs with that attentive concern with which she obtained the first miracle from Jesus at the wedding in Cana.”

7. “Today the Church celebrates Mary’s glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the Redeemer and the holiness of Mary, whose human destiny is even now perfectly and definitively realized in God.”

8. “Chosen by God as the purest vessel in which to “come and dwell” among men, Mary, at the end of her earthly existence, was immediately taken up into heaven. This is why the Christian community, in a renowned hymn, joyfully sings her praise and invokes her: “Hail, O steadfast foundation of faith; / Hail, O shining emblem of grace…. /Hail, O key to the kingdom of Christ / Hail, O Hope for the ages of bliss…. / Hail, for the heavenly rejoice with the earth; / Hail, for the earthly meet the heavens in song!” (Akathistos).”

9. “In Mary and in the mystery of her Assumption, every person is called to discover the bold, connatural end of life, according to the plan established by the Creator: in other words, to be conformed to Christ, the incarnate Word, authentic image of the heavenly Father, to join him on the journey of faith and to rise with him to the fullness of blessed life.”

10. “Today Mary seems even closer to us: from heaven she sees us and protects us. Contemplation of paradise does not distance us from the earth; indeed on the contrary, it is an incentive to us to work with all our might to transform our world in view of eternity. In our minds resounds the Apostle’s invitation to seek the “things that are above” (Col 3:1), where an eternal dwelling place is prepared for us in the common house of the Father.”

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Assumed into Heaven…Pray for Us

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: ‘Conceived by the Holy Spirit and Born of the Virgin Mary’

Last week, my first book was published through Emmaus Road Publishing, the newly minted publishing arm of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. The title of the book is Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is part of the Faith Basics Series. It was a great accomplishment and one that I could not have completed successfully without the help of Jesus Christ Himself and his beautiful Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If you have not purchased a copy yet, I would encourage you to do so, however, I ask to purchase a copy so you can learn about the Four Marian Dogmas of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When I write about her, it’s about her, and not about my words or about me as writer. The Blessed Mother, as our Mother, always leads us closer to Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus gave her to us, through St. John the Apostle, during his last moments on the Cross.

I realized this week that I haven’t written a Quick Lessons from the Catechism (QLC) in some time nor have written in great detail what the Catechism says about Mary and her role in Salvation History.

So for today’s QLC, we will focus on this topic –

From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life [#508].

Mary is truly “Mother of God” since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself [#509].

Mary “remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin” (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999): with her whole being she is “the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) [#510].

The Virgin Mary “cooperated through free faith and obedience in human salvation” (LG 56). She uttered her yes “in the name of all human nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 30, 1). By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living [#511].

For a more extensive explanation, I would encourage you to read paragraphs 484-507 in the Catechism. You can also read my book, where I go into detail on these points with the help of the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.

Mary, Mother of God, Perpetual Virgin, Immaculately Conceived, who was Assumed into Heaven…Pray for Us.

Mary, Queen of Angels

The Top 10 Read “Mondays with Mary” to Date So Far

Mary and Eucharist

It’s been nearly three years of writing on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the series “Mondays with Mary” and although I have covered a lot of information, there is still plenty to write on for the future. There are more titles to discover, Marian apparitions to explain, and more writings from the Popes and Saints. Although at some point I will get to all of this, I wanted to do a Top 10 list of the most read “Mondays with Mary” to date. The list is from the top down starting with the most “Monday with Mary” views. 

1. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes by Padre Pio on the Blessed Virgin Mary (#121)

2. “Mondays with Mary” – The Flowers of the Blessed Virgin Mary (#94)

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Memorable Quotes about the Blessed Virgin Mary from St. John Vianney (#68)

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 7 Benefits of Praying the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary (#67)

5. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant (#79)

6. “Mondays with Mary” – Saint Mary of the Snows (#65)

7. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Sayings from St. Alphonsus Liguori to the 21st Century on the Assumption of Mary (#116)

8. “Mondays with Mary” – Blessed Pope Paul VI on the Blessed Virgin Mary (#125)

9. “Mondays with Mary” – “Praying Daily to Mary for My Vocation” (#113)

10. “Mondays with Mary” – Pope John Paul II on Mary’s Witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (#101)

It’s my hope today and this week that you can read these posts and the many other “Mondays with Mary” listed on my blog. Feel free to share all of these posts with your family and friends.

The Assumption of Mary: 7 Blog Posts on the Marian Solemnity

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. It is one of the great Marian Solemnities of the Catholic Church and one topic I have written about quite often since the inception of this blog in late January 2012. Below you will find links to the seven blog posts on the Assumption of Mary, some that come from my weekly series – “Mondays with Mary.”

I hope you enjoy them, learn from them, and share them with others. They are listed from the most recent to the first one I wrote in August 2012.

1. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Words from St. Alphonsus Ligouri to the 21st Century on the Assumption of Mary 

2. Breathing with Two Lungs of the Church for the Assumption of Mary 

3. The Death, Dormition, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from the Saints on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

5. “Mondays with Mary” – Blessed John Paul II (Pope St. John Paul II) and Pope Benedict XVI on the Assumption of Mary  

6. “Mondays with Mary” – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

7. “Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Assumption of Mary

This blog post is dedicated to the Iraqi Christians who are enduring such persecution and suffering right now. May the Blessed Virgin Mary watch over them, protect them, and lead them straight to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Breathing with the Two Lungs of the Church for the Assumption of Mary

My fascination with Eastern Catholicism began on Pentecost Sunday 2010 when I first attended Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Church in Austin, Texas with the Weis Family. At the time, I was teaching high school theology at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School and had three of the Weis girls in one of my classes. They knew I was interested in attending a Divine Liturgy. Along with their parents and younger brother, they invited me to attend. The Weis Family became good friends and occasionally invited me over for dinner to eat Middle Eastern food.

At first, I was like a deer in the headlights! The Divine Liturgy of the East is very different than what Roman Catholics experience each week at Holy Mass. After Pentecost Sunday, I found myself attending the Maronite Church once a month or so. The more I went, the more I loved it! Since moving back to Phoenix, I have attended St. Joseph’s Maronite Catholic Church, St. Stephen’s Byzantine Cathedral, and the Melkite Church, St. John of the Desert.

At this point, you might be asking yourself the question – Why is a Roman Catholic attending Eastern Catholic Churches?

JP 2 with Orthodox clergySimply because Blessed John Paul II called Roman Catholics to learn more about the Eastern Catholic Churches and to attend them as well. He wants us to learn about the rich heritage, traditions, and mysticism that occur in the Eastern Rites and the Divine Liturgy. In his Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen (The Light of the East), Blessed John Paul II says,

“…I listen to the Churches of the East, which I know are living interpreters of the treasure of tradition they preserve. In contemplating it, before my eyes appear elements of great significance for fuller and more thorough understanding of the Christian experience…the Christian East has a unique and privileged role as the original setting where the Church was born…Tradition is the heritage of Christ’s Church…Tradition is never pure nostalgia for things or forms past, nor regret for lost privileges, but the living memory of the Bride, kept eternally youthful by the Love that dwells within her.”

If those words aren’t enough for you, let’s continue on with our catechesis from the future saint. Even though these next words were particularly stressed for the reconciliation of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, they can still be applied here since Eastern Catholicism associated itself with the Orthodox for many years after the Great Schism of 1054. In his Encyclical, Ut Unum Sint (On Commitment to Ecumenism), Blessed John Paul II says,

“In this perspective an expression which I have frequently employed finds its deepest meaning: the Church must breathe with her two lungs! In the first millennium of the history of Christianity, this expression refers primarily to the relationship between Byzantium and Rome…the vision of the full communion to be sought is that of unity in legitimate diversity.”

Still remaining unique in their respective traditions and rites, the Church must breathe with her two lungs! As a Roman Catholic, I have taken this call from John Paul II upon myself and attend the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church while still attending the Roman Rite.

While attending the Melkite Church a few weeks back, I decided to attend the upcoming Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in both the East and West.  It was the perfect opportunity to literally breathe with the two lungs of the Church.

On Wednesday night, August 14, I attended the Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s Byzantine Cathedral. The words sacred, beautiful, and mystical don’t give the actual liturgy the justice it deserves. Before the Divine Liturgy began, we prayed Vespers, prayers from the Psalms that speak of God’s great glory. I am still learning the parts of the liturgy so my assessment and reflection is not yet complete.

Icon Screen in St. Stephen's Byzantine Cathedral

Icon Screen in St. Stephen’s Byzantine Cathedral

The entire liturgy, like always, was chanted. You chant the whole liturgy…it’s amazing!! The Blessed Mother was mentioned at least 5-10 times. There were 5 Scriptural Readings – 3 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament, including the Gospel. The hymns teach you the faith since they are rooted in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The homily was superb and focused on the scriptural readings and the explanation of the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

During the consecration, the priest’s were Ad Orientem – “facing eastward.” As the priest should, he is offering the sacrifice of the liturgy facing the crucifix and offering it to God. The incense was so great that I actually felt it enter my throat and descend into my lungs helping me to breathe better throughout the liturgy.

Last night, August 15, I attended Holy Mass at the Catholic Newman Center located on the campus of Arizona State University. As always, when Reverend Rob Clements celebrates the Mass, it’s going to be sacred and reverent. The sacred space is brand new and still does not have much catholic art or statues, but it’s a beautiful space nonetheless. Once complete, it will be one of the most beautiful places to pray in Phoenix.

What really helped me breathe last night was the music that accompanied Holy Mass. The organ is often the main instrument at the Masses I have attended in the past, but last night they had an all male choir singing in both English and Latin. The music along with the sacredness of the liturgy lifted me into Heaven. It was blessing to attend such a beautiful and reverent Latin Rite liturgy.

If you are a Roman Catholic and have never been to an Eastern Divine Liturgy, I have one word for you – GO!! You may be a deer in the headlights at first, but keep going to learn the importance of the East in relation to the West.

To conclude, I give you the Second Vatican Council Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, which states,

“The very rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern Churches should be known, venerated, preserved and cherished by all. They must recognize that this is of supreme importance for the faithful preservation of the fullness of Christian tradition, and for bringing about reconciliation between Eastern and Western Christians.”

Coptic Orthodox Leader  Tawadros II and Pope Francis

Coptic Orthodox Leader Tawadros II and Pope Francis

Let us pray for the works of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis; that through their Papacies the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches can reconcile their differences and be united as one yet again.  Amen.

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Assumption of Mary

We have now entered the month of August! As Catholics, we should be very excited about the days ahead in the liturgical calendar. For us in the Latin Rite, August 15 is the day we celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven. In the Eastern Rite of the Church, the Dormition of Mary is celebrated on August 14. Furthermore, on August 22, we will celebrate the Queenship of Mary. It is my plan to write on all of these important Marian feast days in August through this weekly series – Monday’s with Mary.

For today’s post, I have chosen some excerpts from a sermon given by St. Francis de Sales. The link to the left will provide you with information on this great and holy bishop who influenced the Church so greatly with his vast knowledge of theology that the Catholic Church elevated to him be a Doctor of the Church. He was a major figure in the Catholic Counter-Reformation that occurred in the 17th century and made an impact on the mystical life of the Church that had a renewal in the same century. He was also a teacher. As a high school teacher in the past, and now  a college professor, I have a devotion to him and look to him for guidance and inspiration. When I was teaching high school, I had a quote of his on my bulletin board  – “Bring me souls, away with the rest.” St. John Bosco named his order of priests after him – they are known as the Salesians. There is a Teacher’s Prayer to him as well.

This sermon from St. Francis de Sales was given on August 15, 1618. It covers the aspects of how the Blessed Mother completed the roles of Martha and Mary, her assumption into Heaven, how Our Lord destroyed the devil, the issues Martha had with her sister, how to practice virtue, and the great gift that Our Lord gave to his Blessed Mother as she entered Heavenly Glory. Since this sermon is long, the following are passages I selected for your reading pleasure and knowledge of the Assumption of Mary. As you shall find out, St. Francis de Sales is a mortalist. I will explain that term next week, but many of you should figure it out this week.

“But before speaking of her reception into Heaven, I must tell you how and by what manner of death she died (Treatise on the Love of God). You all know the history of her glorious death. Yet I always feel urged to dwell upon the mysteries we celebrate. Our Lady and most worthy Mistress died at 63, or rather fell asleep in the sleep of death. Some will wonder at this and say: How is it that Our Lord, who loved His Holy Mother so tenderly and so deeply, did not grant her the privilege of not dying? Since death is the penalty for sin and she had never committed any, why did He permit her to die?”

“O mortal, how different are your thoughts from those of the saints, how distant are you judgments from those of the Divine Majesty [Cf. Is. 55:8-9]: Do you not know that death is no longer ignominious but precious [Ps. 116:15], since Our Lord and Master allowed Himself to be attacked by it on the tree of the Cross. It would have not been an advantage nor a privilege for the Holy Virgin not to die, for she had desired death since she saw it in the arms and in the very heart of her most sacred Son. Death is so sweet and so desirable that the angels would consider themselves happy if they could die. And the saints have rejoiced to suffer death, which gave them much consolation, because our Divine Saviour who is our Life [Col. 3:4] had abandoned Himself as a prey to death.”

“When the hour came for the most glorious Virgin to leave this life, love made the separation of her soul from her body, death being only this separation. Her most holy soul went immediately to Heaven. For what, I ask, could have prevented it, since she was all pure and had never contracted the least stain of sin? What prevents the rest of us from going directly to Heaven when we die, as Our Lady did, is that almost all of us have dust or stains on our feet which must be washed away and purified in that place called Purgatory before we enter Heaven.”

“When the most holy soul of Our Lady left her most pure body, this body was carried to the sepulcher and returned to the earth like that of her Son. For it was most proper that the Mother should not have a greater privilege than the Son. But just as Our Lord rose at the end of three day, so did she rise at the end of three days, yet in a different manner, inasmuch as the Saviour rose by His own power and authority and Our Lady rose by the almighty power of God her Son, who commanded the blessed soul of His most holy Mother to be reunited to her body. Certainly it was very fitting that this most pure body should in no way be tainted by any corruption, since that of Our Lord had been drawn from her chaste womb and had reposed in it for nine months.”

“…And just as there was never such an abundance of perfumes seen in the city of Jerusalem as the Queen of Sheba carried with her when she went to visit the great King Solomon, who in exchange made her presents according to his greatness and royal magnificence [1 Kings 10:1-2, 10]; likewise, I say, never were there seen so many merits and so much love carried to Heaven by any pure creature s the most holy Virgin brought there at her glorious Assumption. In reward for this the eternal and great king, the Almighty God, gave her a degree of glory worthy of her greatness, and also power to distribute to her clients graces worthy of her liberality and magnificence. Amen.”

After reading such penetrating words from St. Francis de Sales, it is clear that his theological knowledge of Jesus Christ and Our Lady is great in magnitude. It is also clear why the Catholic Church elevated him to a Doctor of the Church. The fourth excerpt took my breath away, but especially these words – “since that of Our Lord had been drawn from her chaste womb and had reposed in it for nine months.”

Our Lady and Most Chaste Mother Assumed into Heaven…Pray for Us!