Nine years ago the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission published an agreed statement on Our Lady which was called ‘Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ’.
In their agreement, theologians from both churches stressed the place of Mary in the Scriptures. They also reviewed the place of Mary in the Christian tradition and in the spiritual life of the Christian community.
When it came to the question of the Assumption of Mary this is the conclusion reached:
‘We can affirm together that the teaching that God has taken the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of her person into his glory as consonant with Scripture and that it can, indeed only be understood in the light of Scripture’.
When we reflect that our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox tradition have always celebrated the Assumption of Mary into heaven under the title of the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Blessed Virgin: her passing into the fullness of physical and spiritual glory, then we see that this great feast has ecumenical implications.
Christians can unite around the reality that what is in store for us has already been accomplished in our Mother Mary. The beautiful Byzantine icon of the Dormition which shows the glorious Christ coming to bring his mother Mary (represented as a tiny child) into the full glory of God, is sign of grace and hope for all who live and die in Christ.
It is a special joy for us that the localChurchofSouth Africais under the patronage of Mary, Assumed into Heaven. Next Sunday we can show that joy in celebrating our Patroness at the procession and devotions at our Lady Help of Christians church in Lansdowne.
This year the theme of the celebration is “Woman of Faith”. May she mother us in our journey of faith.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.