The feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a day of Holy Obligation for all Australian Catholics. Hence, one can assume that this day must be pretty important, right?
Sure! But why?
The Assumption is one of many complex components of Mariology, along with other aspects such as the Immaculate Conception, being the Mother of God & Perpetual Virginity. While my formal Mariology is basic, as a lay Marist this feast day is highly important and influential in my identity as a practicing Catholic. While not trying to dumb this down, it seems an impossible task to discuss the topic of the Assumption fully in one post. So rather than delving into the important aspects of the Immaculate Conception, incorruptibility and the end of Mary's earthly life, today let's start by focusing on Mary as our model of being the first disciple of Jesus Christ. It is because of her unique relationship with Jesus, that today we celebrate her assumption into heaven.
In youth ministry, Mary can be a tough topic to break open with young people. However, she should really be our first and most simple model for what it means to be a struggling teenager. Furthermore, she should be our model of what it means to calmly discern and respond to the call from God, in a chaotic and menacing society. Young, terrified, alone, vulnerable...but open. Mary's heart was open to God's call, and so her response was so clear. Go in haste to the Hill Country. Biblically, to go in haste does not mean to run off wildly into the face of doom, conversely it means to respond clearly to a call with excitement and zeal. For a virginal young woman in Israel at the time, it would seem that there would be little to celebrate upon finding out that you are bearing a child. However, here is Mary, overflowing with the love of God. What a model of faith we have! In the Hill Country, just when you think it can't get any stranger, Mary finds that Elizabeth, her elderly barren cousin is also pregnant...
So what does it mean to us, to go in haste to the Hill Country? Where is God calling us to go out and beyond, to lands that are new or strange? What is the unimaginable that God is gestating in me? And ultimately, will I have the faith and clarity like Mary, to respond with a 'yes'.
In the words of St Marcellin Champagnat "without Mary we are nothing and with Mary we have everything, because Mary always has her adorable Son within her arms or in her heart". Mary our good Mother, pray for us.
Sally is a lively 24 year old who has recently finished studies at QUT and ACU and is now leading Marist Youth Ministry across Queensland and Northern New South Wales. She has travelled widely and is passionate about social justice, having volunteered in countries such as India, the Philippines and East Timor. As a qualified high school teacher, she is passionate about investing in the needs of young people and loves any opportunity to engage with youth and young adults.