Sunday, August 15, 2010

Feast of the Assumption

Our Lady and child surrounded by a wreath made by one of the monks

The Feast of the Assumption is especially dear to the hearts of Cistercians because it is the patronal feast of our Order. Every community of the Order is dedicated to Mary under the title of her Assumption into heaven. At the beginning of Mass, before the community began its procession through the cloisters singing a litany of Mary in honor of her Assumption, Fr. Damian, our abbot, shared some reflections on the meaning of today's feast:
Today's feast celebrates the ultimate fulfillment of Mary's journey as God's faithful and humble servant. As we reflect on this joyful feast, we hopefully realize that she is inviting us and teaching us to sing the Magnificat [the text for today's Gospel] along with her as we continue along our own journeys, however near or far the fulfillment of our journey remains. We too are invited to proclaim in joy and humble service the compassion and justice of our God. Today's feast assures us that like Mary, in serving the reign of God, we too will one day share in her destiny.
At the reading for the second nocturn at Vigils this morning, St. Bernard, in a sermon of his for today's feast, also counseled us to rejoice:
Dearest brethren, this is a time when all flesh should shout for joy, because the Mother of the Word made flesh is assumed into heaven; nor should human mortality desist from singing songs of praise on this glorious festival, when the nature of man is elevated in the Virgin to solitary eminence, high above all the orders of immortal spirits.