Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Of all women you are the most blessed. 16/8/15

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Statue of Our Lady at Knock Shrine Co. Mayo

This week in a little liturgy we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption (moved from 15th August).  I have always found the passage from the Apocalypse a difficult one and remember being mystified and somewhat horrified by it as a child.  I hope that you are able to explore it in a fruitful way with the resources below.   

Summary of the Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Apocalypse 11;19; 12:1-6,10
This reading tells of a vision where a woman appeared in the heavens, standing on the moon with stars for a crown.  The woman gave birth to a son but a seven headed dragon was waiting to eat him.  However, the child was taken up to heaven away from danger.

Psalm 44
On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

Second Reading
Corinthians 15:20-26
Paul reminds us that death came to the world through Adam but Christ came to conquer death.

Luke 1:39-56
Luke tells of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth; when Mary arrived the child Elizabeth was carrying in her womb leapt for joy.  (This was John the Baptist.)  Elizabeth recognised that Mary was blessed and carrying the Lord.  Mary says a prayer that we now know as "The Magnificant", praising God.


The Book of the Apocalypse (also known as the Book of Revelation) is quite different from other books in the New Testament.  It was written in order to encourage early Christians who were suffering persecution.  It is in line with the Jewish tradition of using rich imagery to sum up mankind's situation in the world and the relationship with the world to come.  We might look at the writings as a puzzle to be solved and indeed, if we look back to the Old Testament, much of the imagery and many of the references are apparent.  The passage in today's First Reading highlights Mary's role in the birth of the Saviour and hence her part in the redemption of the world.  
The Gospel shows a more human and practical side to Mary, as a cousin visiting her cousin.  When she is greeted and recognised as blessed she praises the Lord.  
These two Biblical accounts encapsulate the diversity of Mary's role, showing the simplicity of her everyday life combined with her special calling to be the mother of God.  


1.  Read again the passage about the seven headed dragon.  Draw a picture of it and then consider what this might represent.  

2.  Elizabeth says to Mary "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."  Which prayer do these words remind you of?

3.  Look back at the words Mary says from Today's Gospel starting,  "My soul proclaims..."
Write down other words or phrases that could be used instead of the words listed below to give the same meaning:


4.  Mary's prayer is often referred to as a canticle and has its roots in Jewish tradition.  Look, for example, at the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2.  

5.  Click here for a rendition of the Magnificat with pictures and here for the beautiful Taize version.  

I hope you have enjoyed thinking about Mary this week.  

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