By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Many years ago an ambitious young man emigrated from Italy to America. He opened up a grocery store in Brooklyn. He had a big heart for other emigrants. When some Italians visited his store he often sold them groceries on credit. Unfortunately, only a handful of emigrants ever paid their credit.
Over the years that store owner continued to allow young emigrants to buy food on credit. These emigrants still did not pay their credit. And then, the store owner had a heart attack and died. He arrived before St. Peter. St. Peter read his record of generosity and immediately invited him into heaven. The grocer asked St. Peter if he could take a detour through hell before entering heaven. Peter agreed and said, “I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”
When the grocer arrived in hell he knocked on the door. Satan answered. The grocer said, “I want to see all those people who owed me money in my grocery store back in Brooklyn.” Satan asked, “How do you know they are here in hell?” “Well,” said the grocer, “Whenever I tried to collect from them, this is where they told me to go.”
On Tuesday, August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Normally, the feast of the Assumption is a holy day of obligation. However, in the United States and other countries, the bishops have received permission from the Vatican to abrogate (temporarily waive) the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on certain Holy Days of Obligation, when those Holy Days fall on either Saturday or Monday. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!! Since the Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Tuesday, WE ARE OBLIGATED to attend Mass in honor of the Assumption. Yes, this year, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on the vigil – Monday evening, or on the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity of the Assumption: Monday – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday: 6:30 a.m.; 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, the first of the disciples, the one who brought the Son of God into the world, is honored today in this feast of the Assumption. We believe that her bodily assumption into heaven is a sign to us of the future that awaits all who believe in her Son, Jesus.
The scriptures tell us nothing about Mary in her later life. We do not know exactly where she lived. We do not know for sure how long she lived. We don’t know for sure where she was when she died.
There are many stories which were passed down through the centuries about Mary. These stories tell us that Mary lived in an area near Ephesus, called Meryem Ana. Tradition tells us that, at the age of 64, she fell asleep and was taken body and soul into heaven. In 1967 Pope Paul VI paid a visit to the house of Mary at Meryem Ana. Later Pope John Paul II visited the house and confirmed again the significance of the house. Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to Mary’s home when he visited Turkey.
Two years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, where we stopped to visit Mary’s home.
It is said that St. John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her to Ephesus. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled near Ephesus. Some lived in caves, others in fragile huts or tents. They came to escape violent persecution. Tradition says that Mary’s house was built with stone.
There was a woman by the name of Katharina Emmerick who was born on September 8th, 1774, in a small down in Westfalia (northern Germany). She grew up to be a prayerful woman. She was blessed to have many visions. At a relatively young age she became bedbound. From her bed she would talk about the visions she had in regards to the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She never visited the home. But in her visions she was able to describe the exact location. Many church authorities questioned Katharina. Katharina was able to exactly describe the location and house. To the best of their knowledge, Katharina was describing the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And now, thousands of pilgrims and tourists annually visit Mary’s home.
The preacher carried a hand held mic which was attached to a cord. He moved briskly up and down the middle aisle, twisting and turning as he preached. After several twists and turns, the cord got wrapped around his legs. The preacher pulled and jerked on the cord, trying to free himself. A little girl up front saw what was happening. She leaned over to her mother and said, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.