Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word, 15th August 2017

Echoes of the Word is an occasional newsletter from the monks of Ampleforth Abbey, featuring reflections on the readings, feasts and seasons of the Church's year and the journey of discipleship. Click here if you are interested in subscribing.


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Pius XII solemnly defined the doctrine of the Assumption in 1950. But devotion to the doctrine is much earlier: the Pope was merely confirming what was always the Christian tradition, both East and West. As clear evidence, even in our Yorkshire area, we can point to the relief plaque in the medieval choir screen of York Minster, or simply to the dedication of the Carthusian Priory of Mount Grace. Both are evidence of the traditional devotion to the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady. In the Lady Chapel of our own Abbey Church at Ampleforth there is a fine window by Patrick Reyntiens which depicts the Assumption. Mary is shown on her death-bed, worn-out with age and hard work, yielding up her spirit. But rather than being buried, she is carried up to heaven by angels, and as she is carried up, she becomes progressively more youthful, more animated, more beautiful, until finally she is welcomed into the presence of God. This is all, of course, the result of the resurrection of her son, Jesus Christ. But for us it means that where Mary has gone before us, we can hope to follow. The Assumption is a feast of hope. To see the full size picture of the stained glass window, click here.

Fr Terence Richardson OSB, Prior

Commentary on Luke 1:39-56

The 2013 film ‘Man of Steel’ included American Christians in its target audiences – as it portrayed Superman as a powerful and compassionate messianic figure. The couple who bring him up are kind and loving, but they are his foster parents, who teach him how to live like a human, because, of course, he is from Krypton. Today’s gospel for the Assumption focusses on Mary as the real mother of the real Messiah who was a real man. It might seem strange for a feast celebrating the end of her life that the gospel returns to the earlier episode of the Visitation. But Mary is significant not for the way her life either began or ended, neither of which was essentially a public event, attested in any record like Scripture. Her Assumption was the consequence of her whole vocation in conceiving, nurturing and raising Jesus. The body that gave life to Jesus could not experience death in the usual way. Elizabeth recognises this connection: ‘of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ Mary herself understands the source and destination of her vocation: ‘from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me’.

Fr Chad Boulton OSB

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