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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
HISTORY OF THE ASSUMPTION. The Feast of the Assumption is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. The feast was originally celebrated in the East, where it is known as the Feast of the Dormition, a word which means “the falling asleep.” The earliest printed reference to the belief that Mary’s body was assumed into Heaven dates from the fourth century, in a document entitled “The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.” The document is written in the voice of the Apostle John, to whom Christ on the Cross had entrusted the care of His mother, and recounts the death, laying in the tomb, and assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Tradition variously places Mary’s death at Jerusalem or at Ephesus, where John was living. Eastern Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, continue to refer to the Feast of the Assumption as the Dormition of the Theotokos today.
A REQUIRED BELIEF. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII, exercising papal infallibility, declared in Munificentissimus Deus that it is a dogma of the Church “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” As a dogma, the Assumption is a required belief of all Catholics; anyone who publicly dissents from the dogma, Pope Pius declared, “has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”
While the Eastern Orthodox believe in the Dormition, they object to the papal definition of the dogma, seeing it as unnecessary, since belief in Mary’s bodily assumption, tradition holds, goes back to apostolic times. Pope Pius XII, in the text explaining his definition of the dogma of the Assumption, refers repeatedly to the Blessed Virgin’s death before her Assumption, and the consistent tradition in both the East and the West holds that Mary did die before she was assumed into Heaven. However, since the definition of the Assumption is silent on this question, Catholics can legitimately believe that Mary did not die before the Assumption. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is not a complicated doctrine, but one question is a frequent source of debate: Did Mary die before she was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven? by Scott P. Richert
The word novena is taken from “novem,” the Latin word for nine. A novena is made up of nine days of prayer and meditation usually to ask God for special prayer requests or petitions. Novenas are often used to ask specific saints to pray for us. The Saint Jude Novena, for example, is prayed to ask Saint Jude to intercede on behalf of a request that seems especially dire. Novenas are an ancient tradition that goes back to the days of the Apostles. Jesus told His disciples to pray together after His ascension into heaven, so they went to an upper room along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, (Acts 1:14) and joined constantly in prayer for nine days. These nine days of constant prayer by the Apostles at the direction of Jesus led up to Pentecost. This is when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:1-4). This pattern of 9 days of prayer is the basis the novenas we pray today. Thus, the novena is an imitation of the Lord’s command to the Apostles when they prayed for 9 days in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
All you need to do is to say the daily prayers with a sincere heart. It is not necessary to pray at the same time every day (although you can), or to fast, or to pray the rosary in addition to the novena; however, you can still do all of these things in addition to praying, but they are not required.
Novenas should not be seen as magical incantations that guarantee desired results. God controls the universe and we certainly do not control God. He is not a genie in a bottle, but rather He is a loving Father in heaven. This means that whatever good intentions we pray for, we must accept the fact that God knows what’s best for us, whether we understand His divine intention or not. “Thy will be done” is the proper posture of all Christian prayer. Any so-called novena prayer circulating around that contains guaranteed results, and threatening misfortune for those who fail to devote themselves to it is merely a chain-letter; these should be ignored. Nonetheless, Jesus reminds us in the Gospel to be persistent in prayer and a novena is a great aid in doing just that!
That’s okay, it happens! If you a miss a day, you can do one of a few things… You can either: 1) skip the day you missed altogether, 2) say two of the daily prayers in one day to catch up, or 3) say the prayer of the day you missed and just be one day behind everybody else. It’s up to you, and whatever you choose to do is okay. There are no “rules” and there are no “consequences.” God is just delighted that you desire to be united to Him with His saints in this relationship through prayer.
Should I have the same intention for all 9 days or should I have a different intention for each day?
You can do either one 🙂 What matters most is how you come to the Lord with that intention — with a sincere heart that is open to God’s will.
Have you ever prayed a novena?
Novena for a special grace through Mother Mary on her Solemnity
Mary, Queen of every heart,
MERCY MISSION 2017 – a slideshow