Thursday of this week we will celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a holy day of obligation. To understand this particular Marian celebration along with others, we must first understand the role of Sacred Tradition in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is built upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition. This is a fundamental difference between the Catholic Church and the protestant churches. Sacred Tradition has brought the Catholic Church to a more complete grasp of God’s truth than can be attained from the Bible alone. Most Catholic dogmas which are the foundational principles which all Catholics must believe are found explicitly in the Bible, but there are some like the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary which over the centuries have been revealed by God to the Church. Such doctrines come from the same Source of truth as does the Bible and they CANNOT contradict the Bible and must be in harmony with the Bible. I know you have heard this and read this from me already, but we need to be reminded of what and why we celebrate Mary’s role in our Catholic faith.
St. John Damascene, who died in 749 AD, in one of his writings expressed the general belief of all Christianity of that time: “Your sacred and happy soul, as nature will have it, was separated in death from your most blessed and immaculate body: and although the body was duly interred, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay…Your most pure and sinless body was not left on earth but you were transferred to your heavenly throne, O Lady, Queen, and Mother of God in truth.” St. John was only putting into print what had been believed and celebrated openly since the time Constantine legalized Christianity. Mary’s life and her memory centered upon the place of Mary falling asleep close to Mount Zion.
It doesn’t seem possible that the school year 2019-2020 begins this week. Where did the summer go? Hopefully all our young people, faculties and administrators are refreshed and ready for school. I know most parents are ready. If I posed the question, “Why do you go to school?” to students as well as parents, what would their answers be? Maybe, something like this. School is one of the educational environments in which we develop, through learning, how to live, how to become grown up, how to choose a career, and how to become young men and women who can follow the road of life. School teaches all of these things and more. It also broadens our human dimension.
Now I would like to ask the question, “Why go to a Catholic School?” Within our Catholic Schools, along with intellectual studies, we strive to develop the human virtues of loyalty, respect, faithfulness, and dedication—all of this within the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our academics are high quality, but they are not the top priority. In a society that is becoming more and more secular, our Catholic schools teach that Christmas is about Christ’s birth, Easter is about His Resurrection, Lent is a time of penance, and Advent is a time of preparation. Catholic education reinforces our foundation of faith taught by the Catholic Church. The teachings of Jesus Christ are a part of our students’ everyday curriculum. But in today’s society, our human virtues have been trampled on by the media, by Hollywood, and even by our own government. All of which have lost respect for family values and the Christian faith. Our Catholic education strengthens the value of family and faith. Our teachers and administrators have the same beliefs in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, with a respect for life and a respect for all people. As we begin our school year this Thursday, please come and celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation.