Letter from the pastor
Dearest Friends in Christ,
This Friday, 15 August is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast is a doctrine of our faith, which might help one understand why the Church holds this day as a Holy Day of Obligation. This solemnity is our way as the faithful of celebrating this teaching, namely that “..the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection, and a sign of hope and comfort for (God’s) people on their pilgrim. (And how God) would not allow decay to touch her body, for she had given birth to (His) Son, the Lord of all life, in the glory of the incarnation.” (Preface of the Assumption)
The doctrine of the Assumption is founded on three basic principles: 1) the promise of a share in Christ’s resurrection; 2) the unique dignity of Mary as the mother of Christ; and 3) the role of Mary as model of Christians. Indeed, Mary, the ark of the new covenant, bore Jesus in her womb and now she shares in the victory promised to all who believe.
So what is a Holy Days of Obligation and how many are there? Holy Days of Obligation are principal feast days on which, in addition to Sundays, Catholics are obliged by Church law to participate in the Mass. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2180). In the United Sates, our bishops have designated six holy days of obligation: Christmas (Dec. 25); Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1); the Ascension (celebrated in the diocese of Savannah on the Seventh Sunday of Easter); the Assumption (Aug. 15); All Saints (Nov. 1); and the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8). The character and discipline of our observance of holy days of obligation certainly leaves much to be desired liturgically, particularly when the holy day falls on a Saturday or Monday. In the end, I personally think that my parents’ approach to Holy Days of Obligation might be the easiest to remember and to follow, that is, just go to church and participate in these wonderful feasts.
Pax et bonum,
Fr. Justin R. Ferguson