Assumption, August 15th, 2014

The Assumption of Mary is the feast that confirms our Christian hope. Let us be sowers of joy and of hope.

’Do not have a petty, sentimental, personal devotion for the Virgin Mary; broaden your heart and meditate on the great mysteries that were accomplished in her.’ E. Pernet 18 août 1889

’What we have to ask of the most holy Virgin Mary, before all and above all, is that she obtain for us an invincible and every more lively faith in Our Lord so that He may reign in our minds and in our hearts.’ E. Pernet 1895 
 
In noting these two ’indications’ expressed over a short period, we receive from Etienne Pernet a call to live with a broad mind and in unity of heart. It is the very experience of Mary, a single path. Turned towards her God, she accepted all the calls that would transform her life. As a young woman of Nazareth, her first consent to the word of the angel had maternity as a consequence: transformation of her body, openness to life, gift of life. From stage to stage, as far as the cross and the birth of the Church, she was ’the Earth’ that lets itself be moulded so that the hope of Israel and the project of God might become a reality. 
 
For us, is it not a time to look at Mary and draw from her the availability and daring that are required of us by this period of the history of the Congregation in which we are now? 
We in the General Council are struck by the consent shown in each country and Territory, in an act of faith to introduce this change of structures, following those who had already themselves experienced many changes. Of course, we feel the price that has to be paid. We perceive the risks, we feel the detachments and the transformations of outlook that have to take place so that each one of us may take our place in that participatory animation that we must invent or just simply live fully. It is the project of the Chapter. It is the mission of today. 
 
Lytta Bassé, a pastor, in her book ’Aube’, offers us a luminous page on Mary: 
’If, on that not very ordinary day of an earthly wedding laden with eternity, Jesus took the place of the bridegroom by multiplying the wine, was it not because Mary had awakened him to what was most precious within himself? Had she not named what he was hearing in the depths of himself – that he was sent to fill human beings with the Presence? That is perhaps the vocation of Mary, more a disciple than all the disciples in that she knew how to awaken in him what he was called to become. It was to a human being, a woman, someone similar to himself that Jesus spoke at the moment when Mary’s words opened him to his own future: "Woman, what is to me and to you?", what is happening that concerns me while it also concerns you?’ 
 
Let us dwell a few moments on these two points concerning Mary: She awakens in others the response they carry deep within themselves. Isn’t this what we are called to experience when we say that we grow through one another? When we wish to build a common house that would be the fruit of our reciprocal trans-formations? How can this be done except by having a heart that listens, that knows how to recognise the best of the other and enables the other to fulfil it. That is the condition on which we will be in community with ’one heart and one soul turned towards God’. 
 
That was the attitude in which Mary became more a disciple than all the disciples. Disciple and apostle in line with what Father J.L. Souletie said in a homily – what is an apostle? 
 
The apostle rejoices in seeing all that is already done in such or such a mission field. Are we sowers of Life or killjoys? Do we know how to receive the newness of God in situations that are often the humblest or the most discreet situations? 
 
The apostle never works alone. The apostles were in fact sent out two by two, and they returned together filled with joy. The mission demands that we work together, that our community projects develop solidarity among us and make us inventive in building with others. 
 
Apostles offer the peace that is not theirs because they receive it. In order to receive this peace we can never sufficiently emphasise the importance of prayer. Entering into our personal planning this personal time that brings us humbly before Our God and recognising that we receive all from him, makes us become women who have confidence in the future and who are capable of recognising the traces of the life of God in others. 
 
Thus, ’the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.’ (Apost. Exhor. Evangelii Gaudium no.1) ’The Virgin Mary had a unique experience of this encounter with Jesus, and thus became “causa nostrae laetitiae”*. The disciples, for their part, received the call to follow Jesus and to be sent by him to preach the Gospel (cf. Mk 3:14), and so they were filled with joy. Why shouldn’t we too enter this flood of joy?’ (Message for World Mission Day, Pope Francis) 
Today, when singing the Magnificat let us remember who our God is, who raises the humble and places his trust in his people. 
 
The Assumption of Mary is the feast that confirms our Christian hope. Let us be sowers of joy and of hope. 
 
A very happy feast to each of you, with all our sisterly affection. 
 
The General Councellors
10/08/2014
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