This feast is so-called because on this day, according to a very old and pious belief, the Blessed Virgin was, in body and soul, taken up into heaven. This feast is of very great antiquity; it was fixed on the 15th of August at the request of the Emperor Maurice, and afterwards, by Pope Leo IV, was extended to the whole Church.
In the Introit of the Mass the Church invites us to universal joy by singing,
“Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating this festival in honor of the most blessed Virgin Mary, on whose assumption into heaven the angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King.”
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Pardon, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the sins of Thy servants, that we, who are not able to please Thee by our deeds, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of Thy Son. Who livest, and reignest, for ever and ever. Amen.
Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 24:11-20
In all things I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord. Then the Creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and He that made me rested in my tabernacle. And He said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in My elect. From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling-place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God His inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress-tree on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm-tree in Cades, and as a rose-plant in Jericho; as a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane-tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon, and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh.
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
At that time Jesus entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard His word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast Thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Why does the Church read this gospel to-day?
Because it readily admits of being applied to Mary, the Mother of God, since she, far more worthily and lovingly than Martha, chose the best part, and thereby obtained the most glorious reward, which no one shall ever take from her.
What is the one thing necessary?
The glory of God and the salvation of the soul. Let a man, therefore, fulfil the duties which are binding upon him; but in so doing let him look only to God, avoid all uneasiness and distraction, all extravagance and excess, all that is unjust, and sooner sacrifice everything than suffer injury to his soul.