The Ministry of Praise – What Seniors Can Offer

Desent_of_Holy_Spirit2One of the ongoing ministries in the parish to which I am assigned (St. Joan of Arc in Arvada, Colorado) is that of the “Praise Ministers.” These are retired and home-bound members of the parish who are unable to attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis, but who are nevertheless invited to share in the faith and works of the parish, especially through their prayer and offering their sufferings to the Lord. It’s a wonderful lay ministry for the seniors of the parish; while they can no longer offer their gifts and talents in person, they can offer prayers for their fellow parishioners.

Each month one of those involved with ministry to the home-bound writes a letter to these treasured faithful Catholics. This month is my turn. Here is the letter I provided for our Praise Ministers:

Dear Praise Minister,

The Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, has a number of months and days devoted to her over a year’s time. May is the traditional month of Mary, beginning with crowning of her statue in church after church all over the world. October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary. The Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, is March 25, nine months before the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). January 1 is not only the first day of the year, it is also the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the witness of the Church to the Mystery that Christ Jesus is both Divine and human. The birth of Mary is commemorated September 8. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is December 8, during the Advent of our Lord.

This month we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On November 1, 1950,  Pope Pius XII defined the dogma:

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: 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

In a homily nearly fifty-four years later, August 15, 2004, Pope John Paul II proclaimed:

Today the Church celebrates Mary’s glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the Redeemer and the holiness of Mary, whose human destiny is even now perfectly and definitively realized in God.

“When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

Mary is the pledge of the fulfilment of Christ’s promise. Her Assumption thus becomes for us “a sign of sure hope and consolation”

When we think of the Blessed Mother – whether it be as a young woman having Archangel Gabriel appear to her, giving birth to our Savior, asking for His assistance at a wedding (to change water into wine), or witnessing his dreadful but glorious Passion and Death, and then having Him appear to her after His Resurrection – in each case, whenever we see Mary, we should see the Church, and we should see ourselves. For Mary is the mother of the Church (one of St. Joan of Arc’s sister Churches, in Commerce City, Colorado, is named Our Lady Mother of the Church). Remember the scene at the foot of the cross, as our Savior is dying:

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 26-27)

The disciple Jesus loves is not only that one man, John, but every disciple who has not seen the risen Lord but still believes. We, each one of us who believes, are also the disciple Jesus loves.

So, when it comes to the Solemnity of the Assumption, it is important to realize that our belief that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life, applies to each of us personally. This is because what Mary has accomplished by the grace of God and by saying yes to God, foreshadow what each of us hope for.

We, too, as we continue to say yes to God and no to sin, as we continue to profess faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and all he has accomplished, we have the promise of our own presence, body and soul, in the new Heaven that will come at the end of time, when Jesus, our Savior, Son of God and Son of Mary, returns.

Even if, for reason of health or age, we are unable to attend Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption, let us, each one, praise God for the faithfulness of our Blessed Mother Mary, and the gift of eternal life provided by her Son.

In Christ the Servant,

Deacon Rex Pilger

St. Joan of Arc Parish

Arvada, Colorado USA

 

Deacons: Are there unique ministries in your parish that are helping to build the Kingdom of God? Why not tell us about them? Write up a description, send it to rexpilger@gmail.com, and we’ll consider it for publication on DeaconDen.

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