In 1950 Pope Pius XII officially recognized the assumption of Mary into heaven as part of divine revelation. The Church had believed this for many centuries, but the Pope was led by the Holy Spirit to make it official. Why then? In 1950, the world was beginning to realize that no one had won World War II or any other war. Every nation had lost, some more than others. A terrifying sadness was gripping Europe and beyond. A sign of hope was needed, and Mary assumed into heaven was a sure sign of hope. Today, receive a double portion of the Spirit. Be hopeful, and be a living sign of hope. (Adapted from Presentation Ministries)
This isn’t a post to define or defend why Catholics celebrate the Assumption. My apologetics skills aren’t the strongest — I lean on Joel, maybe too much, to serve that role. He experiences the faith intellectually, and I, well, rather practically. A match made in Heaven? In the event you’ve stopped by and are searching for more “guts” on the Assumption, I have included some resources at the end of the post for more exploration.
So what is this post about anyway? I’ve been holding close to my heart a story about how our Blessed Mother gave me hope, how she wrapped her arms around me and gave me a sense of peace like I’ve never felt. It’s hard to put into words because the emotions are still so real, raw, and very personal.
My story begins at Mary’s house in Ancient Ephesus (Turkey), a place said to be the last place Saint John took Mary to live, and a pilgrimage stop during our recent trip to Rome, Greece, and Turkey. It is a pilgrimage point not only for Christians, but also for Muslims given they believe Jesus is a prophet and honor Mary’s role in his life. Her home has become a place of prayer for Muslim women suffering from infertility, and many women make a pilgrimage to this sacred site on Fridays and pray for Mary’s intercession.
Upon arriving at the site, my senses were immediately up given I’ve also struggled with infertility and miscarriage. The second my feet stepped off our tour bus and touched the sacred grounds, I became overwhelmed with such great peace and grace, and I simply starting weeping. For the record, I’m not a crier; I get mad and yell, I bite my tongue and distort my face in every fashion so not to cry. Those outright emotions were foreign and a little uncomfortable. As my tears were falling, our tour guide, a very spiritual woman who sensed something special was happening within me, came over to me, hugged me, and simply said, “Let the tears fall. They will heal you.”
Upon entering Mary’s house, a simple altar welcomes pilgrims and their prayers. Our tour guide took hold of my hand and encouraged both Joel and me to sit to the side, out of the way from the other pilgrims. She even sat with us in prayer and allowed us some extra prayer time. During my prayers, I felt Mary holding and loving me, encouraging me with hope. I kept “hearing” that I needed to pray for two people. I don’t know if those two people are the two children we’ve lost in miscarriage, two more babies yet to conceive, maybe simply prayers for Joel and me. Time will tell. But for the remainder of our pilgrimage, I lit two candles in every church I entered and prayed for those two souls.
Friends and regular readers of the blog know I’m expecting a baby once again. We came home from our pilgrimage and a few weeks later discovered I was pregnant. Maybe that’s one of two souls I’ve been praying for? I trust the Holy Spirit will reveal in due time.
*UPDATE: This post was originally written and published in 2011. Today’s update, August 15, 2013, I’m actually expecting another baby again! So there’s at least two new souls!
Today, be hopeful, and allow the Blessed Virgin Mary to be your living sign of hope!