10.30am: Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow
There are many titles given to Mary such as “Health of the Sick”, “Comforter of the Afflicted”, “Star of the Sea”, but the one that rests most comfortably on our tongues in this very Cathedral is “Our Lady of the Assumption”.
The Cathedral of the Assumption here in Carlow opened its doors in 1833, and was dedicated one hundred years later! Apparently it could only be dedicated when the building was paid for.
The Cathedral in any diocese is that sacred ground where parish and diocese intersect. It is where prayers are offered, candles are lit, intentions are remembered.
The Assumption reminds us Mary’s life, like that of every Christian, is a journey of following Jesus, a journey that has a very precise destination coordinate with no knowledge of any ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), a journey into eternal life with God.
Mary has entered the fullness of union with God, she accompanies us on our journey, and so we pray …
The Feast of the Assumption reminds us that our goal is not to gain the things here on earth, which are passing , but the homeland above, eternity. Many still speak of that moment when Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon in 1969; Mary’s Assumption into Heaven is an infinitely greater feat.
There is no gospel account of the Assumption, which explains why todays gospel tells the story of The Visitation with Mary’s great prayer The Magnificat. The first reading from the Apocalypse and the psalm that follows fill in the Assumption account so to speak. These are the readings that inspired artists over the centuries to paint on canvas the scene of this day.
The tabernacle door in Bishop’s House has an image by Bagenalstown artist Anne Murphy of the five loaves and two fish. The Assumption is the birthplace of tabernacles right across the world. In Her body Our Lady of the Assumption became the first tabernacle. No need for art embellishment, she was beauty itself.
Mary is taken body and soul to heaven. The one who carried the Son of God in her womb for nine months, who cradled Him in her arms, who pondered what might become of Her son and who took Him from down from the Cross, is now carried as my late father might say “boots and all” into eternity. I’m not sure what use wellington boots were in eternity! Returning to Our Lady a we might pray today: “where she goes, we hope to follow”.
One of the new titles which I have grown to love around Our Lady is ‘Untier of Knots’. A devotion, favoured by Pope Francis, which he discovered during a sabbatical year at Augsburg, Bavaria. The image is essentially that of Our Lady untying knots, many of them of our own making. You know how hard it is often to get down and untie the knot in our shoe lace! May Mary, Untier of Knots, untie the knots that eat up our confidence and our ability often to function.
Bishop Robert Barren suggests Mary is not somewhere else, as somehow else, and this allows us to call on her this day and everyday, to intercede for us, to help us, to “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” And returning to that tabernacle image, we become the living tabernacles after we receive Holy Communion and are sent out after Mass. We are all hugely connected to this great feast.