Aug. 17 is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, Cycle II). Aug. 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation. Pope Benedict XVI will say 8 a.m. Mass this day at St. Thomas of Villanova, near Castel Gandolfo.
EPriest.com offers Best Parish Practices.
Since Aug. 15 is our wedding anniversary, the day puts us in the mind of strengthening marriage. Our Lady of Good Counsel in the Archdiocese of Detroit has had success in doing just that through a six-week program promoting praying together.
The phrase “The family that prays together stays together” may have been overused and abused at one time — but Blessed Mother Teresa and John Paul II are among those who have said it, and it’s true.
The program offers encouragement and practical guidance about praying together as a couple. It was developed by Deacon Bob Ovies, former director of Detroit’s Archdiocesan Family Life Office, and his wife, Kathy.
More details about the DVD- and CD-based course are available at the EPriest.com website.
One recent Friday morning found Tom searching for the latest issue of Magnificat and Googling furiously. His question: “Is the Feast of St. James a solemnity?” The answer: It’s not. But the Assumption, which this year falls on Friday, is a solemnity.
Why does Tom care? Because he likes bacon with breakfast every once in a while — especially on Fridays, when canon law says he can’t have it. Actually, the U.S. bishops say he can substitute another sacrifice, but we have always liked the meat sacrifice because it is straightforward and provides us just the right amount of penance — not too much, not too little.
The Catechism (No. 1438) says every Friday has a penitential character. Says Canon 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities.”
This Solemnity of the Assumption morning, expect bacon to be cooking at our house.
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.
That old stereotype of the Old Testament being about God’s love for Israel and the New Testament about his love for all isn’t always true. Sometimes, it’s the opposite.
“The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,” Isaiah prophecies in the first reading, “them I will bring to my holy mountain.”
“O God, let all the nations praise you!” cries the Psalmist.
But in the Gospel, a Canaanite woman tries to approach Jesus for healing for her daughter, and gets a very frosty response, at first.
“Send her away,” say the apostles, and Jesus doesn’t correct them. Instead, he tells her that he is not here to serve her kind. He is here for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
She pleads with him and he answers harshly: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”
It’s only when she accepts even this humiliation that Jesus relents. He cures her daughter — and praises her for her faith.
The message isn’t so much about whom God is willing to help. As we can see in the readings, it was clear even in the Old Testament that God was more than a national deity, and that he intended to reach out to his whole creation.
The message is about the attitude we should have toward God. We can fall into the trap of feeling like God owes us something, like we somehow deserve the great gifts we have been given — our family, our nation or our religion.
The reading reminds us that this is not at all true. We are mere creatures, not more worthy of God’s gifts than the Canaanite woman. And we ultimately can receive them only if we show humility and faith.
We are Catholics, members of the Church founded by Christ on Peter the rock. But do we have the humility and faith the Canaanite woman showed?
The Hoopeses are
editorial directors of
Faith & Family magazine