Two Great Women of Faith
Writing from Fitzroy, in Victoria, I’m mindful that it is the birthplace of Mary MacKillop and that we celebrate Australia’s first saint on August 8. For the Australian Church we acknowledge this special day as a Solemnity; a Feast day of the highest rank.
The Mass of Saint Mary of the Cross provides a beautiful Collect and a Solemn Blessing; these provide plenty of inspiration to write fitting Prayers of Intercession. Example: For Church leaders, that they lead with a spirit of humility and courage.
O God, source of all goodness,
Who have shown us in Saint Mary
A woman of faith living by the power of the Cross,
Teach us, we pray, by
To live the Gospel in changing times
And to respect and defend the human dignity of all in our land.
Through the example of St Mary of the Cross,
May you learn to recognise God’s will for you and trust in his providence.
May her life of service awaken in you
A deep respect for the poor
And a strong will for justice.
May you share in her courage,
See with the eyes of Christian love, And learn from her holy deeds.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Come down on you and remain with you forever.
Then on August 15 we celebrate The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. The Readings from the Mass of the Day are especially rich on this Solemnity and I encourage you to pray with these texts well before the liturgy. We hear the apocalyptic language of the Book of Revelation in the First Reading (Revelation 11:19: 12:1-6,10), which will require quite some preparation from Lectors; it is colourful and dramatic in its message of a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, dragging its’ tail towards a woman in childbirth.
It describes the battle of good and evil and the triumph of the woman safely delivering her child. Christians interpret the woman as either Mary or the Church and the reading was certainly a comforting one to a persecuted Church. The Responsorial Psalm speaks of the queen standing “at your right hand, arrayed in gold” (Ps 44:10-12,16) and the Gospel proclaims Mary’s Magnificat, her “Yes” to God, signifying her tremendous faith.
The Australian Liturgical calendar in August is a rich feast of two tremendous women of faith. Taking time to soak in the richness of these liturgies will be time well invested.
Ms Sharon Boyd
Professional Specialist Liturgy Education, ACU Centre for Liturgy