As we prepare to celebrate our patronal feast, Mary Assumed into Heaven, each day of our novena clergy of the Archdiocese of Cape Town will offer reflections on Our Lady.
In this reflection for Sunday, 8 August, Bishop Frank de Gouveia, reflects on when and why she become Patroness of South Africa?.
This video is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please share these daily reflections on your parish WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms.
The text of the video is provided below, especially for those who are deaf.
“Welcome to this novena reflection as we prepare to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, Patroness of South Africa. Today we focus on: “When and why Mary Assumed into Heaven, became Patroness of South Africa”?
When, in 1950 Pope Pius XII formally defined and promulgated the dogma that Mary, “was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven”, he hoped that this would be of pastoral benefit for the people of God. And so in the encyclical which he wrote at the time, he says:
“It is to be hoped that from meditation on the glorious example of Mary [people] may come to realize more and more the value of a human life entirely dedicated to fulfilling the will of the Heavenly Father and to caring for the welfare of others.”
Human life is sacred. Caring for the welfare of others is of prime importance. God created us all to know, love and serve him. Mary dedicated her whole life, body and soul, to carrying out God’s plan. And so at the end of her life on earth she was taken up body and soul into heaven.
The human person, the human body, is created by God, redeemed by Jesus Christ and destined for glory. In 1950 the world needed to hear this message proclaimed loud and clear
People were still coming to terms with the devastating effects of World War II in which 75 million people lost their lives. The majority of these were civilians. Nazi Germany, as part of a deliberate programme of extermination, systematically killed over 11 million people including 6 million Jews. The world was shocked. How could we do this to one another? How will we recover?
The Church’s answer was: Look to Mary. Follow her example. Be obedient to God and carry out God’s intentions for the human race. Value human life. Respect the dignity of all. Be concerned for their welfare, their well-being.
At about the same time in South Africa, new apartheid laws were being promulgated. In 1951 Pope Pius XII established the hierarchy of the Church in southern Africa, and the following year 1952, the Bishops’ Conference issued its first pronouncement against racism. Clearly we in South Africa needed to hear the same message the world received with the promulgation of the dogma of the Assumption. In May 1952 Pope Pius XII proclaimed Our Lady Assumed into Heaven as patroness of South Africa. This was celebrated at a Marian Congress held in Durban to mark the centenary of the arrival of the first missionaries of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
And so today in 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, in the aftermath of rioting and looting in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, and taxi wars in the Western Cape, may we follow the example of Mary and come to realize more and more the value of a human life entirely dedicated to fulfilling the will of God and to caring for the welfare of others.
We conclude with part of the prayer prayed in 1952 when South Africa was consecrated to Mary assumed into Heaven.
O Queen, assumed into Heaven, with one voice we acclaim you our Heavenly Patroness, and with filial love we consecrate to you our country and our people. Through your prayers, O gracious Mother, may your Son be known and loved throughout South Africa; may His Kingdom flourish in our land, a Kingdom of justice, truth and peace. Teach us to follow in His footsteps, firm in the faith, obedient to His law, subjecting soul and body to His holy sway; that when our mortal life is ended, we may gaze upon His face in Heaven and share, as you, O blessed Mother, do already, the glory of His Resurrection. Amen.