History Lesson During Assumption Day

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If you’re Catholic, the term “Assumption Day” would not be any mystery to you.  For my non-Catholic friends, Assumption Day is on 15 Aug and is the day we Catholics celebrate the assumption of Mother Mary into heaven.  So…it’s a big deal in the sense that when it falls on a weekday, we have to go for mass as it’s a day of obligation.

So, me being busy me, I couldn’t go to church for Assumption Day mass until after my major meeting which ended only at 7.30pm.  I had googled the mass times earlier and found out that a nearby church had a Mandarin mass at 6pm, followed by another English session at 8pm.  Perfect, right?

I was a little late so when I arrived at church, the introductory hymn was being sung.  Initial reaction: “Am I hearing things right? They’re singing in Mandarin!”  But…this was the latest mass in the whole of Singapore!! I had no choice.  I had to sit through an entire mass in Mandarin.  Last time I did this was 8 years ago in Beijing.

Anyway, it was an interesting experience.  Not so much because it was in Mandarin (although that was a little surreal to me) but rather because of the homily which turned out to be a history lesson crouched in a thick layer of bias and sounded like it was a rant mixed with scolding and teaching.  In other words – naggy but backed up with historical facts.  What comes next is a translated version:

“All of you (points and wags finger)! All of you! All you believers! Listen to what I have to say and believe me. It is not written anywhere in the Bible that Mary rose up to heaven body and soul! But yet, we Catholics can’t bear the thought that Mary’s body is being buried in some tomb rotting and being eaten away by worms so we believe that she rose up to heaven. But there’s no written proof! However, people have believed this for 1950 years! It was only in 1950 that Pope Pius presented the dogma stating that Mary rose to heaven body and soul! Know what a dogma is? It means that if you disagree, you’ll be excommunicated!”

I was starting to feel rather uneasy and I was wondering what this priest was trying to incite at this moment.

“So why was the dogma written? You must remember that in 1950, it was 5 years after 2 world wars.  (cue long ramble about World War 2 and a strangely biased reason as to why it ended) So…this dogma came about to rouse people’s spirit and to remind everyone, every believer that your life is precious.  It came from God and one day, it will return to God.  It is also at this same time where abortion was declared to be immoral by the Church.

Remember the first reading which talked about the woman cloaked with the sun and the moon at her feet? That’s not Mary! That’s not referring to Mother Mary! It’s stated in the reading that the woman fled to the wilderness.  The woman is the Church! The Church is now in the wilderness and in constant battle between what’s right and wrong!”

When I mentioned this whole homily to my mum, she said that Mary mentioned to the children in Medujorie  (pardon the misspelling) that she indeed had risen to heaven, body and soul. However, I cannot verify this.

There were a lot of other words that he used which I felt was rather prejudiced but nonetheless, I reckon that this priest’s main message was rather clear.  I just felt that instead of confusing the church goers, perhaps he should’ve toned down on his prejudices and just state his main topic, which was: we need to live our lives fruitfully, morally and justly – no matter what society says.  This is because one day, we will return to God and when we live righteously, honouring God in our lives, God will also honour us.  Amen.

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