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Jan 27, 2016, 9:57 AM
The feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Blessed Virgin is to be celebrated on Saturday, 15th August 2015.This annual celebration in the Catholic Church is a public holiday in The Gambia.The feast is both of the Catholic Church and for all Christians because Mary who is honoured is the mother of Jesus Christ.The Christian Church teaches that Jesus Christ, who came to this world and lived in it, had a mother who was Mary, the Blessed Virgin, a Jewish woman.Jesus Christ was born of a woman named Mary by the mysterious work or holy will of God (Lk. 2).
The Catholic Church made a proclamation of the teaching of the Assumption of Mary, the Blessed Virgin in the year 1950. The Church teaches that after her good earthly life in accomplishing God’s will to be the mother of Jesus Christ, God raised Mary, body and soul making her to attain a place in heaven.
In Luke 1:46-55, the song of Glorying God by Mary revealed God’s goodness to her. Mary in this song marvels over how God raised her from lowliness to be the mother of Jesus Christ the Saviour. This kindness and mercy of God has been planned by God from the days of Abraham when he promised Abraham to be father of a nation belonging to him.
Mary, the Blessed Virgin is a mere human person, a Jewish woman whom God made a choice of among all women. She is not a god or a deity, neither is she worshipped. In the Catholic Church, she is an icon of faith because of the belief that she accepted God’s will to be done. She was exclaimed a woman of faith whom God reward to be in heaven. For anyone who knows what the devotion in her honour means Mary, the Blessed Virgin, stands out as a model for all human beings to follow. So the teaching is, for any believer who wants to be with God in heaven, he or she needs to seek the will of God and humbly live by it.
The feast of the Assumption of Mary, the blessed Virgin is well celebrated in The Gambia especially at the Cathedral Church in Banjul. The day is marked with a high mass celebrated by the Bishop, priests, religious and the lay faithful. After mass the community would have luncheon sales, entertainment of different kinds to keep people together.
The day’s celebration would normally be concluded with the devotion of the holy rosary in honour of Mary. There is always a street open air procession in which the faithful sing hymns, recite the rosary and walk the whole length of the Independence drive. This procession ends at the Cathedral where the benediction and other prayers are done. Year in and out because the feast falls in the rainy season, the August rains do come down while the faithful process. These rains are interpreted as signs of God’s blessings – showers of blessings.
To many Gambian Christians the feast in honour of Mary or her assumption into heaven is always longed for because it is both a joyous spiritual, religious and social occasion where people gather to celebrate and meet.
May the prayerful intercession of Mary, the Blessed during the celebration of her assumption be for us all God’s blessings of faith, peace, hope and love.