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Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary,
Years A, B & C,
August 14, annually

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

The presider may speak these before the first and second readings, and before rising for the gospel acclamation. Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

Vigil of the Assumption, August 14, annually
Before the first reading:

The "ark of the Lord" in this account means an ornate, portable chest. In it the Israelites carried the stone tablets on which Moses had inscribed their covenant with God. We often speak of it as "the ark of the covenant." It was Israel's most sacred object.
Between psalm and second reading:

Some Christians in the rambunctious community of Corinth disputed the gospel teaching about the resurrection. Paul corrected them at length. This short, poetic passage sums up his teaching about the resurrection.
Before the gospel acclamation:

[no introduction]

To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).

First reading, 1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2 [Jerusalem Bible translation (bottom of page)]

The Historical Situation: Israel had always moved the ark around with themselves while they were a nomadic people. To bring it to a permanent place prepared for it in Jerusalem was to say, in effect, "Our wandering days are over. We have arrived!" This explains the degree of ceremony. During some of its history, the ark was surmounted by two statues of angels. The Israelites believed that God was present in a special way in the space above the angels. Thus the Old Testament sometimes praises God "enthroned above the cherubim."

Our Liturgical Setting: The church, believing that the Son of God took flesh in the womb of Mary, gives her the title "ark of the covenant," and uses this reading on her feast. The scene in today's reading is recapitulated in Luke 1:39-56, tomorrow's gospel passage. There the pregnant Mary, ark of the covenant, comes into the presence of Elizabeth, who cries out that the baby in her own womb is leaping for joy.

Proclaiming It: You should read with excitement. You're describing a very festive event. Let you voice convince the congregation that what they're hearing was of the greatest importance to ancient Israel.

Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57 [Jerusalem Bible translation (bottom of page)]

The Historical Situation: All of chapter 15 of First Corinthians is about Christ's resurrection and our own. Some in Corinth had denied that believers are destined to rise from the dead, so Paul makes a long argument, of which today's reading is the finale (and tomorrow's is the kernel).

Proclaiming It: Of the sentences in this passage, the congregation is most likely to remember the taunting,

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting."

Say these lines with enthusiasm and irony. You're on the winning side, baptized into the risen Christ! While I don't suggest you sing these lines, you could do some very classy preparation by listening to the musical setting of this text in Handel's Messiah, specifically the alto/tenor duet in Part Three.

Another commentary on these passages:
Bible Study pages of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, Mississippi.
Saint Charles' introduction gives an interesting history of the feast.

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.

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Last modified: July 29, 2013