August 15 is one of the greatest feast days in the calendar of the Catholic Church, celebrating the Church's belief that at the end of her life on earth, the Virgin Mother of God was taken up, body and soul, into Heaven, where she is Mother of the Church as well as the Mother of God.
Scripture records her assent to the Angel to be the Mother of the Redeemer, her role in Jesus' first miracle at Cana, her faithful presence in his public ministry, at his death, and finally with the first Christians at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Over 2000 years, she has protected the Church and showered believers with blessings, vindicating the words of the Magnificat, "Henceforth, all generations will call be blessed; for he that is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name" (Luke 1:48).
The universal Church has taught that certain great feast days, including the Assumption, are Holy Days of Obligation, when the faithful are to attend Mass; but this practice has been abandoned in Australia over the past twenty years or so. To strengthen devotion to Mary, as Mother of the Church, it would be timely for the Bishops Conference to reaffirm this, and the other prescribed Feast Days, as Holy Days of Obligation.
As with fasting and abstinence - formerly so much an integral part of being a Catholic - Holy Days of Obligation have been allowed to fall into disuse, with a consequent impact on the Church's sense of identity in a predominantly secular culture.
Peter Westmore: Publisher (email - firstname.lastname@example.org)