Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
The month of August is dedicated to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us ask our good Lord and St. Joseph for the grace to know and understand the Flame of Love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to place our trust in our Blessed Mother’s loving inter-cession!
This Sunday I share with you a meditation on the today’s Solemnity, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Heaven, Body and Soul. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
“The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Since the fifth century the Church has held implicitly the belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, body and soul, into heaven. It can be deduced from the Liturgy, from pious documents and the writing of the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church. The dogma was promulgated by Pius XII on November 1, 1950.
Mary is taken into heaven body and soul. Consideration of the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. (Gen. 3:15) Thus appears the Virgin Mary associated with Christ the Redeemer in the fight against and triumph over Satan. This is the message of the first book of Sacred Scripture, the Divine Plan Providence prepared from all eternity to save us. In the last book we find the admirable scene: A great sign appeared in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Entrance Antiphon: Rev. 12:1) The Virgin Mary enters, body and soul, into Heaven after finishing her life among us. The Mother of God arrives to be crowned Queen of the Universe. So will the king desire your beauty (Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 44:12), we proclaim in the Responsorial Psalm of the Holy Mass today.
The Apostle John was surely a witness of Mary’s passage to Heaven, since the Lord had entrusted her to him, and he would not have been absent at that time. In his Gospel, however, he says nothing concern-ing Our Lady’s last moments on earth. He who spoke of Jesus’ death on Golgatha with so much clarity and force, is silent when it is a matter concerning the one he cared for as his own mother, the Mother of Jesus and of all men. (M. D. Philippe, Mystery of Mary, Madrid 1986) Witnessed firsthand, it must have been like a sweet dream: Thou art she who, as it is written, appearest in beauty, and thy virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it’s life is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged, and sharing in perfect life (St. Germanus of Constantinople, Homilies about the Virgin, 1), an ancient writer relates. At the end of her earthly life, she is taken up into heavenly glory, body and soul. (Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution, Munifi-centissimus Deus, 1 November 1950) There, her glorious Son Jesus awaits her, just as she contemplated Him after the Resurrection. With Divine Power, God saw to the preservation of the integrity of Mary’s body. He preserves her perfect unity and complete harmony, without permitting the least alteration. Our Lady wins the supreme crown of her privileges, to be exempt from the corruption of the tomb. Over-coming death as her Son conquered it previously, she is raised body and soul to heavenly glory. (ibid.) The integral harmony of the Mari-an privileges points to it.
We often contemplate the Assumption of Our Lady in the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary: The mother of God has fallen asleep… but Jesus wants to have His Mother, body and soul, in Heaven. And the heavenly court, arrayed in all its splendor, greets our Lady. You and I - children after all - take the train of Mary’s magnificent blue cloak, and so we can watch the marvelous scene. The most Blessed Trinity receives and showers honors on the Daughter, Mother and Spouse of God… and so great is the Lady’s majesty that the An-gels exclaim: Who is she? (J. Escriva, Holy Rosary) We too, full of admiration, rejoice with the Angels, and we congratulate her on her feast day. And we feel proud to be sons and daughters of so great a Lady.
Popular piety in Marian art frequently represents the Virgin in the midst of clouds borne aloft by the angels. St. Thomas Aquinas sees, in these angelic interventions on behalf of those who have left the earth and are already on the way to Heaven, a manifestation of the reverence the Angels and all creatures render glorified bodies. (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, Suppl., 84, 1) In the case of Our Lady, all that we can imagine is little, nothing, even, compared with the way it must have been in reality. St. Teresa tells how she once had a vision of the glorified hand of Our Lord. Afterwards, the saint said, five hundred thousand suns reflecting in the clearest crystal were as a sad and dark night in comparison. How would the gaze of Christ be? One day, if we are faithful, we will contemplate Jesus and Mary, whom we have invoked so many times in this life.
The Blessed Mother intercedes from heaven and provides for her
children: Today the virgin M other of God is taken up into Heaven
to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection,
and a sign of hope and comfort for your people on their pilgrim way.
(Roman Missal, Preface of the Assumption)
Let us look at Our Lady, already taken up into Heaven. Just as a traveler,
gazing out to contemplate a vast panorama, seeks some human
figure in his surroundings to bring the distant objects into perspective,
so do we look towards God with amazement, but can identify and welcome
a purely human figure at the side of His throne. A ship has finished
its passage, a destiny has been fulfilled, a human perfection has
existed. Through her, His masterpiece, we see God’s relations with
humanity more clearly and with greater insight. (R. A. Knox, Sermon
on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, 15 August 1954)
Our Lady’s privileges are related to her Motherhood and, as such,
with our redemption too. Taken into Heaven, Mary is an image and
forerunner of the Church, still on the way towards Eternal Life. From
Heaven, she shines forth until the day of the Lord shall come, as a
sure sign of hope and solace for the people of God during its sojourn
on earth. (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 68) By the mystery
of the Assumption into Heaven, there were definitively accomplished
in Mary all the effects of the one mediation of Christ the Redeemer
of the world and Risen Lord… In the mystery of the Assumption
is expressed the Faith of the Church, according to which Mary
‘is united by a close and indissoluble bond to Christ’.(St.John Paul II,
Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, 25 March 1987) She is the assurance
and proof that, as her children, we will one day be in our glorified
bodies beside the glorious Christ. Our aspiration to eternal life gains
impetus as we meditate on our heavenly Mother above. She sees and
watches over us, with a look full of tenderness (cf. St.Paul VI, Address,
15 August 1963), with more love the greater our need. She also
has the specifically motherly role of mediatrix of mercy ‘at the final
coming’. (St. John Paul II, loc. cit.)
She is our great advocate before God most High. Truly, life on earth
is a valley of tears, we are called to make sacrifices and to endure suffering.
Above all though, we are not in Heaven yet. At the same time,
the Lord gives us many joys, and we have the hope of Heaven so that
we may look ahead with optimism. Mary is one of our reasons for
happiness. She is our life, our sweetness, and our hope: We feel the
affection of our Mother in our lives as Christians. We tell her, Turn,
then, your eyes of mercy toward us…Like her Son, she is full of mercy
and compassion. She never withholds her helping hand from anyone
who turns to her for help: Remember O most gracious V irgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection…
(Prayer of St. Bernard) May we make ever more of an effort to seek
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Heaven and earth.
May we fly to her, Refuge of sinners, and say to her: Show to us Jesus,
Whom we are in need of above all else.
For those who look to Mary in every circumstance, with the simplicity
and confidence of a child before his mother, there is great security and
joy. A Father of the Church writes: Just as the Virgin Mary was a most
docile instrument in the hands of the Lord, I desire greatly to be subject
to her service. Grant me this request Jesus, God and Son of man,
Lord of all creation and Son of your Handmaid. Allow me to serve
your Mother is such a way that You will acknowledge me as your servant.
May she be my sovereign on earth, so that You may be my Lord
for all Eternity. (St. Ildephonsus of Toledo, On the Perpetual Virginity
of Holy Mary, 12) We need to examine the quality of our daily dealings
with her. If you feel proud to be a Son of Our Lady, ask yourself:
How often do I express my devotion to the Virgin Mary during the day,
from morning until night? (J. Escriva, The Forge, 433) - the A ngelus, the
Holy Rosary, the three Hail Mary’s before going to bed…
Our Lady’s Assumption, hope of our own glorious resurrection:
Blessed is the wom b of the Virgin Mary; she carried the
Son of the Eternal Father. (Communion Antiphon for the Vigil Mass: cf.
The Assumption of Mary is a wonderful precursor of our own resurrection.
It is made possible through Christ’s rising from the dead. He will
refashion the body of our lowliness, and conform it to the Body of His
glory. (Phil. 3:21) St. Paul also reminds us in the Second Reading of
the Holy Mass: A s death came through one man (through the sin of A dam),
through the one man Christ has the resurrection also come.
Through Him, all things will be restored to life, but each one in its proper
order. Christ as the first fruit, and then after the coming of Christ,
those who belong to Christ. After that will come the end, when He delivers
the Kingdom to God the Father. (1 Cor. 15:20-26) The Apostle
writes here of Christ’s coming. In the unique case of the Blessed Mother,
shouldn’t it be fulfilled ‘immediately’ when her earthly life ends?
Life for all mankind ends in death. In the case of Mary, Tradition more
aptly refers to it as the dormition’. ‘Assumpta est Maria in caelum,
gaudent Angeli! Et gaudet Ecclesia!’ For us, the solemnity today is like
a continuation of Easter, the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord. It
is, at the same time, a sign and source of Hope for Eternal Life and the
future Resurrection. (St. John Paul II, Address, 15 August 1980)
Today on the Solemnity, our petitions are full of confidence. Our A dvocate
rose up to Heaven, so she will arrange for our salvation as Mother
of the Judge, the Mother of Mercy. (St. Bernard, Homily on the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1) She continually strengthens our
Hope. We are still pilgrims, but our Mother has gone before us, and is
already pointing to the reward of our efforts. She reminds us that it is
possible to reach it, and that if we are faithful, we will in fact do so. The
most Holy Virgin is not only our example: She is also ‘Help of Christians’.
In light of our petition -‘Monstra te esse matrem.’ ‘Show us that you are our Mother’ (Liturgical Hymn ‘Ave Maris Stella’) - she could
not, nor would she ever, deprive her children of her motherly care.
‘Cor Maria Dulcissimum, iter para tutum.’ ‘Most Sweet Heart of
Mary, prepare a safe way for your own’. Guide our steps on earth
with strength and security in our path on earth. Become for us the
path we are to follow, since you know the way and the quick and most
direct passage-ways that lead through love of you to the love of Jesus
Christ. (J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 177-178)” (From: In Conversation
with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, assumed into Heaven, St. Joseph,
St. Michael and St. Paul, may God grant us the grace of a true devotion
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
In Christ through Mary,