The Feast of the Assumption of Mary
Today we celebrate a great feast in the Church, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. In the celebration of this miraculous event, there are two special themes that can help all of us as we try to live out our faith in more meaningful ways. First of all, this feast is a reminder that our God is a faithful and steadfast God. God will not let us down. No matter how dismal and disappointing events around us may be, God will be there for us and not forget to guide us in every moment. How can we be so sure of this? It was God who called Mary to participate in the great event of salvation, to be the “tabernacle”, the bearer of divine life, when she bore within her own womb the long-awaited Savior of he world. And this was all accomplished when Mary uttered those simple words, “Be it done to me according to thy word.” In this simple utterance, Mary was declaring that, though she could not possibly comprehend the mystery that would be unfolding within her, the whole aim of her life would be an unending, uninterrupted litany of saying yes to the Lord. In every moment Mary would be placing her trust in God. And, at the same time, God would be present for Mary, guiding her, comforting her, showing her the way. And, as our feast celebrates today, in the end, after the mission of her beloved Son was accomplished, Mary would be assumed into Heaven. Mary was faithful to the end. And her God was faithful to her, raising her up to new and divine life. One great message for us all today. Our God is a faithful God.
There is another special message on this feast day, however, one that I love to share with others when leading the rosary, specifically the glorious mysteries, when we meditate on the fourth and the fifth mysteries. In the fourth mystery, of course, we remember the feast we celebrate today, the Assumption. In the fifth mystery, though, we go even further as we declare that Mary, the faithful one, was crowned queen of Heaven and earth. Now, I would really like to believe that this happened. I would love to think of this moment as it has often been portrayed by great Italian and Flemish artists, and even before these great ones, similar images found painted in monasteries and on various manuscripts. Without fail, they portray Mary seated on a golden throne, surrounded by choirs of angels, dressed in beautiful garments. Truly a queen! But I have no doubt that this is not the moment when Mary became our queen, queen of angels and saints, queen of Heaven and earth. Rather, the first throne of Mary was hardly one of gold. Isn’t it true that Mary became our queen when she was sitting in the dirt and mud at the foot of the Cross, holding in her arms the broken, lifeless body of her beloved son, Jesus? We see Mary dressed in rough blood-stained garments, barefooted with callouses on her feet and gentle hands marked with the blood that flowed from the Cross. Isn’t this the moment when Heaven and earth stood still, even as Mary cried out her fiat, her eternal yes to the will of God, and Mary truly became our queen, the one who was assumed into Heaven because of her unending fidelity and trust in God? And so for us today! We are invited to remember these moments in the life of Mary and imitate them in our own way, day by day, always remembering that our God is faithful, if only we say yes again and again, and put our trust in Him.
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.