The Assumption: Our Lady … “a gracious reminder” because we’re forgetful.

The Assumption: Our Lady … “a gracious reminder” because we’re forgetful.

We need reminders.

Because we’re forgetful.

We need reminders of what’s true.

We need reminders that are unmistakeable.

We need reminding that God wants us… that God loves us.

God wants to be in relationship with us. He wants that to be part of our here and now. But we have to want it too. We have to choose to return this Great Love of God.

God’s Great Love of us is active. The love of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Spirit — “an eternal exchange of love” (CCC, 221) — has this plan of sheer goodness (CCC,1) — to draw us in.

It’s a plan that means we can be in relationship now. And for eternity.

Today’s feast of the Assumption helps to remind us of this Great Love — for eternity.

The Father sent his Son Jesus to seal the deal, to keep to the promise, that we are destined for glory in heaven. That means one day, by the unfathomable mercy of God, we may live body and soul in heaven, in union with the God of Love. That’s awesome, right?

It is an awesome — as in, full of awe — goal for our lives. It’s a real inspiration for being in relationship with God now, right? Like, why wait?

But it is a long wait (in our minds) to finally get there to heaven.

And even if we are longing for heaven, there are a few things we have to face before we get there.

That’s why we need reminders about how awesome this Great Love of God really is.

We still have to face death, for corruption of the body is one of leftover effects from Original Sin. And even though Jesus rescued us from Eternal death — death is no longer a dead end, but a threshold to the afterlife for our souls — it does not diminish this promise of union with God in our totality, body and soul.

We still have to face judgment. Our love still has to be weighed and measured, face to face by the lover of our souls, Jesus.

We still have to wait for the end of the world to have that total, remarkable re-union of body and soul with Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

That’s a lot of waiting.

In the meantime, we can begin to have this relationship with God now, thanks to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

And today, we have a gracious reminder — a reminder full of grace — about the future glory of heaven.

One Great Woman has already said yes to this Great Love: Mary, the Immaculate Conception.

This is why the Divine Praises of the Church mention Mary’s Glorious Assumption.

Since Mary’s humanity was perfectly blessed, perfectly pure — sinless — her response to the Father’s Great Love was perfect and immediate. Her relationship with God was so perfect that she responded to the Father as an obedient Daughter, a faith-filled Mother to the Son, and an incarnate Spouse to the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s entire life was a complete and total yes – a perfect choice — to the Great Love.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23-

All choices have consequences, right?

When the Father created Mary, He chose to make the future mother of his Son a sinless, perfect human person — the zenith of humanity. Since Mary knew no sin, the future consequence of this was that her body did not undergo corruption and death. Jesus brought Mary directly to heaven at the end of her life.

Mary’s obedient and Immaculate Heart always chooses the Good and the Beautiful. So her personal judgment was always in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Father’s will. In a way, her final judgment at the end of her life by God, was the same as when she was first created: she is perfect and without sin and, consequentially, bound for eternal glory.

God’s creation and redemption of Mary brought the consequence, the result, of the Assumption. Mary, taken into glory — body and soul — is “a gracious reminder”of that promise of future union with Christ — our own relationship — with God, who desired us from the very beginning.

Christ has risen from the dead, we need no further assurance of our faith. Mary assumed into heaven serves rather as a gracious reminder to the Church that our Lord wishes all whom the Father has given Him to be raised with Him. In Mary taken to glory, to union with Christ, the Church sees herself answering the invitation of the heavenly Bridegroom.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Behold Your Mother” (1973)

Just as Jesus’ Risen Body, is a glorified body in heaven, one day, we too, will have glorified bodies in heaven after the Final Judgment. (See CCC, 1060.)

Mary is our gracious reminder that all Jesus has said and done is true.

:::

Also on the Assumption:

From my archives: My favorite reading and podcasts about the Assumption.

1024px-Tizian_041

photo

Another feast day for Momma Mary — as Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Another feast day for Momma Mary — as Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe

IMG_0123Our Lady of Guadalupe is among my favorite titles for Mary. And though my circumstances prevent me from sharing very much here, I do have a few things you may like…

My favorite quote from this apparition:

“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”
(Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego)

You can watch a short video reflection about the feast day here — look for today’s date!

:::

Unrelated to Guadalupe, but now my favorite new Mary-related quote from Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation:

She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. 

(See Evangelii Gaudium, par. 286 )

And in case you don’t get the joke — or more importantly the catechesis — from Francis, see John 2, or the Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, or let Dr Ed Sri explain it all for you.

:::

From my Patheos archives, a cool post by Maria Johnson.

:::

From the Among Women archives, going back a few years to Among Women 37: my Blessed are They segment features details about Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the “Among Women” segment features a little Christmas miracle that took place in a little boy’s life… one of my friend’s who will forever be “God’s Will” to me.

:::

Photos and video of the Shrine to Mary in Mexico.

Book on the subject.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: a prayer, a paragraph, & a podcast

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: a prayer, a paragraph, & a podcast

Today’s feast day is traditionally celebrated on December 8, but due the Second Sunday of Advent falling on that date, the liturgical calendar moves the solemnity to today. I offer the following for your reflection today.

First: a beautiful prayer to our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, as found in Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, (60):

Mother, help our faith! 
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. 
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps,
to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. 

Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. 
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love,
especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross,
when our faith is called to mature. 

Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. 
Remind us that those who believe are never alone. 
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus,
that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us,
until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

Second: A paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 491):

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.  [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803.]

Third: From the Among Women archives: AW 80 where the first segment “Blessed are They” teaches on the subject of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Listen here.

This makes me think… about Mary as the New Eve

This makes me think… about Mary as the New Eve

In Mary, Eve discovers the nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity. This discovery must continually reach the heart of every woman and shape her vocation and her life.

-Blessed John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, par 11.

I’ve always been moved by this illustration.

evemary-reduced

Crayon & pencil drawing
by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO.
Copyright 2005,
Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

 

This makes me think… about one of my favorite stories about Mary on her feast day

This makes me think… about one of my favorite stories about Mary on her feast day

The key to understanding Mary is this: We do not start with Mary.

We start with Christ, the Son of the Living God! The less we think of Him, the less we think of her; the more we think of Him, the more we think of her; the more we adore his Divinity, the more we venerate her Motherhood; the less we adore His Divinity, the less reason we have for respecting her . . .

It is on account of Our Divine Lord that Mary receives special attention, and not on account of herself . . . It is her Son who makes her motherhood different.

A Catholic boy from a parochial school was telling a university professor who lived next door about the Blessed Mother. The professor scoffed at the boy, saying: “But there is no difference between her and my mother.” The boy answered: “That’s what you say, but there’s a heck of a lot of difference between the sons.” *

-Bishop Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God-

 :::

Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!!!

:::

*I write about this in Chapter 8 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

This makes me think… about Mary’s Fiat and Our “Amen” to the Body of Christ

In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.

-Blessed John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, par 55-

:::

I write about this theme in Chapter 7 of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

Mary’s Assumption… My favorite reading and podcasts on the subject

Mary’s Assumption… My favorite reading and podcasts on the subject

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 7.16.24 PM

The Immaculate Conception,
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y VELÁZQUEZ
(b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid)
c. 1618 Oil on canvas, 135 x 102 cm
National Gallery, London

 

The Praises of Mary

O how wondrous is the dignity of the glorious Virgin!
She merited to become the mother of Him
who is the strength and beauty of the angels
and the grandeur of all the saints.

Mary was the seat of our sanctification,
that is to say,
the dwelling place of the Son
who sacrificed Himself for us.

“And I shall glorify the place where my feet have stood.”
The feet of the Savior signify his human nature.
The place where the feet of the Savior stood
was the Blessed Mary,
who gave him his human nature.

Today the Lord glorifies that place,
since He has exalted Mary
above the choirs of the angels.
That is to say,
the Blessed Virgin,
who was the dwelling of the Savior,
has been assumed bodily into heaven.

-Saint Anthony of Padua-

My favorite homily from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the subject…

The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.

We have a mother in Heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: “Behold, your Mother!”. We have a Mother in Heaven. Heaven is open, Heaven has a heart. (Read the rest.)

-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI-

Homily, August 15, 2005

Fr William Most on the doctrine.

And my own thoughts on Mary, from my archives at Patheos.

Among Women podcast with yours truly reading from Christian classics on the Assumption.

Among Women podcast with several listener guests on “What I Love About Mary.”

This makes me think… about Mary… she is “greater” than the apostles

In the theologically grounded tradition the priesthood passes through man. The woman has another function in Christianity, reflected in the figure of Mary. It is the figure that embraces society, the figure that contains it, the mother of the community. The woman has the gift of maternity, of tenderness; if all these riches are not integrated, a religious community not only transforms into a chauvinist society, but also one that is austere, hard, and hardly sacred. The fact that a woman cannot exercise the priesthood does not make her less than the male. Moreover, in our understanding, the Virgin Mary is greater than the apostles. According to a monk from the second century, there are three feminine dimensions among Christians: Mary as Mother of the Lord, the Church and the Soul. The feminine presence in the Church has not been emphasize much, because the temptation of chauvinism has not allowed for the place that belongs to the women of the community to be made very visible.

- Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis)-

from On Heaven and Earth:

Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century,

Image Books, 2013, p. 100-101.)