Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. Share
25 10

Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell:
nor wilt Thou give Thy holy one to see corruption. 

--Psalm xv. 10

On the third day after Mary's death, when the apostles gathered around her tomb, they found it empty. The sacred body had been carried up to the celestial paradise. Jesus Himself came to conduct her thither; the whole court of heaven came to welcome with songs of triumph the Mother of the divine Word. What a chorus of exultation! Hark how they cry, 

"Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, 
O eternal gates, and the Queen of glory shall enter in." 

Why was Mary's body received into heaven instead of remaining in the earth, like the rest of mankind? The grave had no power over one who was immaculate. Her flesh could not see corruption. Her body had been overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; it had been the sacred temple in which had dwelt God Incarnate, and so it had a claim to ascend whither the body of her Son had already gone before.

But the chief reason was that as she had shared in each detail in the sorrows and agony of her Son, so it was right that she should take part in His triumph. To her it was due that she should without delay enter into the joy of her Lord, her Son, her God. Oh, happy Mary! what were all her dolors compared with the joy of that first moment of heaven! How light are all our sorrows compared with the eternal weight of glory prepared for us!

See the Virgin Mother rise,
Angels bear her to the skies! 

--Text from "The Devout Year" (Maria Magnificata), by Rev. R. F. Clarke, SJ. (public domain)

Dom Prosper Gueranger, in his masterpiece, The Liturgical Year, says of this day:

No other solemnity breathes, like this one, at once triumph and peace; none better answers to the enthusiasm of the many and the serenity of souls consummated in love. Assuredly that was as great a triumph when our Lord, rising by his own power from the tomb, cast hell into dismay; but to our souls, so abruptly drawn from the abyss of sorrows on Golgotha, the suddenness of the victory caused a sort of stupor to mingle with the joy of that greatest of days. In presence of the prostrate Angels, the hesitating Apostles, the women seized with fear and trembling, one felt that the divine isolation of the Conqueror of death was perceptible even to his most intimate friends, and kept them, like Magdalene, at a distance.

Mary’s death, however, leaves no impression but peace; that death had no other cause than love. Being a mere creature, she could not deliver herself from that claim of the old enemy; but leaving her tomb filled with flowers, she mounts up to heaven, flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved. Amid the acclamations of the daughters of Sion, who will henceforth never cease to call her blessed, she ascends surrounded by choirs of heavenly spirits joyfully praising the Son of God. Nevermore will shadows veil, as they did on earth, the glory of the most beautiful daughter of Eve. Beyond the immovable Thrones, beyond the dazzling Cherubim, beyond the flaming Seraphim, onward she passes, delighting the heavenly city with her sweet perfumes. She stays not till she reaches the very confines of the Divinity; close to the throne of honor where her Son, the King of ages, reigns in justice and in power; there she is proclaimed Queen, there she will reign for evermore in mercy and in goodness.

 

Feature Image: Assumption, Palma Vecchio; Inmaculada, Claudio Coello; La Inmaculada Concepción, Alonso del Arco (public domain)

Comments

To view comments or leave a comment, login or sign up.

Related Content

19
Piercing the Heart of a Saint
On August 26th, Discalced Carmelites and the community of Apostoli Viae celebrate the feast of the Transverberation (or Transpierecing of the Heart) of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Doctor, and Reformer of the Carmelite Order. The transverberation is a mystical grace wherein the Saint’s heart was pierced with a “dart of love” by an angel. St Teresa describes this experience in the Book of her Life: “Our Lord was pleased that I should have at times a vision of this kind: I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision, such as I have spoken of before. It was our Lord’s will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise. He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful—his face burning, as if he were one of the highest angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call cherubim. Their names they never tell me; but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another, and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it. “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying. “During the days that this lasted, I went about as if beside myself. I wished to see, or speak with, no one, but only to cherish my pain, which was to me a greater bliss than all created things could give me. “I was in this state from time to time, whenever it was our Lord’s pleasure to throw me into those deep trances, which I could not prevent even when I was in the company of others, and which, to my deep vexation, came to be publicly known. Since then, I do not feel that pain so much, but only that which I spoke of before—I do not remember the chapter —which is in many ways very different from it, and of greater worth. On the other hand, when this pain, of which I am now speaking, begins, our Lord seems to lay hold of the soul, and to throw it into a trance, so that there is no time for me to have any sense of pain or suffering, because fruition ensues at once. May He be blessed for ever, who hath bestowed such great graces on one who has responded so ill to blessings so great!” (ST. TERESA OF AVILA, THE BOOK OF HER LIFE, CHAPTER XXIX.) St. John of the Cross explains that this kind of experience happens “while the soul is inflamed with the Love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul, which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of Love. Few persons have reached these heights.” As God is good, this one act that literally touched the heart of St Teresa of Avila has gone on to spiritually touch the hearts of millions of people since. One person, also named Teresa, today, also, a Carmelite saint, is St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (aka Edith Stein). In 1940, she wrote this sonnet on the occasion of this feast day: From Heaven’s heights a beam of light here flashes, He came into the dark depths of my heart, The soul was wounded by Love’s flaming dart, Which penetrated all my limbs like lashes. Transformed since then is my entire being. Am I no more the same one that I was? That light has cleared away the dark, because I am like one who was once blind now seeing. Deep under me in unsubstantial distance, I see the world and all the rage of its states, Its buzzing noise does not reach me in this place. Eternal stars glow over my existence, And wondrously a bow of peace radiates, A gentle sign of God’s great mercy and grace.                              * * * The ray of heaven’s light allows me rest not, Thus what is lighted must become a light. The Light eternal sends me to earth’s plight: And so I turn to bear the world now so fraught. The love of God within my heart burns so deep, It gladly set the world in whole aflame. That love is homeless and attracts no fame, This causes pain and makes the faithful soul weep. It loves to let the golden stars shine brightly Into the deepest depths of earth’s darkest vale, With gentle light to penetrate the dark night. It wants to join both Heav’n and earth so tightly, And carry by the Holy Spirit’s strong gale The world aloft upon His wings into light. After St Teresa of Avila died in 1582, her body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. Later, when it was decided that her heart should be removed from her body and placed in a jeweled silver reliquary, it was revealed that her heart had a visible wound from the angel's dart. This heart, wounded by Christ's love, can be seen today at the Carmelite Monastery of Alba de Tormes in Spain.  Members of Apostoli Viae and Carmelites around the world are clothed in the Holy Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May God cover us in the mantle of Our Lady and guide us all along the way that is everlasting, the way tread by our holy sisters in Christ--Saints Teresa of Avila, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and so many others.  May our hearts never rest until they rest in Him. May our hearts be a light to others. May they burn with His flame, and set the world on fire with His love.   Images: Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gerard Seghers; La Transverbération de sainte Thérèse by Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich; The Ecstasy of St Teresa, by Francesco Fontebasso.
47
In the Desert with Jesus and Mary
Today, we begin our journey following Jesus into the desert.   Can you imagine?   He was just baptized in the Jordan, when, suddenly, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert. He looks back and beckons. Not with His hands. Just a look.   Come.   We set out, uncertain, but not entirely.  We know Who we're following, after all. We trust Him. We thank God for Septuagesimatide. It's nice to prepare for an outing like this. But there is no other outing like this. How can we prepare? By shutting our minds to the distractions. By pulling away from the world. By centering ourselves in Him.   The walk through the desert is arduous. The sun is hot. We knew this walk wouldn't be easy. But God has a way of making His yoke manageable. Thank Him for the breeze that cools the brow. The farther we move, the quieter it becomes.  There are no birds here to sing.  It's so quiet, you can almost hear the sun sizzling in the sky. The sand baking. The sound of sandals dig, dig, dig into the sand. The walk itself becomes meditative. The sound of our feet has a rhythm that quiets the mind. We are going deep into the heart of God's creation to find Him there; Him and nothing more.  What more could we ever need? What more could we ever want? Our Lord is there, waiting for us.   Imagine. We leave behind the notifications, tings, rings, beeps and boops. Leave behind the music that bores itself into our consciousness and haunts our subconscious; the videos and tv shows that usurp valuable chunks of our memories with less-than-holy images and ideas.  Here in the desert, we don't need to, nay, we can't even concern ourselves with what we're going to eat. There's no food here to obsess over or gorge on mindlessly. Here, we must rely on Our Heavenly Father to feed us with the sweet bread of everlasting life. Gone are the comfy and soft blankets and pillows that cushion our comfortable lives. Gone are the heaters and fans and air conditioners that keep us all at a comfortable level of temperature.  Why are we so afraid of being uncomfortable? This walk isn't that bad. We are at the mercy of God now. In the desert. His mercy is everlasting.   A dark night of the senses. Forty of them. We shut them down to hear Him better. To follow Him better. Leave behind the baggage of the senses, of the memory, and the wounds and scars. Follow Him into the desert. Will you?   But without all that baggage we carry around each day...  What do we do with our time? What do we do with our memories? Our monkey thoughts?   We focus. Focus them on God. Focus on His will. On His word. What a simple time.   Can you see it? Can you imagine?   Our Lady has joined us in the desert, as well, but her retreat is spiritual. She is with Jesus in her mind, in her heart. She is always close to Him. Watching. Praying. Our Lady of Silence. She speaks only when necessary, so that she can better hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She holds all things in her heart. All things worth keeping, that is. Her heart has no room for anything that is not of God. Why do ours? Why do we make room for anything else?   She knows the journey that we're on and she prays for us. She knows, in the desert, we will be closer to Him than ever before.   Let us ask for her help as we make our way and follow the only Leader we should ever know. Let us ask the Father...   Loving Father, I seek nothing more than to please You and grow closer to You. Purify my heart and my intentions this Lent, Heavenly Father. Bring me closer to You, to Your Son. Prepare a place in my heart and home for silence and solitude, so I can hear Your voice and know Your will for me. Help me fast from the things that threaten the health of my soul and body, which keep me attached to this world, and which create noise to prevent me from hearing and knowing You. Enlarge my heart so I can be generous, like Zacchaeus. Open my eyes, so I can see, like Bartimaeus. Open my ears, like you did for the deaf man. Heal me, like You healed the paralytic. Dispel the demons that surround me, as you did for the Gerasene. Bring me back from death, as You did to Lazarus. I seek nothing but Your will, Lord. I know that I can do all things in You.     Image: Christ in the Wilderness, by Ivan Kramskoy (c. 1872, public domain), with icon of Our Lady of Silence (artist unknown)