"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Feast of the Assumption

What I love about this feast is that it affords us a beacon of hope during the dog days, which have never been pleasant for most people in the so-called temperate zones and are worse than ever for students now that the academic year begins during them. As I worked in a 100+-degree warehouse this afternoon, it was that hope which buoyed me.

The hope is that we will be as the Mother of God now is: living forever in body, as well as soul, suffused by the glory of God. That is what the doctrine of the resurrection of the body holds out as the unimaginably blessed state of those who love their Savior in this life by keeping his commandments. ("If you love me, you will keep my commandments.") Thus the doctrine of the Assumption fleshes out the real point of Mariology, which is to "punctualize" in a real person what it is to be a disciple of Christ, and thus to facilitate our growth in that discipline. Mary was the first and foremost disciple of her divine Son; as such, the intercessions she makes to and through him are the most efficacious there are among those offered by mere humans. As even the Muslims recognize, truly she is the Mother of all as well as Mother of the Church.

I speak of the "point" of Mariology because it is so often missed even by those who, in their heart, really know it. By divine fiat Mary helps, more than any other member of the Mystical Body, to incorporate us into that Body, which began in her womb. Her "immaculate conception" in the womb of her own mother—i.e. her miraculous preservation from original sin—made her, in a unique way, what we all become at the moment of our baptism: a vessel filled with God's unmerited grace, which in the primary sense is nothing other than his divinizing love. The virginal conception of Jesus in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit made her, in a unique way, what we are all called to be in virtue of our baptism: bearers of God in the flesh into the world. Her "assumption" into heaven at the end of her earthly life made her, in a unique way, what all the blessed will be on the Last Day. In every way her life anticipates what we are to be, and helps us get there by the very forms of the anticipation.

I have heard very few priests discuss or even note the fact that, in the only terms that ultimately matter, Mary is the most powerful of mere creatures. Unlike most powerful people, she is also readily accessible. You cannot go wrong if you seek her intercession, in faith and love and according to the teaching of the Church. You might not have an easy or gratifying life on earth; but to the extent you put yourself under her care and protection, you will stay on the path to your true destiny in God. I am convinced that, if and when I reach it, I will find that she had a great deal to do with it.

Salve Regina, mater misericordiae!
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