My soul magnifies the Lord…
The Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Sunday this year. It draws our attention to Mary and the mystery of the end of her earthly life. I don’t say her ‘death’ because we believe that she did not die. Death came into the world as a punishment for sin, or perhaps better said, a consequence of sin. Mary didn’t sin. She was quite human, more fully human than anyone except her own Divine son, but she was spared from the stain of original sin, the concupiscence that the rest of us have. Fortunate woman, yet she still had to courageously say ‘yes’ each step of the way and suffer the way that Simeon foretold, “and a sword shall pierce your own soul.”
It was the ‘yes’, an answer every human can freely give, that gained for her a full cooperation with God’s will for humanity. She permitted herself to be this chosen vessel. Finishing her life free from sin, free from any corruption of the body and its relationship with the soul, we believe that she immediately was ‘assumed’ into heaven. The eastern Christians call this a ‘dormition’, or ‘falling asleep’. There are several sites that claim this occurrence, two in Jerusalem and one in Ephesus, so we are not sure where it happened, only that it did. We have no tomb for her like we have for many of our other saints.
Pope Pius XII, wrote, in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (The Most Bountiful God), “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.” We see some remnant of this in the ‘incorruptibles’, those saints whose bodies have not decayed significantly since their death.
"You will not allow your holy one to see corruption" - Ps 15.
(See http://www.catholicapologetics.info/library/gallery/incorrupt/incorrupt.htm# )
Truths that apply to Mary are meant as well for the Church and the individual Christian. Church Fathers had a phrase, “Maria, vel Ecclesia, vel anima” (Mary, or rather the Church, or rather the soul). In relation to the Assumption it means that God desires to raise the Church to Himself as a spotless bride. The Church is being purified for this union. This may help explain the recent scandals that have rocked the Church. While courts and news media have been instrumental in pushing the issue, it is God Himself who is purifying the Church of abhorrent behavior on the part of priests and others entrusted with sacred ministry.
What is true for Mary and the Church is true as well for each of us individually. God desires each one of us to be prepared in holiness to meet Him some day. Life’s difficulties are painful, yet they can also serve to help us surrender to the transforming power of the cross, realizing our total dependency on God. Jesus said we must be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is perfect. This would be impossible relying on our own power. We must allow God to perfect us with His own perfection. One disciple who can help us the most is Mary. May we do something special in prayer with Mary this week?
The Church’s Oldest Prayer to Our Lady
O Mother of God, we take refuge in your loving care.
Let not our plea to you pass unheeded in the trials that beset us,
but deliver us from danger, for you alone are truly pure, you alone are truly blessed.
We pray for Brian Thompson …
as he heads back to school. Here is a prayer for him and all our seminarians.
Lord Jesus, we ask your special blessing on those preparing for the priesthood in our seminaries.
We pray that they will grow in faith, hope and love.
May their hearts overflow with your compassion, understanding and generosity,
and may their desire to serve you inspire others to answer your call.
Give them courage and perseverance and be their constant companion
as they prepare to serve you and your people with faithfulness.
Lord, give our seminarians the grace to continue to answer the call to follow you on their journey. When they are lonely or discouraged, comfort them with your peace.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, fill the hearts of our seminarians with the fire of your love.
Make them holy as you are holy.
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