Assumption of Our Lady
On this glorious day, dear to the hearts of all Catholics, Holy Mother Church invites all her children to turn their eyes towards the eternal homeland where Christ Our Lord reigns in glory and in which His Immaculate Mother is taken up, body and soul. The dogma of our faith teaches us that the body of the Mother of God did not dissolve into dust in the grave like the rest of the children of Adam and Eve. It was not fitting that the most pure Ark of the Covenant should be the companion of worms and slime. This dogma not only teaches us the great love and veneration Christ has for His Mother, but also, the great dignity of the human body which shall have its share in the glory of the new creation.
Today we are given to read and meditate once again Mary’s hymn of praise, the Magnificat, a chant so beautiful and profound that the Church has never ceased repeating each day at the office of Vespers.
My soul magnifies the Lord. What is it to say that my soul magnifies the Lord? Does not magnify mean to make greater? How then can a human being make God greater? Clearly, not even Our Lady can make God any greater than He is in Himself. The magnifying is not to be understood in terms of what God is in Himself, but in terms of how He is perceived by people. The souls of the saints, and foremost among them the Queen of saints, by the fact that they allow God to act in and through them, become, as it were, magnifying glasses through which others can see how great and glorious God is. In this way we see what a sacred gift to us are God’s saints, for without them we would be reduced to having only a very vague idea of who God is, but thanks to them, His real traits are shown to us in the virtues of His holy ones. Far surpassing all the other saints, the soul of Our Lady, that most pure, immaculate soul, created by God to be united with the virginal body that would give birth to His Son in time, that soul has been and continues to be the magnifying glass of the divinity. Mary helps us to see God better, to know and understand more precisely all the amazing things He continues to do in the world.
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. God is joy. God is everlasting joy. What is joy? Joy is both a passion and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As a passion, it is the happiness that we feel when we know that we are loved and that we are in the good, that we have good, that we are capable of good. Joy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit takes its source in truth and in love. Where there is truth, there is joy; where there is love, there is joy. What then must we say of the joy of the Three Divine Persons, who are truth and are love? Their joy overflows into creation, and the creatures that are the closest to God take the greatest part in that joy. Mary’s joy in Heaven takes its source in the very being of God. On this day, as her soul and body are reunited following her death, she is literally assumed into the joy of God. If it will be said to the good servants of God, “Enter into the joy of your Lord” (cf. Mt 25:23), what might we not say of Our Lady? Enter into the joy of Your Son. But even in this life, the joy of Mary was undoubtedly immense and unequalled in the lives of any other saints. Her greatest joys are commemorated in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, especially at the Nativity of Our Lord and at His Resurrection. But we can be sure that, as she was the most prudent Virgin who knew how to discern the spirits, she never fully lost her imperturbable joy, even in the dark night of the passion of the Lord, for her mind and heart were ever one with God. In union with God, what can possibly happen to take away one’s joy? It is much like the ocean, which may be tossed to and fro by violent storms, but the depths remain calm.
He has looked down upon the lowliness of his handmaid. It is sometimes hard for us to reconcile the lowliness of Our Lady which she here mentions, and her grandeur, which is so awesome that all generations call her blessed. How can this be? It is difficult only for those who imagine grandeur in terms of worldly fame and success. In reality, true grandeur consists in being fully conscious that all we have is a gift of God. Mary was the humblest of all the saints for the very simple reason that she knew better than anyone how much she owed to God, that is to say, everything. Indeed, if she is filled this day, it is because she was entirely empty of herself.
His Mercy is upon those who fear Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. God alone is great, God alone is holy, God alone is to be revered. When the Lord sees souls that have that wholesome reverence for who He is and for keeping His commandments, He shows mercy and He does so in proportion with the humility that He finds in them. That is why the mercy He showed Our Lady surpasses any other, for she more than anyone else knows and acknowledges her indebtedness to God. On the contrary, for those who do not fear God, there is no mercy; there is only terror. When people cease to fear God, then they end up fearing something or someone else. Throughout salvation history it is quite visible: whenever the chosen people distances itself from the Law of God and ceases to fear Him, it falls victim to dreaded enemies. The fear of God failing, fear of the enemy takes over. But when one truly fears God, then one knows that men can do no harm. Those who are still afraid of men, most likely have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.
At the moment, as the fear of God reaches record lows, much of the world finds itself in the grip of fear for an invisible virus. Fear, not the virus, makes us less and less human and distorts social relations. Social distancing is another word for mutual suspicion–the neighbour is suspected of being a danger and a threat, and the social fabric, already worn and torn, is about to snap. The answer to this situation can be find quite simply in the fear of God. When enough people turn back to God and learn to accept His commandments and observe them, then, but not before, can we hope for a restoration of a more humane, friendly world, a world in which the mercy of God is able to reach souls because they have learned to fear Him. His Mercy is from generation to generation upon those who fear Him. Mary assumed into Heaven gives us the hope that this is indeed possible.
A final consideration that we cannot omit on this great feast concerns the dignity of the human body. On this day, the first human creature is glorified not only in soul but in body. The flesh, the bones, the blood of the Virgin of Nazareth are today exalted at the right hand of her Son in Heaven, and this dogma of our faith underlines the inherent dignity of the human body. Here too, we have cause for hope, for this teaching has the potential to transform social relations. When more and more people open their eyes to the lofty destiny of our corporeal nature, meant to be glorified in Heaven with God, we will learn and rediscover the respect with which the body should be treated in this life. When one assimilates this truth, then it is no longer possible to abuse the body by killing, abortion, euthanasia, violence in any form; it is no longer possible to exploit the body, our own or that of others, for purposes that are unworthy of its dignity.
In the midst of so many tears, let us turn our eyes once again to the Heavens on this day, and ask Mother Mary to turn her maternal eyes upon us. Queen of the Angels, Mother most pure, abandon not our world become the prey of atheistic ideologies, torn apart by unnatural fear and ungodly pursuits; help us to rediscover the virtues you practiced in this life, your humility, your purity, your obedience, your charity. Inspire us with the sentiments of authentic conversion, and lead us to true sanctity, so that we may one day merit to see the glory that, on this day, you received from the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.