What Happened, O Mary, When You Assumed?
I hope none of you are scandalized by the title, and if you don’t get the joke reference, then that’s probably good. The Mystery of the Assumption isn’t something we can totally wrap our heads around. We can sort of picture the Sorrowful, Joyful Mysteries, and the Luminous Mysteries to a certain extent, but the Glorious ones seem hard to tap into. And if there are any Mysteries I’d want to experience concretely in myself, it would most likely be them! … But I’ve never witnessed anyone being Assumed into Heaven.
I can’t even tell the difference between images of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, so how can I begin to understand the meaning of these events so far surpassing my comprehension?
It’s also confusing- Mary was already so intimately united to God, so what changed? Well, I’m not a theologian so I don’t know the answer, but I assume (no pun intended) that for Mary, everything was the same and yet very different.
Although within the context of time, Mary’s life has never been disconnected from the assent, her Fiat, which she uttered at the Annunciation, her Fiat which was the visible and verbal disposition of her soul. Her very being was a manifestation of that Fiat. The rays of her Immaculate Heart depict the glory of the Risen Christ who made His Dwelling within her. So, in a certain sense, her transition from this world to the next was not such a jarring event. She didn’t experience the separation of Body and Soul that occurs for all of us at death, but instead was sweetly carried to the home she always contemplated.
With this frame of mind I feel even further removed from all things Divine, and it’s hard to get excited about this Mystical Event. It is true that the eyes of her soul always look towards Heaven, and that the trajectory of her life was always catapulting towards Heaven. But this arrival was not merely an extension or continuation of her earthly life. It was a fulfillment of promise, a glorification of apparent lowliness, an elevation to universal Motherhood.
I can only imagine a small sliver of the joy of the Heart of Mary when the veil of this life was lifted and she was permitted to gaze upon her God who called her His Beloved Daughter, her Son for whom her heart was pierced, and the Spirit who emitted His rays from her every word, thought, and action. Pondering Psalm 45, our Responsorial Psalm for today, which became my favorite Psalm in Religious Life, helps me see the delight of both Mary and the Lord, the explosion of joy, a never ending finale of divine fireworks. I’m sure the noise of that Heavenly Homecoming party would put all college fraternities to shame. The eschatological Richter scale was off the charts!
When I think of the life of Our Lady I still feel kind of jealous though. I wish I wasn’t stuck with original sin! So not fair! (I feel the inner 4 year old coming out!) But Mary, Our Mother’s Assumption wasn’t for herself alone. Just as her Immaculate Conception was for the salvation of our souls, so was the rest of her life. In her Assumption she offers us her Son, who in turn offers us His promise of Eternal Life, the glorification of our littleness, and the relationship with His and our tender Mother.
We will, God-willing, share her joy in the Heavenly Kingdom prepared not only for her but for us! So I pray that all of us can take this event and use it as an opportunity to open our hearts toward Heaven in imitation of her own, asking Our Lady to help us remember the promise in the midst of darkness, the meaning of apparent meaninglessness, and the protection and perpetual presence of her love that has its origin in the Heart of her Divine Son.
So what happened when Mary assumed? She received the ability to help make a saint out of you and me.