We’re interrupting this service… As an aside during the posts about Forming Intentional Disciples, I wanted to put out a few thoughts on the beautiful feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, which we celebrate today. These have been spurred on by a few messages on Twitter, the first from Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, the Bishop of Parramatta in Australia:
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. May we, like her, be faithful to the end. — Bishop Fisher OP (@AnthonyFisherOP) August 14, 2013
At the feast of the Annunciation we rightly celebrate Mary’s humility. We celebrate her fiat, her ‘Yes’ to God’s will for her life, and we hold up her humility as a paradigm of human virtue. Mary relies not on her own merits or ability, but entirely on the will of God, despite her own fears and anxieties. Her human obedience to divine providence is a beautiful example to us, but also the start of a life for her marked by unimaginable pain and suffering, not least as she stands at the foot of the Cross – Our Sorrowful Mother – and witnesses the sacrifice of her Son. Her obedience leads her to this suffering, and one might well ask (if the story ended there) if a loving God could truly demand such obedience in return for so little a reward.
At the feast of the Assumption, though, her real reward is made clear. We celebrate this feast because of Mary’s sinless conception; because without the stain of original sin, she need not pass through death. Nevertheless, it is by her obedience to the Lord’s will that she enjoys the fruits of the salvation won for us by her beloved Son. The Assumption, then, is also a celebration of Mary’s humility. Through her obedience to God, Our Lady now reigns as Queen of Heaven. Despite the sufferings she endured on earth, she remained constant and faithful to her initial response – her vocation, we might say – and all without the knowledge of the heavenly reward that awaited her. Mary remained entirely reliant on the will of God for her, even in the face of seemingly godless acts of violence and horror. This not only takes immense courage, but also great humility – a great sense of resting in the arms of the Father. The second tweet that nudged me to these thoughts sums this up beautifully, in words from The Furrow, one of the beautiful books of meditations by St Josemaria Escriva:
— St Josemaría Escrivá (@St_Josemaria) August 15, 2013
This humility is ours to gain. This complete reliance on the will of God for us – modelled so perfectly by Mary – is open to us, if we too have the courage to accept. Our fidelity to Christ and our obedience to his will for us may bring us many difficulties, even sufferings, but if we, like Mary, are constant and faithful to the obedience to which the Lord calls us, we too may one day enter that place of perfect peace and rest: the eternal presence of the Lord. May our blessed Lady, Mary, Queen of Heaven pray for us, that we might be inspired to follow her example and, we pray, be made fit to follow her to the courts of her Son.