The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin – Day of Union
“Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” “Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her Beloved?” [Cant. 6:9, 7:5]
All God’s works are complete and perfect. There can be nothing wanting in the harmony of His operations. It was fit that when for love of us He proposed to become incarnate, He should prepare a mother as worthy as possible of Himself. It was fit that that mother should be the purest and most holy of creatures. Anything less than this would shock our ideas of His infinite perfection. So was Mary created a very marvel of purity and grace. And all the providences of God conspired to dignify and sanctify her. God ever treated her as His Mother, and will ever treat her a such throughout eternity. It would be impossible for any human creature to honor her as He has honored her. Any other course than this would be unworthy of Him, and a derogation from His divine perfection. We have meditated upon the life and death of Mary. It now remains to see that glory which she had merited, and which her Son was bound to give her, both by justice and by filial love. The holy soul of the Blessed Virgin had found its glorious place in Heaven, but this was not enough for the Mother of God. Of her sinless and virginal body the Son of the Highest was born. He was enthroned in the very flesh and blood which He drew from her. It was meet that her body too should put on immortality, and take its share in the mediatorial kingdom. Her own great sanctity merited this of God. Enoch and Elias had been translated in the days before the incarnation. The saints of the old law who had risen with Christ, had followed His triumphal ascent. Why should she, who had been holier than all, be kept in waiting till the day of judgment? If sanctity were any title to this privilege, her claim was beyond that of all others. But she was conceived without sin, and freed by special grace from all the effects of the original curse. Death was one of these effects, with its heritage of shame and corruption. Mary was not under the law of death, and the grave had no claim upon her body. Why then should she be condemned to lie in the earth, and see the ignominy of desolation? Besides, it could never accord with the great plan of redemption that the Mother of God should know corruption. Decay could not touch the flesh of Jesus, because it was the flesh of God. In like manner the sacred body of which He was made was to be preserved intact. When the Son was ascended on high, the Mother yearned for her Child, but the Child no less yearned for the Mother. Mary was no more a Mother than Jesus was a son. His human heart yearned continually for the glory of His redeemed, and above all for the honor due to His Mother. He could not sit down in the eternal throne in the flesh which He took from her, with her very lineaments and features, and leave her to the shame and penance of corruption. Moreover, the great office which she was to discharge required her complete glorification, her presence in body and soul to intercede for fallen man, and to bring him to a perfect restoration. These motives, which are taught us by the analogies and necessities of faith, are sufficient to warrant us in demanding, in advance of any revelation, the assumption of the Blessed Virgin. In accordance with all these reasonings the Church of God comes in with her constant belief and universal teaching, and bids us give thanks to God, and rejoice because the lowly Virgin has been exalted to the right hand of her Son in Heaven.
When the few days of mourning for the loss of Mary were over, the apostles bore her incorrupt and fragrant body to the valley where Jesus had taught and suffered. There they laid her in a new tomb as they had laid their Master. And there they came day by day to watch and pray. If was a quiet spot, which reminded them of their Lord, and which seemed like the antechamber of Heaven. There lay the “pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense, and of all the powders of the perfumer.” It was she of whom the Beloved said, “My sister, my spouse is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the orchard. Cypress with spikenard, spikenard with saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon, with all the trees of Libanus myrrh and aloes, with all the chief perfumes.” One day the disciples came to the tomb, and the body of the Virgin was gone. The door was open and the grave-clothes were laid upon the empty stone. Angels were singing their canticles of praise, telling how the Lord came down in power and bore in triumph the most beautiful body of His Mother into Heaven. There was a triumphal ascent, as when He first led captivity active, a gorgeous procession of angels to participate in the joy of the Incarnate God. This was all that man could know. But what must have been the joy of the Blessed Trinity, of the angelic spirits, and of Mary herself. God the Father welcomed His own daughter, in whom He had ever been well pleased. The Son clasped to His bosom His own Mother, and she was pillowed once more upon the sacred Heart. “I to my Beloved, and my Beloved to me.” The Holy Ghost was the support of His spouse in that consuming glory which no unaided creature can bear and live. Angels and archangels and seraphs crowded around the throne to bless the great Creator for this most perfect work of His hand. And Mary herself was lost in transports of wonder and love. Now she had found a perfect union with her Son. In soul and body she was His, and never could she be separated from Him. She “found Him Whom her soul loved, she held Him and would not let Him go.” The glory which belongs to her as the Mother of God it is not for us to imitate, and yet the path which she trod is open to all her children. Unworthy, and sinful as we are, the Son of God redeemed us, and His redemption signifies our complete union with Himself. He could have redeemed us in other ways; He has seen fit to redeem us by taking our nature. So He purposes nothing less for us than the glorification of our souls and bodies in His eternal kingdom. Our bodies shall indeed sleep in the dust and be mingled with the earth; but if they sleep in Him, the day of final resurrection shall call them to His right hand, to the feet of His Blessed Mother, to the unending joys of Heaven. We shall find perfect union to God, and He alone shall fill every faculty of body and soul. In anticipation of this great commandment let us seek now to draw closer to Him, and learn to turn from everything which would separate us from His love. He is a jealous lover of souls, demanding for His nuptial embrace a heart wholly pure and wholly detached from earthly things. In proportion as we seek Him, shadows shall flee away, darkness shall be driven out of His dwelling place, and He will take us by the hand and gently lead us. Would to God that we were ready for His espousals. But we must first seek purity from every sin, and every affection to sin, and then by a pure intention seek and follow His footsteps. As Mary is our model, so shall she be our guide.