The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin – Day of Rest
“Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come; thou shalt be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sinai and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards” [Cant. 4:8].
After the Blessed Virgin had been assumed into Heaven, she received the crown which her great offices and her merits had earned. Although God crowns His own gifts in His creatures, nevertheless, He crowns them by a strict justice and by the obligation of His promises. Man cannot think a really good thought without His aid, and yet His greatest gifts never infringe upon our free-will. He promised to reward the cup of cold water given to a disciple in His name. He promised a throne to the apostles, and St. Paul looked forward to the reward. “There is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge will render to me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them who love His coming.” As the merits of the Blessed Virgin tower above those of all the saints, so her crown far exceeds in glory. As she has an especial office in the mediatorial kingdom, so her throne is erected at the right hand of her Son. It was not enough, then, for her to be taken up to Heaven. All who enter that celestial palace are kings and priests to God, all wear crowns and bear palm branches of victory. The Mother of God must receive her crown, and take possession of her seat of honor. So, in accordance with Catholic tradition, we find her last and highest glory in the ceremony of her solemn coronation. Angels led her to the feet of her Son. He raised her up, and placed her by His side on the shining throne He had prepared for her, and God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost placed upon her head the bright crown. The Queen of Heaven was enthroned, to the glory of the eternal Trinity and to the joy of patriarchs, and prophets, apostles and confessors, virgins and all saints. There was nothing more that Mary could ask, for God, infinitely just and true, had more than fulfilled His promises. Here she found rest. – And when we look back through the wonderful life we have so faintly portrayed, when we consider its labors and sorrows, we find every mystery solved and all the divine providences clear. From the Immaculate Conception to the solemn coronation in Heaven, all God’s ways are in harmony. The same hand that woke creation out of nothing, and balanced the planets in their courses, formed and fashioned Mary, and led her from Bethlehem to Calvary, and from earth to her eternal rest. There is nothing wanting in this circle of the divine operations, and an overwhelming sense of the perfection of God’s works prostrates us in love and wonder at His feet. “O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy name on the whole earth. What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?” Mary had her great and peculiar privilege as the Mother of God; but aside from her divine maternity, she is the only model of a just soul. God called her, and she obeyed in every call. She was never unfaithful to His word or His grace. Hence she grew from day to day in knowledge and sanctity, and as the shining light she grew brighter and brighter till her light mingled with the perfect day of Heaven. The voice of her Beloved called her from Libanus to be crowned, away from the dens of the lions, and the mountains of the leopards, away from the habitations of the adversary, from the power of every foe. She had ministered to Him; now He will minister to her. She had seen labor and sorrow and martyrdom; now she enters upon an unending rest. In this path the great Sanctifier of souls seeks to lead us. We have our warfare and our hardships, and then our reward. Alas! We are so earthly and indifferent to divine things that we scarcely venture to look forward to joys eternal. Between sanctity and beatitude there is a natural and necessary relation, and conscious of our sinfulness, we dare not anticipate the bliss of Heaven. Many only aspire to be just free from sin which kills the soul, and have no longings for holiness. Yet this imperfect state between life and death is not the normal condition of a regenerate soul. We are called to higher things. Our Creator has chosen us for His own. He has breathed into us His spirit. He seeks a perfect union between our hearts and Himself. And when the intellectual man finds earthly things to be vanity, how shall the regenerate man be in peace when he tramples upon any of the instincts of his spiritual life? Is this, then, the lot of the pilgrim? Must we be ever contending with our enemies, and shall we find no rest this side of the grave? Yes! This must be our course until we shall be confirmed in grace. We have the world to subdue in every point, the devil to overcome, and, worse than all, our own self-love to extinguish. There will be no rest until these adversaries are vanquished. And yet, if we give up the battle we shall lose all, and even the hope of peace hereafter. Is it too hard for us to follow the steps of Jesus and Mary? a Are we not animated by Mary’s life and its glorious end? It is at least well for us to look forward to the consummation of our course, and the end of our warfare. There remaineth a rest for the people of God. We may persevere and find that rest, when no temptation can come near us, when even the memory of the past shall torment us no longer. God has a crown in store for us, a mansion prepared, where peace flows as a river and justice as the waves of the sea. The lions shall be chained in their dens, and the leopards confined to their mountains. The hope of this rest should be our consolation in the ever-changing battle of life. It is this hope which cheers on the saints in the wonderful labors. The grave loses all its terror. The spiritual world become ever near to us, and is more really present to us than the things of sense. And God Whom alone we seek, and in Whom we live, manifests Himself to us and often grants a foretaste of Heaven even while we are in the way. If He is so good to us here, what will He be when we see Him face to face? Mary, seeing God on earth and gloriously crowned in Heaven, is the picture of a just soul led by grace here and rewarded with glory hereafter. Let us ask of God to give us strength to follow her example, and let us begin now by a faithful correspondence with every inspiration of His Holy Spirit. Let our ears be open to hear His voice, and our wills quick to obey. Let our eyes be shut to the world, and open to Him alone, and His unerring providence will lead us safely. He will be our shepherd, and we can always exclaim with the psalmist, “The Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up on the water of refreshments; He hath converted my soul. He hath led me in the paths of justice for His own name’s sake. Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they have comforted me. Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it? And Thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”