By Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.
I enjoin you today to contemplate with me the beauty of this weekend’s commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption beginning with this recent quote from Bishop Robert Barron’s writings. Bishop Baron is an Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Director of WORD ON FIRE ministries.
“When we speak of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother’s body, we are not envisioning a journey through space, as though Mary moved up into the sky. The “heavens” are a rich and consistent biblical symbol for the transcendent, for a manner of existence that lies beyond our familiar dimensions of space and time.
He goes on to say: “The Assumption of Mary means that the Blessed Mother was “translated,” in the totality of her being –
This means she achieved the fullness to which God intends for all humanity –imaged in the Resurrected Body of Jesus Christ –a complete unity of body, soul, and spirit free from all the limitations of biology and physics as we know it.
Bishop Baron goes on to write that this fulfillment is what we mean when we use the term “heaven.”
He explains further: “Mary, who exists now in this other world, is not so much somewhere else as somehow else, and this helps to explain why we can speak of her, especially in her heavenly state, interceding, helping us, and praying for us and with us.”
Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what Saint Thomas Aquinas said long before him. Not surprisingly, Pope Emeritus Benedict and our current Pope Francis affirm the same.
In this way, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is inviting us to expand our minds and imaginations and our prayer life with more mystical dimensions, allowing us to become more comfortable with MYSTERY – a primary component of what it means to have a MATURE faith.
Such Mystical Mystery concepts confirm our communion with all the Saints and all people of faith and goodwill who have gone before us. The Feast of the Assumption of Mary, All Saints, All Souls, and all the Saints Days give us the assurance that we can, in fact, pray with them and ask for their intercession with God because we are united with them in Christ Jesus, all part of His One, Mystical Body.
We who are Jesus’ disciples have the significant privilege to know and embrace a foundational Christian truth – that through the Holy Spirit CHRIST is extensive, expanding His Essence from Age to Age in people of faith that whether we may deem people as “living “or “deceased,” all are and always shall remain alive.
Therefore, although we use the language of metaphor to engage our imaginations to try and capture a bit of the profound mystery Jesus’ Resurrection and Mary’s Assumption and the promise of Eternal Life, our faith and our ongoing reception of the Sacraments confirm this reality. Furthermore, today’s Feast reminds us that Mary is the first great and magnificent disciple leading the way promised to all who live by the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Beatitudes.
Thus, to pray to Blessed Mary is to pray to CHRIST in her –who not only held the Christ in her womb and in her arms but who lived the WORD OF GOD as Scripture says, as Jesus said, and thus epitomizes Christ LIFE in all of us, just as the Eucharist instills in us not only a consciousness, an image but a deep reality that we are continually being transformed into a CHRIST extension, if you will, in our place and our time.
It’s time we confirmed once again the essential connection between the Eucharist, JESUS and Mary and the Saints because they manifest for us what we are — a priesthood of all believers destined for a new reality which Scripture calls “A New Heaven and a New Earth.” Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is within us, Christ is among us, Christ inspires us to full cooperation with Him. Applying His Will, God’s Will, to our hopes, dreams, and goals, just as Mary did, we will join Mary in the pattern of Resurrection Transformation that Jesus set for all. Thus, Mary’s Feasts are our celebrations of Christ in Us, too. Mary lived the reality of heaven in her life and remains in that heavenly peace now and forever. So, too, may we!