Mary’s Assumption gives us hope Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, a column by Fr. Donald Lange

The Renaissance painter Titian painted an inspiring picture of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.

Mary is dressed no longer in blue, but in the flaming red of victory. Escorted by angels, she rises majestically in the heavens into the glory of God.

The apostles stand below gazing upward with wonder and joy. The picture is so vivid that it almost appears to be a photograph.

First and greatest disciple

Mary’s Assumption is the end of her earthly life and the beginning of her life in Heaven where she intercedes for us. She is assumed into glory where she lives fully the risen life of her son.

As she shared fully in Jesus’s life on earth, she is now the first human to share completely in his victory over sin and death.

Mary is the first and greatest disciple. In placing the teaching about Mary within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council showed Mary to be the model of the Church for every disciple.

Her Assumption is God’s response to her faithful discipleship and openness to doing God’s will. Through the angel Gabriel, God asked Mary to be Jesus’ mother. She responded, “May it be done to me according to your word!”

God’s assurance

By being open to doing God’s will as Mary was, we hope to live not only in others’ memories, but we also hope to enjoy the fullness of eternal life with her in Heaven.

Mary’s Assumption is God’s assurance that our bodies, so vulnerable to sickness, injury, and death, will share in Jesus’ resurrection in a new and glorified way.

In No. 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into Heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords and conqueror of sin and death.”

Dogma declared

Pope Pius XII formally defined and promulgated the dogma of the Assumption in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus on November 1, 1950. When Pope Pius XII proclaimed Mary’s Assumption as dogma, there was a decreased respect for life and for the human person in the world.

In his 2004 Assumption homily, Fr. Brian Joyce, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Brandon Hills, Calif., stated that “The first 50 years of the 20th century included the slaughter and genocide of the Armenian people, the loss of 10 million lives in World War I, 40 million lives in the Russian Revolution, six million Jewish lives in the Holocaust, 50 million lives in World War II, and the invention and use of a new weapon of massive destruction called the atomic bomb.”

During this time there was also the spread of atheistic error, immorality, and amorality.

Pope Pius XII deplored this destruction of human life, and the shocking loss of reverence and respect for the God-given identity of every human being.

He stated, “I intend that the celebration of the Assumption of Mary might make clear the sacredness and high destiny of every single human person.”

Power of the ‘Magnificat’

Pope Pius was convinced that only inner transformation of the person could bring about the social changes that lead to “caring for the welfare of others.”

In the Gospel of the Assumption, Mary reveals God’s respect for human life. In her “Magnificat” she says, “Our God has shown the strength of his arm and has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts. God casts down the powerful from their thrones and he lifts up the lowly. God fills the hungry with good things and the rich he sends away empty-handed.”

One can easily see why Mary’s “Magnificat” made dictators of her time and today uncomfortable.

Our spiritual mother

Mary consented to be the mother of Jesus, who raised respect for life to new levels. From the cross, Christ made Mary our spiritual mother who watches over us.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s mother died of breast cancer when Thérèse was four years old. A few years later, Thérèse fought for her life during a grave illness.

At age 10, she was miraculously cured through Mary’s intercession. Thérèse visualized herself as nestling in Mary’s arms as the child Jesus did. Mary was her spiritual mother whose love changed Thérèse’s life.

Mary is also our spiritual mother who will never forget us, her children. She intercedes for us and helps us to follow Jesus.

She is sad when we, her children, are violent to each other and fail to respect God’s gift of life. She is truly the Queen of Peace. She expressed her son’s concern for the poor and oppressed in the “Magnificat.”

Mary’s Assumption gives us hope that if we do God’s will and imitate Jesus as Mary did, that through God’s merciful grace we will follow her to Heaven. In Heaven we will see God face to face forever and ever.

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.