Prayerful Reflections on the Assumption

St. Alphonsus de Liguori is one among the saints who writes that Mary died for sheer longing and love of the Savior. Below is a quotation from his seventh discourse, "The Assumption of Mary":

"And now death came; not indeed clothed in mourning and grief, as it does to others, but adorned with light and gladness. But what do we say? Why speak of death? Let us rather say that divine love came, and cut the thread of that noble life. And as a light, before going out, gives a last and brighter flash than ever, so did this beautiful creature, on hearing her Son's invitation to follow him, wrapped in the flames of love, and in the midst of her loving sighs, give a last sigh of still more ardent love, and breathing forth her soul, expired. Thus was that great soul, that beautiful dove of the Lord, loosened from the bands of this life; thus did she enter into the glory of the blessed, where she is now seated, and will be seated, Queen of Paradise, for all eternity." Glories, p. 420

Let us now consider how our Savior went forth from heaven to meet his Mother. On first meeting her, and to console her, he said: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come, for winter is now past and gone. (Liguori uses the imagery from the Song of Songs 2:10) Come, my own dear Mother, my pure and beautiful dove; leave that valley of tears, in which, for my love, you have suffered so much. Come from Lebanon, my spouse, come from Lebanon, come: You shall be crowned.(Songs of Songs 4:8) Come in, soul and body, to enjoy the reward of your holy life. If your sufferings have been great on earth, far greater is the glory which I have prepared for you in heaven. Enter, then, that kingdom, and take your seat near me; come to receive that crown which I will bestow on you as Queen of the universe. Glories, p. 427

The humble and holy Virgin, then kneeling, adored the divine Majesty, and all absorbed in the consciousness of her own nothingness, thanked him for all the graces bestowed upon her by his pure goodness, and especially for having made her the Mother of the Eternal Word. And then let him who can, comprehend with what love the Most Holy Trinity blessed her. Let him comprehend the welcome given to his daughter by the Eternal Father, to his Mother by the Son, to his spouse by the Holy Spirit. The Father crowned her by imparting his power to her; the Son, his wisdom; the Holy Spirit, his love.

Liguori continues by asking us to rejoice with Mary because God exalted her in such a way. But the saint also invites us to rejoice on our own account, "for though our Mother is no longer present with us on earth ... yet in affection she us always with us." (Glories, p. 436)


Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin
1502-03 Raffael (1483-1520
The Vatican Collection


Where is Mary? Where or What is this heaven to which she has been assumed? The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines heaven as:

This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity -- this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed -- is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. CCC 1024


Assumption in the Ghent Altarpiece
Completed 1432 Hubert Van Eyck (1366?-1426) and Jan Van Eyck (1380?-1441)


In Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI tells us why Mary, for our sake, was taken to heaven:

Mary, the New Woman, stands at the side of Christ, the New Man, within whose mystery the mystery of man (GS 22) alone finds true light; she is given to us as a pledge and guarantee that God's plan in Christ for the salvation of the whole man has already achieved realization in a creature: in her. Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man, torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish, of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life over death. MC 57


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