The Church reminds poor mortals with their weak bodies to keep their eyes on heaven, for there are two human bodies there: the Body of our Lord through His Ascension, and the body of the Blessed Mother through her Assumption. On the fifteenth of August, each year, the Church commemorates the taking up of the holy body and soul of Mary into Paradise, where she was crowned as Queen of Angels and Saints. The Church does not teach that Mary did not die, but only that her body did not suffer corruption. If our Lord did not disdain to take on the sufferings of life to purify them, and the pang of death in order to conquer it, He would not dispense His own Mother from them. If He, the new Adam, would drink the chalice of sufferings, she, the new Eve, must have a share in them. But though she died, her body was not corrupted but assumed into heaven. The primal penalty of sin was the dissolution of the body: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return" (Gen. 3:19). But if corruption was the penal consequence of original sin, it follows that she who was preserved from original sin should also be preserved from its penalty, namely, corruption. Quite apart from the ancient Christian tradition concerning her Assumption, it hardly seems fitting that she, who gave the world Him Who conquered death, should herself be completely under its heel. Should not He Who, by His own Divine power, rose from the dead, use that same power to preserve His Mother from the grave, so that His Resurrection and Ascension should have their counterpart in a lower level in the Assumption of His Blessed Mother?
She was the flesh-girt garden of the new Adam, and it is unthinkable that the heavenly Gardener, once He had gathered His human life from her as a garden, should suffer it to be overrun by dust. The chalice that contains the Blood of Christ does not become a profane cup when once the wine of life is drunk. Only holy hands may touch it. There is no reason to believe that, once He conquered sin by His Resurrection and ascended to the glory at the right hand of the Father, He could forget the one who had given Him a human nature. A son remembers his mother even more in triumph than in battle. He spoke to her in the battle of Calvary; then He should not forget to call her to himself in the triumph of His Ascension. He Who received the hospitality of this spiritual Bethlehem would not be an ungrateful Host. As the homes in which great men were born are preserved for posterity, so His Home (which she is) would be preserved for eternity. If the innkeeper had only given shelter to that maid on Christmas night, history would never have forgotten his name.
It is incredible then that she who housed Him should not have immortality, not of name only, but of body and soul. If He Who conquered death ascended into Heaven to be a mediator between God and man, then should not she, who received the high summons to share in His Redemption, be near Him now in Heaven, to mediate between His power and our needs, as she did at Cana? Certainly she who begot Him Who empties all sepulchers should not herself be one of its first inhabitants. Corruption ought not touch her who begot our incorruptibility, nor should she whose virginity He preserved in motherhood be now a virgin body despoiled and ravished by death. Eve, our first mother, lent her ear to the tempting Satan and justly was returned again to dust, but Mary, our new Mother, who lent her ear to the Holy Spirit, could not be the prey of the self-same dust.
A church once consecrated may not be delivered over to profane use, nor shall the temple of the living God be profaned by the dust. Die indeed she ought, for she should have no other law than that to which her Son was subject; but corrupted she should not be, for she gave birth to Him Who broke the jaws of death. For a member of the human race, death was normal. Clothed with the power of God, dissolution would be abnormal. There are only two empty tombs in all the world: the tomb where the Resurrection and the Life was buried for three days, and the tomb where the Mother of the Resurrection and the Life was laid when she fell asleep in the love of the Lord. Mary's empty tomb was to woman what Christ's empty tomb was to man, with this difference: that only through His power was her tomb made empty.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
From Three to Get Married, by Fulton J. Sheen: