Once again, I emerge from a huge span of time spent without blogging. Happy Feast Day. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the hardest theological dogmas of the Church to understand and explain. We have enough Marian love to defend, and then we come upon a feast day (a solemnity, no less) smack dab in the middle of summer Ordinary Time, devoted to something most Catholics have never realized they don’t really understand. Judging by the attendance at the Assumption Vigil Mass at St. Mark’s last night, that lack of understanding leads to a lack of caring about showing up for the Holy Day of Obligation, and therefore a lack of falling into mortal sin.
I see the Assumption like this: Mary is our model of humanity. Jesus was, of course, human and divine, having two natures inseparable from each other. Mary was completely human. She wasn’t God or even godlike. But she was as close as any of us can hope to be. Mary was a perpetual virgin, perfectly chaste from her very first days. She was perfectly obedient, always eager to follow God’s will and resistant to disobeying him, so she was without sin. She died, as all humans do, but instead of her body falling into corruption and decay while her soul moved toward the final judgment, she was immediately taken into heaven. Her humanly perfection extended beyond her death. She did not rise into heaven on her own, like Jesus, but she was taken there by Jesus. Glorious in her heavenly body, she reigns over heaven: Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Basically, if any of us have a role model (other than Jesus), it should be Mary. I can only hope and pray to be as obedient and loving as she was.
I’ve been reading a book of excerpts from B16’s writings that Father Bill gave me last semester. Today’s excerpt is from a book B16 wrote while he was still Cardinal Ratzinger about Marian theology, Daughter Zion. In it, he writes that our human mortality, the ability to die, is caused by “the usurped autarchy [self-rule] of a determination to remain within ourselves.” Our self-centeredness led us to sin, which brought death into the world. Mary died, but was whisked away into immortality because in her “the innate propensity to autarchy is totally lacking…there is the pure dispossession of the one who does not rely upon [herself]….Instead, the whole human being enters salvation.” Mary didn’t care about what she wanted, only what God wanted. By denying herself, she gained everything.