The Mother of Jesus, after assisting the Apostles at the birth of the Church, was released from her mortal life at the Assumption and given a greater ability to help her children from Heaven. Mary’s Assumption provides the spiritual force to undo the many degrading knots of worldliness and helps us become more spiritual people in our daily pilgrimage through life.
The Apotheosis of Mary
The church’s name escapes me, but the image of it remains a vivid memory. I recall walking into a gorgeous Renaissance church on a visit to Italy many years ago, whose dome featured a painting called the Apotheosis of the Virgin Mary. I humbly admit that I needed to consult a dictionary to learn the meaning of “apotheosis”! But the rich Greek word turned out to be more familiar than I realized. It simply means “Mary returning to God,” or, as we commonly know it, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven.
In ancient Rome, apotheosis meant something different – the “deification” of an emperor – but of course Catholics never deify Our Lady or put her on a par with God. But apotheosis can also mean “divinization”, a fully Catholic doctrine taught by the Fathers of the Church. It signifies the complete transformation of a person’s body and soul after death to participate in the divine life in all its fullness. This is the fullness of life that Mary now shares with the Trinity, and the Assumption is a celebration of the most blessed human life ever lived, a life that is now given to us to help us also “return to God” as our rightful heritage.
The Grace of the Assumption
Our Lady’s Assumption is a glorious expression of her ministry as the Undoer of Knots. In English, we have the expression that death “undoes the bonds of this mortal life,” but sometimes we forget that, at least concerning the bonds of sin, worldliness, attachments, etc., they can also be undone before death. This is not an absolute. The bonds of the flesh are powerful and debilitating. Fleshly desires and worldly attachments are difficult to overcome in this life, even by strong-willed people. But many of them can be undone through grace prior to death.
The grace of Mary’s Assumption helps to free us of our worldly bonds. Our Lady meets us in the areas of our personal struggles and gives us the inspiration to become less sinful, less worldly, more spiritual people. Mary knows our struggles in the flesh because she experienced them all herself. She was exempt from sin but not from the sufferings of the flesh. She gives us hope that God’s grace will ultimately raise us up over the power of the material world that constantly drags us down.
The Solemnity of the Assumption rises like the summit of a mountain in the middle of a long summer season, and, like looking up toward a mountain peak, we turn our eyes to the light of Christ shining through Our Lady. She is standing on the summit waiting for us. She has already gone before us. That very act of consciously lifting up our souls to her mirrors the action of the Assumption and fills us with hope to overcome the discouragements of this world. We bring her our special intentions as if we were pilgrims making our way to that glorious summit.
On the feast of Mary’s apotheosis, I encourage you to take special care to present your needs to her with fervor. If they are the knots of sin and addiction – involving ourselves or our loved ones – she will undo them by the grace of her Assumption. If they are relational problems, she will smooth them out. If financial and material problems, she will supply our needs and keep us going for another day.
Above all, do not forget to ask for the most important grace of all. Ask Our Lady’s assistance to become a more spiritual person day by day: more faithful, more obedient to grace, more virtuous. The Blessed Virgin lives in the perfect bliss of God’s life, and she will not deny us any prayer that brings us closer to the life of Heaven.
By Peter Darcy
Iconographic source: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Albert_Cornelis_-_Assumption_of_the_Virgin_-_ES_BRHM_BPV_009_12.jpg