Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lent: Glorious Wednesdays

The fourth Glorious mystery is the Assumption of Mary. From this mystery we are to gain the fruit of the grace of a happy death. Here's my take.

Most non-Catholics think we give Mary too much devotion. We've been term Mary worshippers. This mystery and the next are definitely centered on Mary. However, instead of us glorifying Mary for her sake, we glorify God through Mary with these mysteries.

Briefly, as Catholics we believe that Mary was not just another Jewish girl of her time. She was set aside by God even in the womb for this great task. She is the revocation of Eve's "No" by her beautiful "Yes".

There has been much study in the effects of nature verses nature. There are some things that are dictated purely by nature, while other things are learned through nurture. However, even nurturing cannot change the fundamental nature of a person. Since Jesus was truly God, His nature was divine. As God sin is abhorrent to him. That is the basis for the Catholic belief of Mary's sinlessness. Although Jesus was humbled by His incarnation, He would not have desired to be housed in a sinful body.

That is a reason for another of the Catholic beliefs -- Mary's perpetual virginity. Just as a Tabernacle holds nothing but the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ, Mary was a living Tabernacle. To place anything else in her womb would defile it. Not because children are bad, just because other children would have original sin within them.

The prophets spoke of a person who's body would not meet corruption even in death. That is the basis of this mystery. Since Mary did not have sin within her, sin could not reign over her in death. She survived Jesus so He could open the doors of Heaven and prepare a place for Her and His other faithful. The corruption of the dead body is a visible reminder of our sinfulness. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, none of us would have to die. However, since Mary revoked Eve's sin, she was not party to the punishment for that sin. Therefore, when her time on earth was through, God assumed her into Heaven, body and soul intact.

People often speculate about how they'd like to die. Most people envision for themselves a peaceful death in their sleep because they are afraid of the alternatives. Since Mary's death was the easiest of any recorded, she is truly an inspiration for us about death. She experienced no pain, unlike Jesus, and went straight into Heaven, unlike Jesus who descended into hell prior to rising back to life. Since she is the only person recorded to experience this phenomenon, we pray for that our grace is sufficient to give us even a portion of her peaceful end. "...Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

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