As we approach the end of the summer, we start the month of August, a month in which we traditionally think of heaven. In the middle of the month we celebrate the Feast of Mary's Assumption into Heaven. Mary gave her life completely to God. By becoming the mother of Jesus she also became the channel through which God’s love would enter the world. When we contemplate Mary's being assumed—body and soul— into heaven, we can learn more deeply four key elements of faith as elaborated in The Light of Faith.
1) "Christian faith...proclaims the truth of God's total love and opens us to the power of that love, [which] penetrates to the core of our human experience" (The Light of Faith, no. 32). Mary didn't read a book and decide she would believe in God. We see in her, instead, the way God acts with us his creatures: God reveals himself; God enters into the life of a person, taking hold of it, transforming it, molding it for others, and taking it to himself with such love. He made Mary beautiful, and he makes all who believe beautiful. It is not we who do things; it is God who takes us up so that our response, which is itself his gift, flows from his love. Our life, as was Mary's, is always an echo—an obedient and loving response to an unbelievable love.
2) The God of the Bible is a "personal God who is able to speak to us, to come down to dwell in our midst and to accompany our journey through history" (no. 33). Mary certainly stands out as having a noble mission in life, but really what is important is what God did in and through her for the world. She knew that God took the first step in the dance that would be her life and that was what she focused on. In tears and laughter she knew he was with her, and she clung to him with the obedience of her faith. Our God is a personal God. He is not an impersonal force, a feeling, a power, a vague sense that there is something more. God is able to speak, to walk at our side, to love, to hold us, and to provide for us. And he can hear us. He longs to be invited into our hearts and waits impatiently to be a part of our lives for the love in his heart for us is so great.
3) Mary, when she was assumed into heaven, was not alone. She was a member of Jesus’s body in a network of relationship with all the other disciples of Jesus in the Church. Pope Francis is emphasizing this again and again in his homilies: "Christ's followers are not individuals caught up in a privatized spirituality, but persons in community, devoting themselves to others" (Pope Francis to the Bishops in Rio de Janeiro, July 28th, 2013). In The Light of Faith he states: Faith ". . . is a light reflected from one face to another." We can reflect that light to others when we are filled with it ourselves. Like Pope Francis, who immediately went to honor Mary at St. Mary Major on his return from Brazil to the Vatican, we put ourselves before Mary's gaze as often as we can so that our faces can reflect the light of faith that radiates on her face. The rosary, a Hail Mary, consecration to Mary, wearing the scapular, or an image of Mary in our home are all ways to draw near to the woman whom the apostles loved so dearly.
4. We can feel ourselves so weak and inconstant before a privilege as great as our faith. God, who is Mercy, has shown himself always attracted to weakness, to littleness, to the poor ones. In our poverty we have a special claim to his love. Thus he has provided us with a way to this faith which is more than knowledge, this faith which is life, which is engagement with a God who walks with us and transforms us, this faith which radiates from us to the world. "Faith...needs a setting in which it can be witnessed to and communicated. ...For transmitting a purely doctrinal content, an idea might suffice, or perhaps a book, or the repetition of a spoken message. But what is communicated in the Church, what is handed down in her living Tradition, is the new light born of an encounter with the true God, a light which touches us at the core of our being and engages our minds, wills and emotions, opening us to relationships lived in communion. There is a special means for passing down this fullness, a means capable of engaging the entire person, body and spirit, interior life and relationships with others. It is the sacraments, celebrated in the Church's liturgy" (no. 40). That hour on Sunday (or each morning).... What a privilege it is to be able to worship, to honor God's approach and his invitation to enter into the fullness of the light of faith that is our birthright as baptized followers of Jesus....
In the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, as found in the book, He and I: "Concentrate on going higher, always higher in the Holy Trinity. This is your family, your end, and your center. Your home, too, so you must take up your residence there.... Be grateful to be invited to it. What a blessed home—the heart of the Trinity opening up all its unutterable delights for you in the love untold of the Father and the Son! How can you refrain from thinking of it every day with impetuous longing?" (page 284)
by Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP