Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rosary Meditations: The Fourth Glorious Mystery – The Assumption of Mary

Scripture References

Genesis 3:15; Luke 1:28; Revelation 12:1

The Story in Brief

Mary remained on earth for several years after her Son ascended into Heaven. At the end of her natural life, she was taken, body and soul, into Heaven to live in eternal joy with the Blessed Trinity.

Points to Ponder

1. Although the Assumption of Mary into Heaven is not explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures, the Church's Tradition has held for centuries that Mary was assumed into Heaven body and soul at the end of her natural life. Reflect on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. Think about how Tradition gave rise to Scripture and how the seeds planted in Scripture often bloom in Tradition.

2. Mary's Assumption grows out of her Immaculate Conception. If death and bodily corruption came about because of sin, certainly the sinless one, Mary, would not have been held by such things. Meditate on the wonderful fact that Mary was conceived without sin and remained sinless her entire life.

3. Read Genesis 3, paying special attention to Genesis 3:15. This verse is often called the Protoevangelium or first Gospel, for it promises a Redeemer born of a woman. Ponder how this verse predicts and describes Mary and Jesus. Focus especially on the word “enmity,” which here refers to a complete antagonism between the woman and the serpent and the woman's offspring and the serpent's offspring. How does this enmity illustrate the dogma of Mary's sinlessness?

4. In Luke 1:28 the archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace.” A literal translation from the Greek is“the one having been filled with grace.” Meditate on Mary's fullness of grace.

5. Read Revelation 12:1-6 and reflect on how Mary is depicted in these verses.

6. Even though Mary was sinless, she still relied on Jesus for her salvation. Theologians explain that the merits that Jesus Christ would win on the cross were applied to Mary beforehand in a form of preservative redemption. She was preserved from sin. Meditate on these truths.

7. Why was it so important for Jesus to be born of a sinless mother? What message does this send about Jesus and Mary and about God's salvific plan?

8. Why did Mary remain on earth for many years after Jesus ascended into Heaven? What was her role in the early Church? Ponder the suffering Mary must have experienced through her separation from her son.

9. No one knows for sure whether Mary actually died at the end of her life or whether she was assumed into Heaven without tasting death. The Eastern Church tells of Mary's dormition (i.e., her transition to eternal life through a kind of sleep) while the Western Church leans toward the idea that Mary, in imitation of her Son, did actually die. Contemplate these ideas. Which seems more likely to you?

10. A pious legend that has come down to us from the early years of the Church describes the end of Mary's life. All of the apostles except Thomas gathered around Mary's deathbed to say goodbye. Reflect on the relationship between the apostles and Mary and on the apostles' sadness at losing her.

11. According to the legend, Thomas arrived after Mary had been laid in her tomb. He wanted to see her one last time and went to the tomb to take one last look at the woman who had become his mother. When the tomb was opened, Thomas found a multitude of fragrant flowers, roses and lilies. But Mary's body was gone. Imagine the scene and Thomas' reaction.

12. Imagine Mary's arrival in Heaven and her joyous reunion with her Son.

13. Except for Jesus, Mary is the only being in Heaven who has both a body and a soul. Reflect on the significance of this. How does Mary's Assumption foreshadow the general resurrection at the end of time?

14. Meditate on Mary's great love for God and His people.

15. Spend some time meditating on one or more images of the Assumption. How does each image present the event? How does it depict Mary?

Application Questions

1. How do you view the relationship between Scripture and Tradition? Do you fully understand and appreciate the rich Tradition of the Catholic Church?

2. Do you have a strong relationship with Mary? Is she your mother? Why or why not? How might you strengthen your relationship with Mary?

3. Of which sins do you especially need to repent? Which are most challenging to you? How might you claim Mary's help in overcoming your sins?

4. Have you even been separated from a loved one by death? How does that feel? How do you cope?

5. Are you looking forward to happy reunions with those who have already passed over into eternal life? Can you imagine what those reunions might be like?

6. How do you express your longing for eternal life with God in Heaven?

7. Do you imitate Mary in your love for God and other people? How might you do so more?

Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer

Blessing and Adoration – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we bow down before You in silent adoration as we contemplate the great graces You gave Mary and as we meditate on her Assumption into Heaven. We bless You for the wonders of Mary, for she magnifies You, dear Lord.

Praise – Jesus, we praise You for Your saving power. We praise You for applying that power to Your mother at the moment of her conception that she might be a sinless vessel fit to bear You, her God and her Son. We praise You for assuming Your mother body and soul into Heaven that she may stand as a sign of hope for all of us who await the fullness of eternal life.

Thanksgiving – Jesus, thank You for Mary, Your mother and our mother. Thank You for her sinlessness that shows us how to love and her assumption that gives us reason to hope that we, too, will one day be with You in Heaven body and soul.

Intercession – Jesus, we lift up to You all Christians who do not have a relationship with Mary. We lift up those who do not understand or believe that she is their mother who loves them and prays for them. Introduce them to Mary, Lord, that they may know her and love her.

Petition – Holy Trinity, we pray that we might follow Mary more closely. We pray that we may love as she did, open our hearts to You as she did, and surrender ourselves to You as she did. We pray that someday we may with You and with Mary forever in Heaven.

Quotes from the Saints and Popes

“The Apostles took up [Mary's] body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, she rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones.” - St. Gregory of Tours

“Today, in union with the whole Church, we celebrate the triumph of the Mother, Daughter and Spouse of God. ...We are now happy that Mary, after accompanying Jesus from Bethlehem to the cross, is next to her Son in body and soul, glorious forever. … But don’t forget: if God exalted his Mother, it is equally true that he did not spare her pain, exhaustion in her work or trials of her faith. A village woman one day broke into praise for Jesus exclaiming: 'Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nourished you.' Jesus said in reply: 'Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.' It was a compliment to his Mother on her fiat, her 'be it done.' She lived it sincerely, unstintingly, fulfilling its every consequence, but never amid fanfare, rather in the hidden and silent sacrifice of each day. … To become Godlike, to be divinized, we must begin by being very human, accepting from God our condition as ordinary men and sanctifying its apparent worthlessness. Thus did Mary live. She who is full of grace, the object of God’s pleasure, exalted above all the angels and the saints, lived an ordinary life. Mary is as much a creature as we are, with a heart like ours, made for joy and mirth as well as suffering and tears. Before Gabriel communicates to her God’s plan, our Lady does not know she has been chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Messiah. She sees herself a humble creature. That is why she can acknowledge, with full humility, that 'he who is mighty has done great things' in her.” - St. Josemaria Escriva

“The Assumption is the culmination of the struggle which involved Mary's generous love in the redemption of humanity and is the fruit of her unique sharing in the victory of the Cross.” - Pope John Paul II

“It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.” - St. John Damascene

“You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.” - St. Germanus of Constantinople

“As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.” - St. Modestus of Jerusalem

“For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” - Pope Pius XII

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