The Fourth Glorious Mystery: Mary's Assumption

Anthony Zimmerman
June 14, 2003
Reproduced with Permission

The fourth glorious mystery puts us into direct communication with our own most blessed Mother to whom Christ entrusted us from the cross. A mother is one with whom we can share all secrets, one who listens to whatever we say, one who never lets us wander far from her sight.

At the home parish of my childhood in Westphalia, Iowa, our pastor Father Duren made a great fuss about outside May devotions to Mary, with rosary processions around the cemetery, followed by devotions and song before the outside shrine. The pastor often spoke to us warmly about Mary as the devotions wound up while the evening gathered, but sometimes he invited another priest for the occasion. The message that Monsignor Schiltz from the neighboring town of Panama gave us on one of those nostalgic evenings was simple, but I remember it as of yesterday.

We are sometimes afraid of God, he said, or we feel distant from Him, or find it hard to speak to Him. And that is why Christ gave us a mother to speak to, one who is close to us and also close to the Lord. Our Mother Mary is easy to approach and to speak with, and she in turn then speaks for us to the Lord. So beautiful! So true. No one ever fears to speak with Our Mother Mary.

How did Mary feel when she had finished her course on earth and was about to be taken up into heaven? In Japan it is a custom to ask how we feel about this or that, how we feel after traveling and then coming home, how we feel when honored for this or that. And so we dare to ask our lovely Mother Mary, "How did you feel when closing your eyes to life here on earth and then being lifted up and up beyond this world into the new life in heaven? How was your body, how was your spirit? Were you glad to see your Son Jesus again? Did He say 'Welcome' and take you by the hand and give you a kiss? Did He call Joseph over to assure you again with his steady hand, to make you feel more at home in your new surroundings?"

Joseph did not yet have a body, but in heaven spirit speaks directly with spirit; one just communicates one's thoughts and love and admiration by willing to do so, without having to articulate them in fractured words like on earth. So Joseph and Mary met happily again after so many years!

Did Jesus then march you up the steps to have Mary meet the Father and the Holy Spirit face to face? And did the Father say: "Well done, my daughter. I welcome you as the Mother of my Son. This place is yours." And did the Holy Spirit say: "Tota pulchra es, Maria. Et macula originalis non est in te!" Did Jesus then turn to the angels and saints and introduce you proudly: "My Mother!"? And did cymbals clash, and trumpets blare, and fireworks light the heavenly skies? Were you happy then? Did you say again: "My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior?' And did all heaven respond with: "O Sanctissima, O piissima, Dulcis Virgo Maria"?

We come back now to earth. Mary adds warmth, adds wisdom, adds elegance to our Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. We have child-like trust in her, and the older we grow, the more we feel that trust and warmth. We confide to her our needs, we regret our sins, we turn to her to help our loved ones. And she is always there to listen. Unfailingly. We pray as she listens and waits: "Holy Mary, holy Mother of God, holy virgin of virgins, Mother of Christ, Mother of divine grace, Mother most pure, Mother most chaste, Mother most amiable, Mother most admirable, Mother of good counsel, Mother of our Creator, Mother of our Savior." She beams and blesses us again.

Cardinal Ratzinger writes that Protestants are now making timid efforts to recapture the figure of Mary.

It is true that a puritan tendency took the upper hand. People were afraid in the first place that Mary would to some extent take Christ's place. In due course, such a radical sense of solus Christus (only Christ) developed that people thought the two were in competition, instead of being able to recognize ... that the face of Christ himself appears in the face of his Mother, and its true message becomes clear in this way.

Cardinal Ratzinger then continues:

People (Protestants) realized that the complete removal of the feminine element from the Christian message is a shortcoming ... Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion. And this is not in competition with Christ. To think of Christ and Mary in competition means ignoring the essential distinction between these two figures. Christ gives John, and through John all of us, the Mother. That is not competition, ut a most profound kind of intimacy. The Mother and Virgin forms an essential part of the Christian picture of man (God and the World, pp. 301-302).

Mothers bring out the best in their children by being motherly. Mary inspired Michelangelo to sculpture the Pieta, Murillio to illuminate her Assumption, Gounod to compose the Ave Maria, Bernard to sing the Salve Regina, Catholics in America to build the majestic National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Song, painting, sculpture, architecture, tapestry, liturgy, vestments, dress and the nobility of our lives are beautiful in the Catholic Church because a Mother keeps her house sparkling, as does every proper queen and every industrious house mother.

Where ever Mary appears, she is always beautiful. In Mexico City she imprinted herself as the Woman clothed with the sun in an apparel so attractive that people drop to their knees in awe when they see her; all of Mexico's Indian people paraded into the Church in a few short years, so powerfully did the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe attract them.

At Lourdes she appeared not only adorned in tasteful dress and graceful posture, she also spoke with a voice that made St. Bernadette feel strongly drawn to her. And at one apparition she demonstrated that she packs great power. While appearing to Bernadette, there was a terrible noise and disorderly shrieking somewhat off to the side. Mary then turned her head slightly in the direction of the nuisance - ever so slightly - and at once the noise stopped. The devil was gone. He was uncomfortable when too near to her. She didn't menace, that was not necessary. She merely took note of his presence, and that was entirely too much for him. Yes, she protects her children from evil and the devil flees when she makes her presence felt.

She is for us the gate of heaven, the morning star, the health of the sick, the refuge of sinners, the comforter of the afflicted, the help of Christians. We all know where to go when we need help.

Our great Pope, John Paul II, has put himself totally into the hands of Mary. "Totus tuus" he pledges to her. He believes that her hand guided the bullet away from vital organs of his body, that she assists him constantly to shepherd the Church.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.