Friday, August 13, 2010

The Sunday Word

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
1 Cor 15:20-27
Lk 1:39-56

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.

The Church, sings forth these words of praise of the Mother of God every evening of every day during Evening Prayer - the Magnificat, Our Lady’s canticle of praise to God, which we hear proclaimed in our Gospel this Sunday, when she gave all the praise and glory to God for the marvels He had done for her in calling her to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, on an occasion such as this, we must reflect for a few moments on the events of last week. We saw one of our Marianist Brothers profess his perpetual vows. I suspect that some might be a bit overwhelmed at the enormity of what we witnessed in that Mass of Religious Profession. For the parents and family and friends of our Brother Daniel, perhaps that was the first time that anyone whom you know and love personally has ever done such a thing; and in this day and age, such an act of radical abandonment might even appear incomprehensible. Why would any young man, as gifted and blessed, voluntarily choose to live in chastity, in poverty, and under obedience in this world of ours?

So how can we begin to comprehend, begin to understand what all the Brothers of Mary have done, through their profession of the evangelical counsels, as they are called, the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience?

We have to begin with gratitude, with thanksgiving. Gratitude and thanksgiving for what? For the love we have come to know in Christ Jesus our Lord. The sum of our lives as Christians, as followers of Christ, is a response of gratitude for what God has done for us in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you want to begin to understand why men would dedicate their entire lives, and why they do what they do, then know this: they are men who have been grasped by Christ, by the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So what do we celebrate in the Mystery of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother into Heaven? For some insight, let us look at the words of our Holy Father, in speaking about the obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Holy Father spoke of the obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the will of God, and he used an interesting expression to describe the relation of her will to God’s will. He said: “At Nazareth (from the moment of the Annunciation, Mary) gave over her will, immersing it in the will of God: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to Your Word’ And this continues to be her fundamental attitude. This is how she teaches us to pray: not by seeking to assert before God our own will and our own desires, however important they may be, however reasonable they might appear to us, but rather to bring them before Him and to let Him decide what He intends to do. From Mary we learn graciousness and readiness to help, but we also learn humility and generosity in accepting God’s will, in the confident conviction that, whatever it may be, it will be our, and my own, true good.”

And this act of immersing our own human will in the will of God is at the heart of the act of religious profession. We all remember: Grace perfects nature; it does not destroy it. The action of God’s grace in our lives does not make us into some thing, someone we were not; no, the action of God’s grace in our lives elevates and purifies and sanctifies all that we are as human beings made in the image and likeness of God. The mystery we celebrate, the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven, is, in a certain sense, the goal, the end for which we are striving.

Listen to the words of our Holy Father again: “Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us. We have a mother in Heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: ‘Behold, your Mother!’ We have a Mother in Heaven. Heaven is open, Heaven has a heart.” 

And so, on this summer Feast of the Assumption, everyone devoted to Mary holds fast to the promise that we will one day be gathered and say, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant."

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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
"The imitation of Jesus Christ consists in forming Jesus Christ within us . . . Blessed is he who bears the character and livery of Jesus Christ!"
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade