The Feast of Mary’s Assumption into Heaven ~ The Exaltation of Womanhood

THE FEAST OF ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

AUGUST 15th, 2019

I rejoice heartily in the Lord,

In my God is the joy of my soul;

for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation,

like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,

  like a bride bedecked with her jewels. (Canticle of Isaiah) 

Through the power of his Resurrection,

Christ has adorned Mary with the robe of his own glory and majesty.

In years past, the image I’ve chosen for Mary on this post was a strong one following her title from Revelations, ” A Woman Clothed with the Sun”, but this year, I’ve selected a softer one that connotes the Eastern Rites’ emphasis on the “Dormition” of our Lady or her “falling asleep”, and then being taken up into heaven.

Here’s a bit about this Feast (or Solemnity, as we call it in the liturgy.)

First of all, it’s a celebration of the body and an exaltation of womanhood.

In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared as a dogma of the church something that we Catholics have believed throughout the church’s history ~ that Mary was taken up into heaven, body and soul,  to sit at her Son’s side for all eternity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven makes clear to us that there is room for our humanity in heaven. Mary’s Assumption assures us that what Jesus accomplished in rising from the dead was not limited to his own Person—even though we are not divine, we too are meant to be in heaven with the Incarnate Son, in his home with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Blessed Mother’s birth into heaven generates in us “ an ever new capacity to await God’s future.” (Saint John Paul II). Just as grace does not destroy but perfects our nature, so the glory of heaven will include our whole humanity, body and soul! “That transformation of our mortal bodies to which we look forward one day has been accomplished—we know it for certain—in her” (Msgr. Ronald Knox). (~ From the Magnificat liturgical magazine / August 2019 – p. 202.

Everyone was quite startled when the distinguished psychiatrist Carl Jung, who was not a Catholic,  said that this declaration about Mary was “the greatest religious event since the reformation.”  And by the way, Martin Luther believed in the Assumption of the Virgin.

Here’s the entire text of what he had to say.  You ought to read this; what he says is truly amazing coming from a psychiatrist and a non-Catholic!

The promulgation of the new dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary could, in itself, have been sufficient reason for examining the psychological background. It is interesting to note that, among the many articles published in the Catholic and Protestant press on the declaration of the dogma, there was not one, so far as I could see, which laid anything like proper emphasis on what was undoubtedly the most powerful motive: namely the popular movement and  the psychological need behind it. Essentially, the writers of the articles were satisfied with learned considerations, dogmatic and historical, which have no bearing on the living religious process. But anyone who has followed with attention the visions of Mary which have been increasing in number over the last few decades, and has taken their psychological significance into account, might have known what was brewing. The fact, especially, that it was largely children who had the visions might have given pause for thought, for in such cases, the collective unconscious is always at work …One could have known for a long time that there was a deep longing in the masses for an intercessor and mediatrix who would at last take her place alongside the Holy Trinity and be received as the ‘Queen of heaven and Bride at the heavenly court.’ For more than a thousand years it has been taken for granted that the Mother of God dwelt there.

I consider it to be the most important religious event since the Reformation. It is a petra scandali for the unpsycholgical mind: how can such an unfounded assertion as the bodily reception of the Virgin into heaven be put forward as worthy of belief? But the method which the Pope uses in order to demonstrate the truth of the dogma makes sense to the psychological mind, because it bases itself firstly on the necessary prefigurations, and secondly on a tradition of religious assertions reaching back for more than a thousand years. What outrages the Protestant standpoint in particular is the boundless approximation of the Deipara to the Godhead and, in consequence, the endangered supremacy of Christ, from which Protestantism will not budge. In sticking to this point it has obviously failed to consider that its hymnology is full of references to the ‘heavenly bridegroom,’ who is now suddenly supposed not to have a bride with equal rights. Or has, perchance, the ‘bridegroom,’ in true psychologistic manner, been understood as a mere metaphor?

The dogmatizing of the Assumption does not, however, according to the dogmatic view, mean that Mary has attained the status of goddess, although, as mistress of heaven and mediatrix, she is functionally on a par with Christ, the king and mediator. At any rate her position satisfies a renewed hope for the fulfillment of that yearning for peace which stirs deep down in the soul, and for a resolution of the threatening tension between opposites. Everyone shares this tension and everyone experiences it in his individual form of unrest, the more so the less he sees any possibility of getting rid of it by rational means. It is no wonder, therefore, that the hope, indeed the expectation of divine intervention arises in the collective unconscious and at the same time in the masses. The papal declaration has given comforting expression to that yearning. How could Protestantism so completely miss the point?

I was amazed and thrilled when I discovered this text and again when I’ve just now re-read it.

And I’ve always loved to pray and sing these words from the preface of the Mass of the day:

Today the virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven

as the beginning  and the image

of your Church’s coming to perfection

and a sign of sure of hope and comfort for your people

on their pilgrim way.

Mary is the first disciple of her Son.

She is the one who said Yes!  “Be it done unto me according to Your word.”

Each of us who bear witness to Christ give birth to him in our own way.

May we honor Mary on this wonderful feast day and enjoy this late summer day and exalt the women in our life as well!

On August 22nd, the octave of the Assumption we celebrate a minor feast ~ the Queenship of Mary.  I honor her as my queen.  Now this may sound a bit odd, my friends, but I take her shopping with me.  I thanked her for finding my lovely condo.  I signed the documents for the condo on August 15th, 2008 ~ my home for eleven years as of today.

Now, from ~ and in honor of ~Notre Dame de Paris ~ (may she rise again from her ashes,) here is a the Magnificat sung led by a choir boy with congregation responding.  Click here. And be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative writer

The Legacy of a martyr

National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On this coming, Monday, January, 16, 2017, we will honor a great American ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968.

On that fateful day, Dr. King was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers.  He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that achieved great change in our land.  This man is one of my mentors.  I was in his presence in 1963 when I was in the seminary in Baltimore.  Our Rector bussed a lot of us to hear him speak somewhere in the city. Today, I have an image of him near my desk.

He was a man who committed himself to nonviolence like Mohandas Gandhi and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for us, as the only way that justice and peace can be achieved.  Dr. King inspired ordinary folks, black and white, to stand up for their rights and to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and others, and to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed.

On, April 5, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon.  I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody of the Litany of the Saints as I lay prostrate on the floor with my brothers to be ordained. As I sucked in a deep breath  in the shadow of this man in whose ideal of justice and peace and freedom I also wanted to absorb into my soul and body, I pledged my life to Christ.

Today,  in this land of America, we have lost many of the freedoms and ideals of that other great man Thomas Jefferson that all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Today, not only young black men are listless and have no hope.  This is true of so many others as well.

Inauguration day is upon us; some welcome our President-elect; some are fearful of what is to come.   But the questions Dr. King ask of us are . . . .

Where are those today who will inspire us and lead us out of our complacency?
Who will inspire us to stand up and put our lives on the line for what we believe in?
Who still dreams the dream of Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson?
Who is willing to sacrifice to restore those ideals to our beloved country?

O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us                                                                                    
and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, and safeguard our freedoms.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution of justice, peace and love that now lies before us in 2o17.
We pray to you, God,  for You are the God who cries for justice for your children
and who still hears the cries of those who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray ~ for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL.                   T
o You Glory and Honor and Power, now and forever, Amen!

St. Luke attributes has Mary sing these words in her Magnificat sung or recited every evening in the church everywhere in the world. Would  that we would believe it and commit ourselves to it!

“[God} has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servants
for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers]                                                                                             
to Abraham [and Sarah and Haggar]
and [their] children for ever.

But I call us more than a generation later to the principles of Nonviolence Dr. King instilled in his followers.

They were trained to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Nonviolence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.

Dr. King held no public office.  He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.

And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in ~ no matter what.

Is there anything you  are willing to give your  life for?

I continually ask myself the same question and pray the answer is Yes!  (Or at least I hope so.)

Now, since it’s been a generation since Dr. King delivered his most powerful and eloquent speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.that led subsequently to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act into law on June 2, 1964.

For a brief excerpt of “the I Have a Dream” speech,    Click here.  It’s the original.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 12 ~ Mary’s Song of Justice

an image of Vladimir’s famous icon “Our Lady of Tenderness” in my home

This is a feast of Mary for us Catholic’s. In today’s gospel, we read the story of Mary’s Yes to God, her consent to bring Jesus into our  world.

I offer for your reflection the Song of Mary that Luke places upon her lips ~ the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) , sung or recited everywhere in the church throughout the world each evening of the year.

And as you’ll see, it has a pretty radical message ~ if you allow yourself to think about it.

And Mary said: 

“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;                                                                        

from this day all ages call me blessed.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast  down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers]

Abraham [and Sarah and Hagar] and [their] children for ever.

+ + + +

The song speaks of lowliness ~ humility. Yet it recognizes what God does in our lives.

Look with favor on ME too, Lord.

Please ~ I need Your favor, Your grace.

Let my soul proclaim Your greatness.

Let me see (and accept) that you do good things for me, too.

Let me cry out every day:  Holy is Your name, my God!

Let your mercy be on us and our world.

Show your strength, Lord, the strength of Your justice.

Scatter the proud, the arrogant ones who control so much of our world, our country, our congress.

Cast down the mighty.

Lift up the lowly.

Fill the hungry.

Send the rich empty away like the poor, Lord.

Come to the help of Your people in our time.

We, too, are descendants of Abraham ~ Jew / Muslim / Christian.

We are all Your children, Father.

To You be glory and honor and praise for ever.  Amen!

Dear Reader,

Luke places these words in the mouth of Mary at the very beginning of the story of Jesus.  It is the “Magnificat,” the Canticle of Mary, sung or recited by priests and nuns and monks all over the world every single day of the year at Evensong.  So, it’s a pretty important text to reflect upon.

I would like you to notice how radical this message is: “Cast down the mighty.” “Raise up the lowly.”  “Send the rich away empty.”

Sounds like a pretty political message, don’t ya think?

People have been thrown into prison for saying things like that.

But these words are two thousand years old!

An essential and enduring part of the Christmas story as told in the first chapter of  Luke.

It’s a Song about Justice from the lips of Mary, the Mother of God.  About Justice entering our world.

I have sung Mary’s Song every evening for 30 years with spontaneous melodies arising from the mood of my soul of the moment.

And in that, I try to live the song!

How do you respond, dear friend?

How do you respond?

P. S.  I wonder what is implied here about universal health care and so much more. . .

Now to thrill you and inspire you, here’s introduction to Bach’s Magnificat on You Tube.  If you scroll down the right side of the page, you will find other segments of the concert as well.  Or you can Google “Magnificat videos” and have an amazing choice, including Shubert and Mozart and Michael Talbot. Be sure to enter FULL SCREEN.  ENJOY!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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