In 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, body and soul, he was basing this on a long held belief in the Church. Recently I was able to go to an art museum that had a depiction by Fra Angelico of the dormitory or the Assumption of Mary. He painted this painting in 1432. Clearly this was already a widely held belief in the Church.
We must believe this joyful and glorious truth that Mary is body and soul in heaven if we wish to be part of the Church. Mary points the way to us. In her is the ultimate goal: being in heaven with God forever. She reminds us that we are not to abandon ourselves to the world, but we are to abandon and consecrate our lives to God. Truly as the prayer “Hail Holy Queen” says, “to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this vale of tears”. Perhaps we do in fact feel very much in exile as the prayer says. Mary is the fulfillment of our hope that heaven is real, and that Jesus wanted to share the glory of Heaven with His mother.
Mary is often pictured crushing a serpent, which we hear about in the Book of Revelation. She is also often depicted with a club, attacking the devil. There are even some images of her punching the devil in the face. She is perfectly calm and graceful while the devil appears to be terrified. Pope Saint John Paul II points out “Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother. Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood.” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 45). The Blessed Mother loves each of her children with her whole heart, and she wants to lead us to heaven as well. We should go to her and ask her to defeat the devil in our lives. To defeat and crush sin and vice that turn us away from God. Whatever it is: selfishness, laziness, sloth, lust, refusing to pray, pride, losing hope… we must pick up again the weapon of the rosary every day, frequent confession, and Eucharistic adoration. We must pray everyday, and we must struggle to become saints. We need more prayer.
Mary will help us to have our eyes and hearts in heaven while our feet are on the ground. She will help us to make choices that say “yes” to God and “no” to sin and the devil. It may seem that the world is falling apart, and we are in fact in a battle. St Maximilian Kolbe, a martyr at Auschwitz who promoted devotion to the Blessed Mother said that
“Modern times are dominated by Satan and will be more so in the future. The conflict with hell cannot be engaged by men, even the most clever. The Immaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan.”
We need this courageous mother more than ever to hold our hand as she beats back the devil, who is terrified because of her humility, her purity of heart, and her total “yes” to God’s will in her life. Her very generous motherly heart stands in stark contrast to the cries of “me, me, me!” That are the anthem of the spirit of the world. I know in my own life if I have trouble sleeping, if I feel anxious or unsure about something, or if I simply cannot settle down to pray, whenever I turn to the Blessed Mother things improve. Try it in your life.
“We are passing through disastrous times, yet in the midst of this deluge of evil, the Most Clement rises like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man. Recognize in her, that Virgin most powerful, did crush the head of the serpent”
— Pope St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum
Let us simply turn to the Blessed Mother in prayer today:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known
That anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
But in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.