The Virgin Mary was taken up to the heavenly bridal chamber where the King of kings is seated on a starry throne. (Antiphon 2, Evening prayer for the Solemnity of the Assumption)
Today at Mass, on the Feast of Our Lady’s Glorious Assumption, one of the topics Father spoke about was the value God places on our bodies.
God loves our bodies. In fact, He esteems them so much that He did not hesitate to take upon Himself human flesh, in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I recently heard a mystic describe an experience of God’s Love overwhelming him. He said that it was as though every cell in his body knew and responded to its Creator, and that although the experience lasted but a few moments, he cried out, “Jesus, stop, or I will die for I cannot contain anymore of Your Love for me.”
This is almost exactly the description St. Therese gave of her mystical encounter where she was “burning up” with love. One moment more and I would have died. St. Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross and many other mystics relate similar experiences of God invading their entire being with His Love.
Most of us don’t often think about God’s love for our physical being. We tend to focus mostly on our souls, which of course are made in the image and likeness of God. But our souls and bodies dwell in a mysterious union. What we think about is simultaneously transmitted to our bodies, which react with fear, joy, peace, tears, laughter and many other emotions and sensations.
Perhaps the most frightening thing about death is the awareness that our being will be rent in two… our soul and our body separated for the first time in our existence. We cannot imagine what that will be like.
Nor do we know how long this separation will endure.
But in the gospels, Our Lord assures us that our bodies will live again. We know that for those who die in God’s Grace, they will be glorious, resplendent bodies, free of pain and suffering, and in complete accord with our will, which will then be perfectly united to God’s Will.
Our bodies then should be holy, as Father said this morning, since they are tabernacles of the Most Holy Trinity. We should keep them clean, modestly dressed, and borne with the dignity of a child of God. Moreover, we should treat the bodies of others with respect at every stage of life.
Our Lady, in her Church approved apparitions is always described as “beautiful,” a word usually stammered out in desperation, in a feeble attempt to capture what is beyond human comprehension…..the glorified appearance of our Heavenly Mother. What is seen by these chosen visionaries is no doubt vastly inferior to the true, radiant beauty and glory which the Mother of God possesses in Heaven.
How different that heavenly beauty is from what we admire on earth, where outward appearance attracts so much attention. In heaven, it is the holiness of the soul which will communicate its splendor to our glorified body. Earthly beauty will have passed away.
Today we celebrate with joy, Our Lady’s bodily assumption into Heaven. It is a day to rejoice that Our Lord and Savior has promised to all of us that if we have died in Christ, we shall also rise with Him.
At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. This is the way we shall be with the Lord for ever I Thessalonians 4: 16-17 (NJB)