Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
Scripture Readings: Rev 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56
The Assumption is the patronal feast of our Order, and of our community. Why is that?
A key principle enunciated by Pope Pius XII when he defined this doctrine was the principle of consortium: the principle that Mary was always sharing in the lot of Christ. As a principle it is a starting point for determining how an experience will affect us. It will affect us as sharing in the lot of Christ.
Mary shared in His sinless conception, His life of ministry, His passion, and now in His resurrection and ascension. We celebrate her sharing in His entire salvific life. As contemplatives we focus in today’s solemnity of the Assumption on her sharing in these things bodily and interiorly.
It is a feast of our Order and community because bodily and interiorly, we want to share the lot of Christ. We do this through a life of prayer and manual labor.
Christ brings poverty and insults. Thomas Merton tells us the monastic “seeks God not by speculation, but by a way more likely to find Him- the obscure and secret path of theological faith…It demands a renunciation of our own lights, and our own prudence, and our whole wisdom, and our whole self.” [i]
With Mary we share the lot of Christ: the injustices, the misunderstandings, and the mockery that no one in his right mind would share or should share…UNLESS… he has a really good reason …and the reason becomes an intention.
And with Mary we find that reason to be love and thanksgiving. The intention is to respond to the saving by Christ. In short, we join with Mary’s share in the lot when we respond with CHARITY.
As an Israelite, Mary was part of a people who were slaves…and they were saved. Such a role in salvation history inspired our Cistercian forefathers to make her our patroness. To appreciate this, we must be able to acknowledge our status as slaves; slaves to our passions, our anxieties, our sensitivities, our avarice. We go where these masters tell us and do what they command… UNLESS… we know we are saved and live our lives in thanksgiving. Then we are given the power to be free.
We are given the power to be free because we are saved for something. We are saved for sharing in the lot of Christ whose lot was to do the will of the One who sent Him. And the will was that of charity, of love of God & neighbor. That is our mission.
Of the effects of charity, the most important are mercy, kindness, and almsgiving because they best show how we bodily enact friendship with God through care for others.
In mercy we use our own experience of misfortune to empathize and to help another. It is a most solid form of bonding.
Through kindness we show good will to all by our acts of helping. Mary’s intercessory intervention at Cana is an example.
In almsgiving we tend to the bodily needs of others through the corporal works of mercy.
God gives us grace in proportion to our mission in life. This grace both makes possible and sets in motion the journey to which we are called. It enables us to meet the demands of love. This unfolds in service to others. This service frees us from the bondage of self through acts of mercy, kindness, and almsgiving. With Mary we know to Whom we owe everything and so we strive to pay everything.
[i] Merton, The Silent Life, 2-3.