August 15, 2016

The Assumption of our Lady and Elisabeth of the Trinity

Soon to be canonized Elisabeth believed that with the help of Mary, our lives can become a great hymn of praise. She held this as true for her married sister, a young mother, as she did for her fellow Carmelite nuns.  In fact, on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, she went on retreat and during this retreat began to commit some of her convictions about becoming the praise of God's glorious grace to paper.

In her wisdom, the very source of our existence is in the mysterious canticle of praise offered by the Son to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. This great canticle is revealed on the Cross and the whole Christian existence is taken up by its  mystery.  By the Cross of Christ, we have the opportunity to be in harmony with ourselves and to reverberate with divine melodies that echoed before the foundation of the world. Mary, Elisabeth contends, knew this secret more than any other created soul.  She stood at the foot of the Cross and heard the melodies echoing in her Son's heart more than anyone else ever could.  Assumed into heaven, she is ready to teach us her secrets. In this way, she is the Gate of Heaven -- because to have the hymn in Christ's heart echo in our own is to know the whole life of heaven already by faith. Today it is very important to allow this teaching to wash over us and baptize the way we see the gift of life.

In opposition to Blessed Elisabeth's view of life, the most powerful people of our time believe that individuals exist as no more than purely functional cogs for the machinery of the world. There is no real music -- for the most beautiful music surprises us.  But among the powerful, there can be no room for surprise.  In this vision of industrialized and commercialized humanity, government and other societal institutions compete for an absolute claim over one's own person.  Probability and predictable human behavior replace authentic freedom and virtue.  Everything is about better technology so that human behavior can be better controlled and manipulated.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary challenges this industrialized vision of humanity. It is, in itself, a total surprise for before the resurrection of Christ, the witness of humanity caught up in heaven was the rarest of human experiences. No other woman was ever raised up from this world below before.  The fact that a poor, humble and uneducated woman was raised above this world is a sign that humanity is made for heaven, above this world, above the visible, above the produceable, above the consumable, above the measurable, and above even the probable. This "above" is not a spacial reality but a reality of power, essence and beauty.  Not the slave of material and visible existence, but above it, the uniqueness of each human person, the unrepeatable splendor of this particular enfleshed soul, precisely as an embodied spirit, is a wonderful wholeness known and desired by God. Here, if we let it, the Assumption of the Mother of God and our Mother in Grace can confirm in the most tender and human way that God is the beginning and end of each human heart, that we are only pilgrims in this world below, that our true homeland awaits us in the dawning of a new heavens and new earth -- the likes of which no one has ever fathomed or even remotely conceived.

For Blessed Elisabeth, Mary teaches our hearts the secret songs that Jesus offered the Father from the Cross. These are songs of obedient love, a hidden music so subtle and gentle that it is at work changing everything even now. In every hardship and renunciation for love, in every trial and sacrifice for what is good and true, space is made for this music to resound anew.  It is the music of an obedient and freely given love, a salvific music that instills hope in the hearts of men and women. With patient kindness, the Lord wants the whole of humanity to know the unspeakable harmonies of his unvanquished love. Created in His Image and Likeness, we are capable of saying "yes" to Him and to allowing Him to radiate our whole existence with these harmonies and even to raise us up to His very life. This is heaven, a state of existence into which we can be assumed by His love at work in us. What He has realized perfectly in Mary, He yearns also to realize in us too.

Because of the "yes" of Mary, His desire to implicate Himself in our plight was realized.  Because one heart was completely open to the eternal melodies of God's heart, all hearts now have the possibility of allowing these same strands to echo within.  And assumed into heaven, this Heart beating with maternal love is not remote from us but very close. Indeed, Christ has given us His Mother's heart as a great gift. For in Christ, the heavens and the earth have embraced - and the praise of His glory is resounding on earth.