The Book of Revelation speaks of “a Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” This vision is a symbolic description of Mary, taken up into heaven, with the sun, the moon and the stars as signs of her heavenly glory. The feast of the Transfiguration also reminded us of Jesus, whose “face shone like the sun.” Mary is the first after Christ to shine in the glory of a risen body, and we honor her as our Mother and Queen assumed into heaven, “arrayed in finest gold” (Ps 45:9), celebrating a victory that is linked to her intercession for us to persevere amidst the struggles and storms of life.
Pope Pius XII formally proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on November 1, 1950, after consultations with all the bishops of the world, thus clarifying what happened at the end of her life. This underlined her glorification by God who raised her to heaven, body and soul. Around the year 770, the term “assumption” was first used to describe what happened to Mary’s body, till it was finally confirmed by the pope as a dogma. Marian prayers like the daily Rosary and Angelus, and many churches under various titles are also dedicated to Mary our model disciple to remind us of her exemplary holiness, humility and constant attentiveness to the will of God, as well as her motherly care for each one of us, her children. Let us be lowly and trusting in our disposition to the Father, so that we too, like Mary will be ‘arrayed in majestic gold’ transformed unto the King’s glory with all the just in heaven.
Following Mary on earth means living poor and dependent on the providence of God, and being aware of one’s being sent to participate in whatever mission one has of the Church, with zeal in serving God’s people. Being with the poor will impel us to respond with compassion to the feelings, situations and concerns of others. Only by facing trials as a journey with Christ on the Cross, will we be worthy of eternal glory. It is timely to recall the lives of saints, like St. Maximilian Kolbe of Poland whose life was greatly influenced by a vision of the Virgin Mary, and for whom he chose both celibacy and martyrdom. Arrested in Poland by the Nazis and sent to the death camp, he did away with hatred and said that “only love can create.” He was killed by a lethal injection on August 14, the eve of the Assumption of Mary.