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Catholic Holy Day

Easter Maria

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This year I crave a quiet Easter-

Pitch black peace

In which to bloom

In secret knowing.

This was Mary’s Easter-

Before ever a word was said.

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Mary is our home girl; The Assumption

She is so often portrayed as too pretty to touch, air brushed like a fluffy cloud or a pink puff of spun cotton candy. But she knew gut-wrenching grief. She cried real tears when she was widowed. Of course she did. Joseph’s death must have been a bottomless loss for her.

She walked the way of the Cross with her Son, wanting to die with Him as any mother would. But she stood at the foot of the Cross all the same, to love Him, and to go on doing whatever He told her. Maybe her toes clenched in her sandals as she stood there; toes that probably looked more like Mother Teresa’s than the dainty artistic feet that peek out from beneath her dress in so many representations. Maybe she took her sandals off because she knew that Golgotha had just become Holy Ground.

Her hands, likely bloodied from attempts to comfort her bleeding Son, were probably rough and work scarred from a lifetime of labor and loving service. These hands of Mary’s, so soon to be assumed into Heaven, had held babies, hauled water, kneaded bread, cared for the sick, worked in the fields, watered the donkey, expressed human affection, and were often raised to God in prayer.

What do you think of when you think of Mary’s Assumption? I don’t know why, but I always think of the hem of her dress; a dress which was doubtless as simple as a worn tee shirt and faded jeans would be to us today. I see its frayed, homespun cloth brighten as she is taken into the Light of Heaven. I want to see her feet. I always look for them under there.

I am sure that in the mysterious process of the glorification of her body, Mary’s calloused feet were much honored in Heaven; every scratch, each leathery sole, becoming what they always were: beautiful, heavenly bright. Maybe that’s what happens in Heaven. Things begin to look the way they look to God.

Thinking of my own mother’s dirty little feet when she came in from the garden tracking mud on the kitchen floor convinces me that Our Lady tracked dirt all the way to her Son’s throne. She brought the Earth with her, I’m sure of that.

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We are a very Incarnation-al people, we Catholics. Earth is good, the body is good, because God is good, and Jesus is true God and true man; Incarnate in the flesh. In spite of the air brushed holy cards of Mary, in which her pupils seem far too small and she is painted to look like a pastel ghost, we know that the stars in Mary’s hair represent the way she looked to God: gloriously human, the humble and barefoot Spouse of the Holy Spirit who was lowly and invisible to the world, but brilliantly radiant to the Lord. Then again, our exalted Mother, as brightly shining as we see her in Revelations 12, shows us she is real and totally human. Even as Heavenly Queen, rather than sighing with celestial bliss, she wails in the pangs of birth.

That particular wailing is for us, I think. She is with us in our struggle with evil, in our determination to follow her Son, in our attempts and failures at practicing virtue, in the Church’s painful war against the powers and principalities of darkness.

There is a trail of glory that Mary left, but it looks a lot more like dirty foot prints to me as she runs to the Seat of Mercy with our burdens and pains, about her latest enmity with the Evil One, with her requests for us, her lost, suffering, fighting and dying children she wants to lead to her Son. Her Son, I like to think, must smile when he sees those clods of soil in the throne room that show she has been in. She will keep working for the Kingdom until her work of Queenly discipleship is done and there are stars in our hair too as we reign with God forever.

She was assumed into Heaven, body and soul. She is the Living Tabernacle of the New Covenant. She is Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Mother of us. She listens with a real heart, leads us to Christ with real love.

The Assumption reminds me of this: Mary is real. She’s tracking in dirt. She’s holding my hand. And she’s beautiful- the way God sees beauty. Not only that, but as Bishop Mike Sis said once in a homily, “The Assumption means God’s gonna win! God’s gonna WIN!”

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In answering my Methodist friend, Paula, with an explanation of what the Assumption was, she exclaimed, “OH! Isn’t that what happens in the end to all of us?”

Can I get a “Heaven yeah?”

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“Sinless Virgin, let us follow joyfully in your footsteps;

draw us after you in the fragrance of your holiness. “

( Antiphon from The Little Office of the BVM).

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A reflection on the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8)

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

In Michelangelo’s painting of the Creation of Adam, I noticed that the Father’s cloak, flying up around him in the painting, is shaped like a cross section of a human brain. Looking at the painting, you can see that Eve is just behind God as he creates Adam. She is under his arm looking on. I love this. Eve was already known and loved by God before he made her. Of course she was. The way she is depicted looking on, even before her creation, reminds me that she and Adam were made for each other, as all spouses are.

Mary was deep in the mind of God from the beginning, and she was designed for union with the Holy Spirit, to be the perfect wife for Joseph, and to be the Mother of Jesus. God for-knew her from all time, and who she would be. He must have loved thinking about her.

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At the perfect time, Mary’s precious, pure humanity was conceived in human love in the womb of her mother, whom we call Anne. So much about Mary is hidden but exceedingly beautiful. Her glory was like a pearl in a shell; God’s own secret of what was to come, his quiet mystery veiled in the dark silence of the womb. Already she was in the perfect innocence of the first Eve. Already, she was in union with God without impediments. She was innocence beyond all innocence then in existence. She was already completely full of grace. How the Blessed Trinity must  loved looking at her, the private jewel of his heart, in her littleness. Her glory was like an unseen star shining on all humanity.“From my mother’s womb, you are my God. “Psalm 22″10b

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Little girl of incomparable beauty and promise, help me to be fully alive to God’s often hidden presence and beauty in my life, and to grow in awareness of his love and providence, His voice speaking to me, in every moment, pondering Him in my heart as you did.

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