“Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on the Assumption of Mary

Since tomorrow, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church (in the Eastern rites of the Church, today, August 14 is the Dormition of Mary – see my blog post from 2013 titled, Breathing with the Two Lungs of the Church for the Assumption of Mary), I thought I would use today’s “Mondays with Mary” as a way to continue my ever growing catechesis on this important dogma of the Catholic Church.

Ever growing because if you include this post, I have written on the Assumption of Mary 8 times over the past 5 years. It’s an important dogma to the Church and is the culmination of the other three Marian dogmas – Theotokos (God-Bearer), Perpetual Virginity, and Immaculate Conception. For a complete understanding of all four of these dogmas, I would suggest reading my book, Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that reads this blog and these series on a regular basis, but for those of you that are new, I am a big Pope St. John Paul II fan. I attribute his papacy to my intellectual conversion as well as all that I do for the Catholic Church in my current position and in my writings on here.

So for today’s post on the Assumption of Mary, here are 10 quotes from different homilies, audiences, and Angelus’ given by Pope St. John Paul II during his 26 year reign –

1. “In her, assumed into heaven, we are shown the eternal destiny that awaits us beyond the mystery of death: a destiny of total happiness in divine glory. This supernatural vision sustains our daily pilgrimage. Mary teaches about life. By looking at her, we understand better the relative value of earthly greatness and the full sense of our Christian vocation.”

2. “Taken up into heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God whose plan upsets that of the proud, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich empty away (cf. Lk 1:51-53).”

3. “Mary’s Assumption is an event that concerns us precisely because every human being is destined to die. But death is not the last word. Death – the mystery of the Virgin’s Assumption assures us – is the passage to life, the encounter with Love. It is the passage to the eternal happiness in store for those who toil for truth and justice and do their utmost to follow Christ.”

Fra Angelico – Assumption

4. “The Solemnity of Mary’s Assumption into heaven reminds us that Mary has returned to the Father’s house in body and soul, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of peace towards which we are all journeying. This is the reason why the Church, which addresses the Mother of the Lord by the title of Queen of Heaven, also loves to invoke her with the fitting name of Queen of Peace.”

5. “Mary shines on earth “until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God” (Lumen gentiumn. 68). A caring mother to everyone, she supports the efforts of believers and encourages them to persevere in their commitment. Here I am thinking most particularly of young people, who are more exposed to the attractions and temptations of fleeting myths and false teachers.”

6. “Mary, glorified in her body, appears today as the star of hope for the Church and for humanity on its way towards the third Christian millennium. Her sublime exaltation does not distance her from her people or from the world’s problems, on the contrary, it enables her to watch effectively over human affairs with that attentive concern with which she obtained the first miracle from Jesus at the wedding in Cana.”

7. “Today the Church celebrates Mary’s glorious Assumption body and soul into Heaven. The two dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely related. Both proclaim the glory of Christ the Redeemer and the holiness of Mary, whose human destiny is even now perfectly and definitively realized in God.”

8. “Chosen by God as the purest vessel in which to “come and dwell” among men, Mary, at the end of her earthly existence, was immediately taken up into heaven. This is why the Christian community, in a renowned hymn, joyfully sings her praise and invokes her: “Hail, O steadfast foundation of faith; / Hail, O shining emblem of grace…. /Hail, O key to the kingdom of Christ / Hail, O Hope for the ages of bliss…. / Hail, for the heavenly rejoice with the earth; / Hail, for the earthly meet the heavens in song!” (Akathistos).”

9. “In Mary and in the mystery of her Assumption, every person is called to discover the bold, connatural end of life, according to the plan established by the Creator: in other words, to be conformed to Christ, the incarnate Word, authentic image of the heavenly Father, to join him on the journey of faith and to rise with him to the fullness of blessed life.”

10. “Today Mary seems even closer to us: from heaven she sees us and protects us. Contemplation of paradise does not distance us from the earth; indeed on the contrary, it is an incentive to us to work with all our might to transform our world in view of eternity. In our minds resounds the Apostle’s invitation to seek the “things that are above” (Col 3:1), where an eternal dwelling place is prepared for us in the common house of the Father.”

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Assumed into Heaven…Pray for Us

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Woman Clothed with the Sun’

A few weeks ago, I kicked off our Saturday Morning Speaker Series at the parish with a talk titled, The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Sacred Scriptures. One of the points that I mentioned in that talk was that Mary is seen as the woman in the verses of Revelation 12 – “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun [italics mine], with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…”

To explain this scripture to you, below is Pope Emeritus Benedict’s homily from the Assumption of Mary on August 15, 2007 at St. Thomas Villanova Parish in Castel Gandolfo. Focusing on Mary being “clothed with the sun” and her Assumption into Heaven, the future Doctor of the Church explains how the two are so closely connected. At the end, he gives a very insightful lesson based on the life of Mary, and which we all must learn to do –

“Without any doubt, a first meaning is that it is Our Lady, Mary, clothed with the sun, that is, with God, totally; Mary who lives totally in God, surrounded and penetrated by God’s light. Surrounded by the 12 stars, that is, by the 12 tribes of Israel, by the whole People of God, by the whole Communion of Saints; and at her feet, the moon, the image of death and mortality.

Mary has left death behind her; she is totally clothed in life, she is taken up body and soul into God’s glory and thus, placed in glory after overcoming death, she says to us: Take heart, it is love that wins in the end!

The message of my life was: I am the handmaid of God, my life has been a gift of myself to God and my neighbor. And this life of service now arrives in real life. May you too have trust and have the courage to live like this, countering all the threats of the dragon.

This is the first meaning of the woman whom Mary succeeded in being. The “woman clothed with the sun” is the great sign of the victory of love, of the victory of goodness, of the victory of God; a great sign of consolation.

Mother of Mariazell

Mother of Mariazell

Yet, this woman who suffered, who had to flee, who gave birth with cries of anguish, is also the Church, the pilgrim Church of all times. In all generations she has to give birth to Christ anew, to bring him very painfully into the world, with great suffering. Persecuted in all ages, it is almost as if, pursued by the dragon, she had gone to live in the wilderness.

However, in all ages, the Church, the People of God, also lives by the light of God and as the Gospel says is nourished by God, nourishing herself with the Bread of the Holy Eucharist. Thus, in all the trials in the various situations of the Church through the ages in different parts of the world, she wins through suffering. And she is the presence, the guarantee of God’s love against all the ideologies of hatred and selfishness.

We see of course that today too the dragon wants to devour God who made himself a Child. Do not fear for this seemingly frail God; the fight has already been won. Today too, this weak God is strong: he is true strength.

Thus, the Feast of the Assumption is an invitation to trust in God and also to imitate Mary in what she herself said: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; I put myself at the Lord’s disposal.

This is the lesson: one should travel on one’s own road; one should give life and not take it. And precisely in this way each one is on the journey of love which is the loss of self, but this losing of oneself is in fact the only way to truly find oneself, to find true life [italics mine].

Let us look to Mary, taken up into Heaven. Let us be encouraged to celebrate the joyful feast with faith: God wins. Faith, which seems weak, is the true force of the world. Love is stronger than hate. And let us say with Elizabeth: Blessed are you among women. Let us pray to you with all the Church: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

“Mondays with Mary” – Bishop Fulton Sheen and ‘The Assumption and the Modern World’

When I read many of the great Catholic authors of the 20th century – G.K. Chesterton, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Flannery O’Connor, Romano Guardini, and others like them, it seems to me as if they are writing today and witnessing the same distorted elements of the secular neo-pagan culture we see everyday. I think that many of these writers were prophets in their own times – for they saw then what was coming to the world in which we live in today. To understand the present, I believe we must look into the past.

So for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I draw from one of the great Catholic Bishops of the mid 20th century, a figure I spoke about from above, and fan favorite of many devout Catholics today – Bishop Fulton Sheen.

In his book, The World’s First Love – Mary, Mother of God, Bishop Sheen writes about the contrast between today’s modern philosophies and the fourth Marian dogma – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which by the way is today’s Solemnity. Although I would love to explain in great detail the words of Fulton Sheen to you, I just don’t have that kind of time nor should you hear it from me. Reading him your self is the best option since I only have a small fraction of his intelligence.

The modern philosophies that Bishop Sheen begins with are Darwinism, Marxism and Totalitarianism. He continues down the rabbit hole of modern secularism by explaining the damages of not only the three philosophies above, but also dives into Jean-Paul Sartre and Sigmund Freud – two philosophers that have sowed countless seeds of confusion and distortion regarding the human person and human sexuality. Each of these modern philosophies has developed like weeds, seeking to destroy the fruit that grows around it – and this is what we witness today in our modern culture.

This however is only one side of the battlefield, for the Assumption of the Mary into Heaven brings light into the darkness, pouring upon us Love and Life. Even though the modern world seems to be heavily steeped in the philosophies above, the Assumption of Mary takes these head-on and insures us that these philosophies are bound to fail, finding themselves upon the trash heap of history and eternity. It is in Love and Life that the Assumption finds its home and rest.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Rubens.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Rubens.

To conclude today’s post, I now give you seven quotes from Bishop Fulton Sheen focusing on ‘The Assumption and the Modern World’ –

1. “This ‘pull’ on our hearts by the Spirit of God is always present, and it is only our refusing wills and the weakness of our bodies as a result of sin that keep us earth-bound…If God exerts a gravitational pull on all souls, given the intense love of Our Lord for His Blessed Mother that descended and the intense love of Mary for her Lord that ascended, there is a created suspicion that love at this stage would be so great as ‘to pull the body with it’.

2. “Love in its nature is an ascension in Christ and an assumption in Mary…One thing is certain: the Assumption is easy to understand if one loves God deeply, but it is hard to understand if one loves not.”

3. “To a world that worships the body, the Church now says, ‘there are two bodies in Heaven, one the glorified human nature of Jesus, the other the assumed human nature of Mary.’ Love is the secret of the Ascension of one and of the Assumption of the other, for love craves unity with its beloved. The Son returns to the Father in the unity of Divine Nature, and Mary returns to Jesus in the unity of human nature. Her nuptial flight is the event to which our whole generation moves.”

4. “In this doctrine of the Assumption, the Church meets the despair of the world in a second way. She affirms the beauty of life as against death. When wars, sex, and sin multiply the discords of men, and death threatens on every side, the Church bids us life up our hearts to the life that has the immortality of the Life that nourished it…Eat the food of earth, and one dies; eat the Eucharist, and one lives eternally. She, who is the mother of the Eucharist, escapes the decomposition of death.”

5. “The modern man gets back to nothingness through despair; the Christian knows nothingness only through self-negation, which is humility. The more that the pagan ‘nothings’ himself, the closer he gets to the hell of despair and suicide. The more the Christian ‘nothings’ himself, the closer he gets to God. Mary went so deep down into Nothingness that she became exalted…And her exaltation was also her Assumption.”

6. “In Mary there is a triple transition. In the Annunciation we pass from the holiness of the Old Testament to the holiness of Christ. At Pentecost we pass from the holiness of the historical Christ to the holiness of the Mystical Christ or His Body, which is the Church…The third transition is the Assumption, as he becomes the first human person to realize the historical destiny of the faithful as member of Christ’s Mystical Body, beyond time, beyond death, and beyond judgment.”

7. “Mary is always in the vanguard of humanity…by her Assumption, she goes ahead like her Son to prepare a place for us. She participates in the glory of her Son, reigns with Him, presides at His Side over the destinies of the Church in time, and intercedes for us, to Him, as He, in His turn, intercedes to the Heavenly Father…Mary always seems to be the advent of what is in store for man.”

In a time, when humanity seems to care nothing for the supernatural that pertains to God, let us ask for the intercession of Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen to intercede for not only our country, but for all of humanity. Let us pray that the Assumption of Mary will wake up the world to beauty, love, and life – the same Beauty, Love, and Life that not only died for the world, but also intercedes on its behalf.

Blessed Virgin Mary, in your Assumption, as the Immaculate Conception…Pray for Us.