The Assumption of Mary

Today is the celebration of the Assumption of Mary. I confess that this is one of the feasts of the Catholic Church that I have always had some difficulty relating to. There are several reasons for that, many of which I’ve discussed with clergy friends of mine in my (generally unsuccessful) effort to try to understand it better.

One of the difficulties for me is that “Mary, Queen of Heaven,” is not an image of Mary I relate to. When I see pictures depicting Mary’s Assumption or Mary’s Coronation as Queen of Heaven they bear no resemblance to the Mary of my prayers. Mary, the woman with the strength to say Yes to what must have seemed an insane and frightening proposition that she give birth to God. Mary, the woman at Cana who told the servants to do as Jesus asked. Mary, who stayed with Jesus til the end and then took the dead body of her son in her arms. Mary, who stayed with the apostles after the death, doubtless comforting (mothering) them in their loss of Jesus.

Pope Benedict XVI, however, wrote something that helps bridge that gap a little bit for me. He writes that “precisely becasue Mary is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is actually ‘within’ all of us, Mary shares in the closeness of God.”

While I have always had the sense of God within, the idea of Mary being that close was not one that had struck me before. Since I have gone to Mary for support at different times – she has been a very good friend to me in moments when I’ve need her – the notion of her “with God and in God” and therefore closer to me than I imagined is a comforting one. If that is a consequence of her Assumption, it is one that I can grasp.